If you’re trying to lose weight, you shouldn’t just be focusing on your food choices. What you drink on a daily basis can also contribute to added calories, sugar, and fat that may be hindering your weight loss. Plus, hydration is a key asset to helping you lose weight. So choosing wisely when it comes to your beverages is a smart tool to help you achieve your weight loss goals.
We asked nutrition experts for the best drinks that can help drive your weight and fat loss goals. Here are 12 of the best to add to your grocery list. Read on, and for more on healthy eating, don’t miss Simple Ways to Start Losing Weight Immediately, According to Science.
“Vegetable juices are an excellent source of potassium and vitamin C, and are much lower in sugar than fruit juices. A 5.5 ounce can of low sodium vegetable juice (like V8) has a mere 30 calories,” says Sue Heikkinen, MS, RD, registered dietitian for MyNetDiary. “Though vegetable juice doesn’t provide the same amount of fiber as eating a serving of fresh veggies, it makes an easy grab and go to a veggie serving.”
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“Caffeine can help with concentration and act as an appetite suppressant. There are also compounds in black tea that have been shown to help with weight loss,” says Audra Wilson, MS, RD, CSOWM, LDN, registered bariatric dietitian at the Northwestern Medicine Metabolic Health and Surgical Weight Loss Center at Delnor Hospital. “Adding a little caffeine before a workout, if you have no cardiac-related health issues, can help with stamina during your workout as well as focus and can add a boost of energy.”
“Admittedly, this fermented dairy beverage has an acquired taste that may not be for everyone. Kefir is rich in the probiotic lactobacillus which may help promote satiety and a healthy metabolism,” says Heikkinen. “Unsweetened kefir is a reasonably low-calorie beverage choice, at 100 calories for a cup of low-fat kefir. Kefir is much lower in lactose than milk. It provides 13 grams of protein in a cup.” We like these 9 Best Probiotic-Rich Kefirs for Your Gut.
“Hydration is so important for weight loss. Many times our brains confuse hunger and thirst,” says Wilson. “Staying hydrated means you can help to eliminate mindless snacking throughout the day — those extra calories can add up!” For some guidance, read up on This Is How Much Water You Need to Drink for Weight Loss.
“Green tea makes a fabulous pick-me-up — it is calorie-free and provides a mild dose of caffeine,” says Heikkinen. “The catechins in green tea may have a slight calorie-burning effect. Plus, the soothing ritual of drinking tea may keep you from mindlessly snacking when you are stressed.”
“Milk packs 8 grams of protein per cup and can help curb hunger in between meals or as an addition to any meal,” says Wilson. “Several studies have shown that the inclusion of low-fat dairy in the diet can aid in weight loss as well. Not to mention the vital calcium milk contains–3 glasses per day–can fill your calcium requirement. Chocolate milk is also a great recovery drink after a long run as the carbs can refill glycogen stores and the protein helps with muscle repair.”
If you’re on a plant-based diet, soy milk may be a great drink to aid in weight loss. A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that people who drank 720 milliliters of soy milk a day lost equal weight as those who drank skim cow’s milk. And another 2012 study found that women who drank a glass of soy milk for 4 weeks compared to a glass of skim milk per day reported greater reductions in waist circumferences. (Related: What Happens to Your Body When You Drink Soy Milk)
“Protein is filling and can help to stabilize blood sugars (read: no sudden, strong hunger cues/feeling hangry),” says Wilson. “Using a protein shake as a meal or snack or after workout supplement can give you the muscle building/sustaining fuel you need while preventing hunger. Many of these shakes are also a good source of nutrients like calcium.”
“Minus added cream and sugar, coffee is a virtually calorie-free beverage. While research shows mixed effects of coffee on appetite, you may notice taking a break for a cup of coffee takes the edge off your cravings,” says Heikkinen. “Like green tea, coffee may provide a slight calorie-burning advantage. Harvard researchers observed a 4% decrease in body fat among study participants drinking four cups of coffee daily for 12 weeks. Although tea gets most of the attention, coffee also provides protective antioxidants.” Just make sure you’re not going over 4 cups, otherwise, you may experience Ugly Side Effects of Drinking Too Much Coffee, According to Science.
Fiber can be an excellent weight-loss tool, and psyllium husk is a great source of soluble fiber, which has been studied to reduce belly fat. A 2016 study has found that psyllium husk kept study participants feeling fuller between meals, as well as less hungry.
“Research shows that using meal replacements can be an effective weight-loss strategy,” says Heikkinen. If you are someone who tends to skip meals or grab fast food when you are too busy to cook, meal replacements can help you stay on track and provide the protein, vitamins, and minerals you need on a weight loss plan. Make your own using these 21 Best Protein Shake Recipes for Weight Loss.
“Herbal teas like hibiscus are slightly sweet which can help curb sweet cravings and the warmth of the fluid can be filling as well,” says Wilson. “These traits make for a great in-between-meals of after dinner snack. The lack of caffeine also means that it won’t keep you up at night!” Want to mix up your tea routine? Try any of these 22 Best Teas You Should Drink for Weight Loss!