If you're trying to lose weight, rethinking your beverage choices is a good place to start. Between 1965 and 2002, the percentage of calories from beverages in the American diet increased from about 12 to 21 percent. Switching to lower calorie or no-calorie beverages can help reduce your daily caloric intake, which can help you lose weight, and some drinks have even been associated with potential weight loss benefits.
Water and Weight
Water is the obvious calorie-free choice for people on a diet. This isn't the only reason it is beneficial for weight loss, however. Increasing the amount of water you drink may help you lose more weight, according to a study published in Obesity in 2008. Water may be even more beneficial for weight loss than other non-caloric beverages. People who traded their diet beverages for water experienced greater weight loss than people who continued to consume these beverages, in a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2015. If you're not a fan of plain water, try sparkling water or add a splash of fruit juice, such as lemon or lime.
If you'd like a hot beverage, consider drinking unsweetened green tea. Drinking about 4 cups of green tea per day can cause a small amount of weight loss and may help improve your cholesterol levels as well, according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition in 2010. Just be sure to avoid drinking it when you're consuming dairy products, and don't add milk to your tea, as this may limit the potential metabolism-increasing benefits of the green tea, notes another study published in Nutrients in 2011. Adding lemon juice is fine if you'd like a little extra flavor.
Coffee can be a good beverage choice while you're on a diet, as long as you don't load it with sugar and cream. Study subjects who drank a moderate amount of coffee ate less throughout the day than people who drank less coffee or no coffee at all, according to a study published in Obesity in 2013. For the best results, stick with black coffee, as it has no calories. Skip the flavored syrups and whipped cream. If you must add something to your coffee, get a smaller size and use skim milk instead of cream. A medium cafe latte with whole milk has about 265 calories, but a small coffee with skim milk has just 125.
Dairy products are a major source of calcium in the typical American diet and are sometimes linked with an increase in weight loss. The evidence for milk and weight loss is mixed, however, with some studies showing that drinking more milk helps limit weight gain, while others show a potential increase in weight gain, according to a review article published in Eating Behaviors in 2009. Milk is a nutrient-dense beverage that can be part of a healthy weight-loss diet, and you can limit calories by choosing low-fat or skim milk instead of whole milk. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends drinking three glasses of low-fat milk per day.
Although drinking more fruit juice, in general, may lead to weight gain, people who prefer fruit juice to water, coffee or tea may want to try grapefruit juice. People who drank grapefruit juice before each meal experienced increases in weight loss of about the same amount as those who drank water. The beverage acted as a preload, helping to fill up the stomach so people ate fewer calories overall. Whole fruit is still preferable to fruit juice, however, as it provides more nutrients and fiber with fewer calories. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends limiting yourself to no more than 4 to 6 ounces of 100-percent fruit juice per day.
Not everyone enjoys drinking water, which has led some people who want a flavored drink to switch from sugar-sweetened beverages to diet beverages. This strategy can work for some people and can also serve as an intermediate step between switching from sugary beverages to water. Trading caloric beverages for diet beverages or water led to a weight loss of between 2 and 2.5 percent of their weight for people who participated in a six-month study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2012. People who drank diet beverages for 12 weeks as part of a reduced-calorie diet actually lost more weight than those who switched to water, according to a study published in Obesity in 2014.
Not everyone agrees that diet beverages are helpful for weight loss, however, as a review article published in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine in 2010 noted that in some cases, these beverages could actually lead to weight gain instead of weight loss, at least in part because people tend to overcompensate for the calories they're saving. On the other hand, the artificial sweeteners don't seem to signal the brain the same way as caloric beverages, and may end up causing more cravings for sweet flavors, which could derail diet efforts. If you aren't losing weight while drinking diet beverages, you're probably better off choosing a different no-calorie beverage.
Wine and Weight
Drinking alcohol while trying to lose weight typically isn't recommended, as it is relatively high in calories and can lower your inhibitions, potentially leading to an increased caloric intake. If you want to drink something alcoholic, however, wine may be your best bet. A light-to-moderate intake of wine may help protect against weight gain, while consuming spirits may have the opposite effect, according to a review article published in Nutrition Reviews in 2011. Moderate alcohol consumption is considered no more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men.
- Obesity: Effect of Different Amounts of Coffee on Dietary Intake and Appetite of Normal-Weight and Overweight/Obese Individuals
- Journal of the American College of Nutrition: Green Tea Supplementation Affects Body Weight, Lipids, and Lipid Peroxidation in Obese Subjects With Metabolic Syndrome
- Nutrients: Consumption of Milk-Protein Combined With Green Tea Modulates Diet-Induced Thermogenesis
- Obesity: Drinking Water Is Associated With Weight Loss in Overweight Dieting Women, Independent of Diet and Activity
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Effects on Weight Loss in Adults of Replacing Diet Beverages With Water During a Hypoenergetic Diet: A Randomized, 24-Wk Clinical Trial
- Nutrition & Metabolism: Effects of Grapefruit, Grapefruit Juice and Water Preloads on Energy Balance, Weight Loss, Body Composition, and Cardiometabolic Risk in Free-Living Obese Adults
- Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine: Gain Weight By "Going Diet?" Artificial Sweeteners and the Neurobiology of Sugar Cravings
- Obesity: The Effects of Water and Non-Nutritive Sweetened Beverages on Weight Loss During a 12-Week Weight Loss Treatment Program
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Replacing Caloric Beverages With Water or Diet Beverages for Weight Loss in Adults: Main Results of the Choose Healthy Options Consciously Everyday (CHOICE) Randomized Clinical Trial
- Eating Behaviors: Beverage Consumption and Adult Weight Management: A Review