Is what you drink affecting your ability to lose weight? The short answer is yes. Liquid calories play a huge part in our health, and the amount you consume is directly related to your ability to control the number on that scale.
Beverages go down quicker and easier than food. But that’s also the definition of “mindless” consumption: not paying attention while we’re doing other things like driving, working, watching television or sports, mingling, catching up with friends, etc.
Sodas, as most of the WelfredHealth community knows, are liquid sugar. They do little to satiate hunger. But that’s also true of many other beverages, including energy drinks, iced lattes, bottled green teas, smoothies, sports drinks, alcoholic beverages, sweetened teas and, yes, even those fresh-pressed organic juices from your local juice bar. Most of these contain a lot of sugar and very little fiber to help keep you full. A few hundred calories per day can add up quickly, as many people fail to factor liquid calories into their daily intake.
Most sodas, bottled teas, energy drinks and sports drinks have sugar and calories listed on the container. Always read labels, and choose beverages with little- to no-added sugar and calories.
Alcohol is where things can get tricky, as calories, fat, sugar and carbohydrates aren’t required to be listed on labels. With 7 calories per gram of alcohol — it’s the second most concentrated source of calories, more than both carbohydrates and fat. It’s also absorbed directly into the bloodstream, meaning your body doesn’t burn extra calories in order to process and break it down.
Many of today’s trending craft beers have as much as 200–250 calories per pint, and that’s just for one. Wine has around 120 calories per 5-ounce pour, if you can limit it to just a glass. Cocktails mixed with sodas, simple syrups and tonic waters add up quickly, too — and come in much smaller portions that “vanish” rapidly. Limiting alcoholic beverages is one of the first steps you can take for successful weight loss.
But wait: The good news is there are a few things (other than water) that you can start sipping that may aid your efforts to shed some pounds. Drinking to promote better hydration, sleep and digestion can also help with weight-loss efforts. Here are five quaffs to consider.
Woman drinking milk
1. Green Tea
Green tea has been used for centuries to keep people awake, but there are also weight loss benefits in green tea as well. Green tea is full of antioxidants and studies have proven that green tea helps speed up your metabolism and control your weight. The main compound in green tea is epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG, a powerful antioxidant that helps causes weight loss, fight heart disease and prevent cancer. Green also contains a large amount of polyphenols that are known as catechins. Catechins will trigger weight loss by stimulating your body to decrease body fat and burn calories, and they also have antiviral, anti inflammatory and anticancer properties. The amount of catechin content in the green tea depends on the steeping time and amount of green tea used. It is usually recommended that you drink at least four cups of green tea a day for weight loss benefits.
The morning java boost is a necessity for many of us, but there’s proof that the jolt may spur a better workout (translation: burn more calories). A 2015 study in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness found that participants could do almost 20% more leg presses and 12% more bench presses when they drank 2–3 cups of coffee before their workout. A similar 2011 study found an (albeit small) increase in energy expenditure both before and after exercise in the group that drank coffee before exercise.
In addition, coffee positively affects the hormones that help improve blood-sugar regulation. Maintaining stable blood sugar is essential to your well-being, overall fitness, regulating your hormones and plays a role in how much fat your body is able to store and burn.
But before you get too excited, we recommend you skip the sugar and heavy cream. The benefits noted above are singular to black coffee — not the mostly sugar and milk-based lattes, frappes, and mochas from Starbucks, McDonald’s and Dunkin Donuts, which sell drinks that may contain more than 1/4 cup (50 grams) of sugar!
3. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
Drinking vinegars are the new kombucha (here’s what you need to know about the trendy bottled ones), thanks to research that attests to vinegar’s ability to aid weight loss and regulate blood sugar, thus reducing cravings. “I love apple cider vinegar for weight loss because the acetic acid it contains has been shown to boost metabolism, which is critical when you’re trying to drop some extra pounds,” says Josh Axe, DNM, DC, CNS, a clinical nutritionist and author of Eat Dirt: Why Leaky Gut May Be the Root Cause of Your Health Problems and 5 Surprising Steps to Cure It. “The acetic acid reduces inflammation and prevents the extra storage of fat. Finally, the natural enzymes and probiotics in ACV are great for gut health—and gut health is great for weight loss. If you have a sluggish digestive system, that stagnant waste can certainly add extra pounds on the scale.”
4. Avocado Smoothie
“This rich, delicious smoothie is like pudding in a cup—and it actually supports weight loss,” says Esther Cohen, MS, RD, founder and director of the Seven Bowls School of Nutrition, Nourishment and Healing. Avocados are full of goodness: They have fiber, protein, and antioxidants, and also pack in healthy monounsaturated fats that contain oleic acid, which can quiet hunger pangs, says Cohen. “Eating good fats improves metabolic function and helps to regulate blood sugars so we are less likely to overeat. Coconut milk contains a good saturated fat high in lauric acid, a unique lipid that is antibacterial and improves cholesterol and reduces abdominal fat.”
Try this recipe from Cohen:
Bali Avocado Smoothie
2 ripe avocados
½ c coconut milk
1 c coconut water
Juice of 1 lime
1 c ice cubes
Sweeten with date palm sugar or honey, to taste
Add all ingredients to blender and blend until smooth.
5. Turmeric Milk Tea
We’ve said it here before: Sleep is essential for more efficient weight loss. Drinking turmeric-steeped warm milk before bed may help you catch more zzz’s. The brain uses calcium and tryptophan (both of which are found in dairy products) to make sleep-inducing melatonin.
Turmeric contains a component called curcumin, which may shrink the size of adipose cells and limit fat accumulation. Curcumin also stimulates antioxidant effects, reduces inflammation and may help relieve anxiety. Research on turmeric is still young, but it certainly can’t hurt to add this warming spice to your nightly routine.
To conclude, these are the top 5 most efficient drinks that you should embed in your diet if you want to lose weight quickly and naturally, without resorting to any pills or supplements that may have side effects.