When it comes to shedding pounds, most dieters focus on what they eat—not what they drink. Now, experts recommend that you rethink your drink to kick-start your weight loss and maintain a healthy weight over the long run.
Over the past several decades, beverage calories have increased in the typical U.S diet. In one national survey, adults drank 425 calories while kids drank about 474 calories per day from beverages. That’s about 20 percent of our daily calories.
Perhaps worse, beverages account for about one-third of the added sugars we consume. Not only are added sugars linked to many chronic conditions, but beverages full of empty calories also don’t trigger fullness like the exact same number of calories from food. That makes it even hard to your total calories and weight in check.
Read on to find out the best sips to help you lose weight and keep it off by rethinking what you drink, and for more on how to eat healthy, don’t miss 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.
If you want to lose weight and keep it off, you can start by reducing your intake of added sugars. And one of the best places to start is by cutting back on sugar-sweetened beverages. To do so, focus on drinking more water—bottled, tap, or filtered. It’s one of the easiest ways to cut calories without increasing hunger or appetite.
Replacing one 12-oz (140-calorie) cola with water each day would cut some 50,000 calories from the diet and more than 60 cups of sugar in a year! Drinking water and other zero-calorie beverages (along with a healthy diet and exercise, of course) is an effective strategy to lose weight more quickly.
For example, one study of 48 overweight adults indicated that those who drank about two cups of water before each of their meals while following a calorie-controlled diet lost about 5 pounds more during the 12-week study than dieters who didn’t drink water before eating.
Pumping the brakes on booze is a great strategy to help you lose weight and maintain a healthy weight. In one study, study participants who were asked to abstain from alcohol while being part of a long-term diet and lifestyle study lost about twice as much weight four years into the intervention compared to those who drank alcohol.
There are several reasons why drinking alcohol often leads to pounds gained. Most importantly, beer, wine, and spirits are high in calories. Ethanol (the main component in alcohol) provides 7.1 calories per gram versus 4 calories per gram in protein and carbs and 9 calories per gram for fat.
In popular alcoholic beverages, calories add up fast: A 12-ounce can of beer is about 150 calories (100 if it’s a light beer), a glass of wine is about 125 calories, and a 1.5-ounce shot of distilled spirits is anywhere between 100 and 115 calories. If you have a couple drinks a night, that can add up to more than 1,500 calories a week!
In addition to being calorie-rich, the ethanol in your adult beverage also stimulates your appetite, chips away at your resolve to eat healthily, and heightens the desire for high-calorie pleasurable foods. It’s no wonder that after a couple drinks, you’re diving face-first into a cheesy pizza or you’re craving fast food. There’s even a common name for the drunk munchies—drunchies.
Another great slimming sip is tea. Not only can some types of tea give your metabolism a boost, but healthy plant compounds in tea may also promote health and wellbeing. The flavonoids in tea can help reduce risk for heart disease, stroke, hypertension, certain types of cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
Preliminary studies suggest that tea flavonoids help elevate metabolic rate, increase fat oxidation and improve blood sugar and insulin activity. The catechins and caffeine in tea can also boost metabolism to help you burn more calories and maintain a healthy weight. Several studies of green, black, and oolong tea show that tea drinkers have a lower BMI compared to non-tea drinkers.
Like plain tea, black coffee is naturally calorie-free and has no added sugar or carbs. But its low-calorie count isn’t the only reason why coffee can support weight loss—the caffeine in coffee can help increase metabolism to help the body burn more calories to help you maintain a healthy weight. A large population study revealed that individuals who reported drinking more coffee were more successful at maintaining a healthy weight, compared to those who reported drinking less or no coffee.
Exactly how can your cup of Joe help you slim down? Some research suggests that coffee may blunt your appetite and tamp down cravings, increase exercise capacity and fat burning, making it easier for you to reach your health goals. In fact, one small study when coffee was enjoyed before a workout revealed that fat burning and energy output were enhanced when the subjects drank coffee versus hot water before their workouts.
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