Skinny Sipping: Best and Worst Drinks for Weight
Drink Pounds Away
Many of us watch what we eat but not what we drink when on a diet. That’s a mistake. The average Australian drinks one out of five of their daily calories. Choosing the right drinks can tweak your metabolism, curb your appetite, and help cut calories. Which drinks are spoilers and which are helpers on the path to weight loss?
Every time you chug a bottle of soda, you get hundreds of empty calories. Switching to diet soft drinks is an obvious way to cut calories, but the research is mixed on whether this switch leads to weight loss. Some studies show a short-term benefit. Others find diet soda drinkers gain weight. If you eat or drink more calories than you burn, just switching to diet soda may not do the trick.
Replacing carbonated soft drinks with water will cut hundreds of calories per day. Drinking two glasses of water before a meal may also help you feel full faster, so you don’t eat as much. And drinking enough water may have a positive effect on your metabolism.
Jury’s Out: Fruit Juice
Juice can have as many calories as soda, but it has more nutrients. This presents a dilemma: You want the vitamins and antioxidants without all the extra sugar. Look for 100% fruit juice. Steer clear of juice drinks that have added sweeteners. Check the nutrition label for the percentage of real juice. You can also slash calories by drinking water with a tiny bit of juice added.
Helper: Vegetable Juice
Vegetable juice is as nutritious as fruit juice, with about half the calories but a lot more sodium. One cup of tomato juice has 41 calories, compared to 122 calories for orange juice. Choosing juice with pulp provides some fiber, too, which may help control hunger.
Jury’s Out: Smoothies
Blend a banana, strawberries, and blueberries into a frothy smoothie, and you’ve got a delicious drink. Make your own, so you can control the ingredients: skim milk (or an alternative, like almond milk) and fresh or frozen fruit are all you need. Restaurant smoothies may include ice cream, honey, or other sweeteners that boost the calorie count sky-high.
Spoiler: Energy Drinks
Most sports and energy drinks are calorie bombs like soda. They may have more added nutrients, but you can find the same vitamins and minerals in low-calorie foods. When you’re working on weight loss, stay hydrated with water rather than sports drinks, unless you need the extra nutrients because you’re exercising hard and sweating a lot.
Helper: Black Coffee
When you need a shot of caffeine, coffee is a better choice than soda or energy drinks. Black coffee is calorie-free and rich in antioxidants. Studies have shown that drinking moderate amounts of coffee (about 1 to 2 cups a day) may improve mood and concentration, and may also lower the risk of type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer.
Spoiler: Fancy Coffee
Once you add heavy cream, flavored syrups, or a snowcap of whipped cream, your mug of black coffee is full of fat and sugar. Specialty coffees can have up to 570 calories per cup: possibly more than an entire meal! If you don’t like your coffee black, add a little skim milk and Stevia to keep the calorie count low.
Helper: Green Tea
Green tea is an excellent choice when you’re looking for a little boost. Not only is it calorie-free — some research suggests green tea extract may stimulate weight loss. It’s not clear exactly how that works, but caffeine and micronutrients called catechins may each play a role. The benefit appears to last only a few hours, so it may help to drink green tea at least twice a day.
A shot of hard liquor has fewer calories than wine or wine coolers, but once you mix in soda or cream, watch out. A glass white Russian made with light cream has 715 calories. A less fattening option is to mix vodka with soda.