You’ve probably thought a lot about what foods to eat and which ones to avoid if you’re trying to lose weight. Diet is a very important consideration in any weight loss plan, and part of your diet is what drinks you consume. Paying attention to drinks is a vital part of your weight-loss regimen—after all, there’s not much point eating a healthy salad for lunch if you’re going to wash it down with a giant soda. Here are some drinks to avoid and some to make sure you include in your daily fluid intake.
Water: Making sure you get plenty of water will help you stay hydrated, help your body produce energy more efficiently, and take the edge off your hunger. It’s good to get into a routine so you drink more water every day. Have a glass of water when you wake up in the morning and one before bed. You can also try drinking a glass before meals to avoid overeating.
Green tea: A lot of ink has been spilled about the health benefits of green tea, and for good reason. It contains a high level of healthy antioxidants that prevent cell damage. The compound EGCG boosts metabolism, while other active components in the tea provide natural relaxation to combat belly-building stress hormones. Brew at slightly below boiling temperature for best results.
Coffee: Although you might not think so, moderate coffee consumption (3 or so cups a day) can improve concentration and mood, provide a safe caffeine boost, and supply plenty of antioxidants. Just avoid adding too much cream and sugar if you want to cut calories.
Fat free milk: Containing protein to keep you feeling energized and calcium, which suppresses appetite, skim milk is a useful tool in your weight loss arsenal. If you’re not a big milk fan, try using it in your tea or coffee. You can also use skim milk to make healthy fruit smoothies for a fat-burning breakfast.
Drinks to Avoid
Sodas: Loaded with empty calories and tons of sugar, sodas are the worst thing you can drink if you’re trying to keep off pounds. Plus, that high glycemic index sends your blood sugar sky-high, leading to a crash and a greater likelihood of putting on weight. Switching to diet can help with the calorie count, but it is even better to replace soda with a healthier beverage.
Energy/Sports Drinks: Like soda, these drinks are full of calories and don’t have much nutritional value. The added vitamins don’t make up for the metric ton of sugar you get in each serving. It’s better (and cheaper) to hydrate with water if you are exercising.
Beer: Typically beer contains about 150 calories per glass, which can add up quickly. Light beer is a better option at around 100 calories if you want to knock a few back. Cocktails are also a no-no, since the mixers used are often sugary. It’s a good idea to stick with plain liquor on the rocks or mixed with diet soda if you want to watch the amount of calories you’re consuming. Keep in mind that it is best to limit alcohol intake if you are trying to lose weight because of its dehydrating and depressant effects.
Fruit Juice Cocktails: Juice cocktails seem like they would be much healthier than soda because they are made from “natural ingredients.” Often these contain amounts of sugar that are comparable to soft drinks and not much actual fruit juice. Make sure you choose 100% juice and check the label for added sugar or corn syrup before you buy.
As with the food you buy, pay attention to the label (if available) and avoid anything with a lot of sugar. Staying hydrated all day will help your overall metabolism and energy level, making it that much easier to shed those unwanted pounds. Do a little research to find healthy alternatives if you’re used to drinking unhealthy sodas, fattening beers, or sugary premium coffee drinks every day—chances are you’ll save some money while cutting out a lot of empty calories. There might not be a magic tonic for weight loss, but taking care of your body by monitoring what you put into it is a good place to start.