5 Drinks That Can Help Your Efforts to Lose Weight

by Sidney Fry, MS, RD
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5 Drinks That Can Help Your Efforts to Lose Weight

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 MyFitnessPal 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.


READ MORE > 8 FOODS THAT ARE SURPRISINGLY GOOD FOR WEIGHT LOSS


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.

1. WATER

We all know how important it is to drink enough water — it restores fluids lost through breathing, exercising and metabolism. It’s the number 1 thirst quencher … and cheap! But the timing could make a difference, too. When you start to feel hungry, drink some water. A 2015 study in the journal Obesity found that participants who drank about 2 glasses of water before meals were more likely to lose weight than those who skipped the glasses of water and went straight to eating.

2. GREEN TEA

Drinking green tea regularly may not only boost your fat fighting metabolism, but may also play a key role in weight maintenance and hunger suppression. One study from the Journal of the American College of Nutrition found that in just two months, green tea drinkers lost an average of six pounds more than those who drank plain water. Green tea is also brimming with antioxidants and flavonoids that are good for overall health. Drink freshly brewed tea with no added sugar or cream — bottled store-bought varieties have fewer antioxidants (the  concentration decreases the longer tea sits after brewing) and are often pumped full of honey or sugar.

3. COFFEE

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!

4. KOMBUCHA

This fizzy, pleasantly puckery fermented beverage is made by adding a probiotic-rich bacteria to lightly sweetened tea. More and more research is looking into gut health and how it relates to obesity and weight, finding that the millions of bacteria that live in our guts may play a large role by altering the way we store fat, how we balance blood sugar and how we respond to the hormones that make us feel hungry and full. Fueling our gut with beverages and foods that stimulate good bacteria may make losing weight easier than we ever thought possible. Kombucha is readily available in most supermarkets and comes loaded with probiotics — just be sure to look for brands with less than 5 grams sugar per serving.

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.

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  • Elise Carlson

    Hi! 🙂 I believe you meant to say that alcohol has more kcals that carbs and protein? because fat has 9kcal/g. Also, I was curious about the Kombucha… I’ve tried it before but it always makes my stomach hurt, could that be because I am already taking a probiotic capsule daily?

    • Kaylee

      It is doubtful that it is because you are already taking a probiotic. Likely it is just something that your body needs to get used to. Do you have issues with other fermented foods? That could be the cause.

    • L Jewels

      How much kombucha did you drink? or maybe it was just a coincidence?
      They suggest starting adding it to you diet a little at time..
      I drink a glass or 2 a day now but when I started I started with a small amount +/- 3 oz and increased as i felt comfortable…

  • Greg Dahlen

    in my case i’ve been living for nine years now more than 90% on fluid milk products, cow milk and cow cream. so every day my diet is some mix of milk–skim, 1%, 2%, whole–plus I occasionally buy pints of half-and-half or fluid whipping cream and drink them straight. I am six feet one inch, my weight maintains on this diet around 165 pounds.

    • Jamie Allen

      Greg, that personally sounds dangerous. Your body is not meant to even drink cows milk. I still eat small amounts of cheese, so not telling you to totally give it up, but you may want to read “The China Study” if you are that heavy on milk products. Your body was made to heal and feel better on plants (nope, I’m a carnivore, some fat is good, but you want to be eating more plant based (less processed in general. Please check that high milk diet as very concerning. Blessings

      • Greg Dahlen

        I really have the impression it’s great and not dangerous, Jamie. I’ve been doing it nine years, 365 days a year, and it seems to me my health is so much better on this diet than on a more typical diet of mixed, solid food. I do really well on my yearly physical as well. When my primary care physician saw my great results she asked me how I did it. At that point I did tell her about my unusual diet. She said if it works for the patient she is okay with it.

        • Denise Hegwald

          Hi Greg,

          So, when you stated you’re living on 90% fluid milk products, do you mean 90% of your liquids are milk products? Or, 90% of your total intake, liquids and solids combined, are milk products?

          • Greg Dahlen

            I do mean more than 90% of my total diet is fluid milk products, Denise, cow milk and cow cream. I got the idea from the Masai tribe in Kenya, who are famous for living only on food from their cattle, beef and milk. I like beef, but i really feel better with the fluid milk products, so I just do them.
            I do think this diet is great for feeling good physically. When I eat solid, mixed food I have eye discomfort, but when I follow this diet my eyes work and feel okay. I’m not sure if it’s better for weight loss than other diets. I do have the impression that when you’re hungry and you drink some milk, it gets into your system faster than solid food and relieves your hunger quicker, which is nice.

          • patsy

            Greg, do you take a vitamin supplement? Vitamins found in fruits & veggies are needed by the body to function properly for the long haul. You may feel great now but your body will eventually feel the effects of vitamin deficiencies. Not sure what age you are but most of us feel great when we’re young – it can take decades to reap the results of a insufficient diet. You want to feel great when you’re 70, as well as when you’re 30 🙂

          • Greg Dahlen

            no, i don’t take vitamin supplements. I’m 57. I do get some food other than fluid milk products, however. I would say perhaps 92% of my diet is fluid milk products, but 8% is other things like meat, vegetables, fruit, and so on. What do you think?

          • Philip

            Your diet is fascinating. As you say, the Masai eat little other than animal products (though I think they drink a lot of cow’s blood, which doesn’t appeal to me). Eskimos had no ‘western diseases’ until the arrival of western practices, and they sure weren’t eating a lot of fruit and vegetables for much of the year. Other people groups throughout history also went without those things for the majority of the year, though many ethnicities developed ways to ferment and store smaller amounts of food. I don’t cope so well with cow’s milk, but you’ve stimulated me to do some thinking about this.

          • Greg Dahlen

            Well I have used this diet to lose weight and keep it off, Philip. 10 years ago I weighed 255 (6 feet, one inch). Then i went to this milk diet and quite quickly went down to 175, and later to 165 and have kept it off rather easily. But it’s conceivable to me one could lose weight and keep it off with a more typical mainstream diet. I don’t know because i’ve never tried it. I share about my successes losing weight on this diet because some may have tried other diets and not succeeded in losing weight, and they may never have heard of mine, and it might work for them.

            Don’t know much about eskimos, but it’s conceivable to me that their diet was, in a healthy way, simple and elemental even if they didn’t get fruit and vegetables.

            But i do think milk is a special and remarkable food. I do think I feel better on this diet than I do when I eat a more mainstream diet of mixed, solid food, even if I could keep the same weight on the mixed solid food. My experience is that the nutrients from milk and cream are gentler, more soothing, less clogging, and less irritating to the cells than those of mixed, solid food. I tend to think that many who tried my diet would have the same experience. For me if I eat solid, mixed food, even healthy solid mixed food, my eyes hurt and vision blurs, but with the milk and cream they don’t. I think for one when the mammary gland composes the milk it may create it to be maximally gentle and soothing to the consumer. After all, the mother wants the infant to get the best start in life. I also think that although our body does break up solid food when we eat it, it’s never as broken up as milk when the nutrients enter the blood stream and reach the cells, and hence nutrients from solid food are more clogging and irritating to the body than those from milk and cream. I think the diet might help with many diseases for these reasons, including cancer, AIDS, and so on, and I’m trying to get the medical establishment to test the proposition.

            One interesting thing you may not know about the masai is they don’t eat milk and meat on the same day. “If a man eats meat and drinks milk on the same day, he is a glutton,” they say.

        • Mark

          Are your milk products the typical type, or do you drink only the organic kind of milk, or from grass-fed cows, etc?

          • Greg Dahlen

            Hey, Mark. Well, for a long time I was drinking what they call “conventional” milk because it’s the cheapest. Conventional milk is about $3 a gallon. The cows that give conventional milk are raised on the factory farms where they live jammed together in small corrals lying in their own urine and feces. The hay they eat is cut and then brought to them and then dumped just outside the corral and they stick their head through those iron fences to eat it. Not the greatest life.
            Then I went to organic milk because the life of a cow on an organic dairy is better. By law in California if a farmer is going to call his milk organic his cows have to eat real grass growing on a real field at least 75% of the year. Which I think is a better life for the cows. So I was willing to pay more for organic milk to give the cows a better life because I felt sorry for them. Organic milk is about $6 a gallon.
            Actually when I went primarily to organic milk I did notice a couple of changes in my body. For one thing my beard and moustache started growing more lightly, which I liked because I felt more cultured. And my nose stopped producing as much dried mucus so I wasn’t picking my nose as much.
            By the way, some people say that when you drink a lot of milk your nose produces more mucus. It’s not true. Your nose produces about the same mucus on a milk diet as on a non-milk one. What I’m saying is that when I went to primarily organic milk my nose produced less mucus than with conventional milk, which was nice cuz i wasn’t picking my nose as much.
            But for me it’s a mix of organic and conventional. Because some stores, such as the smaller mini-marts don’t carry organic, they only carry conventional. So if I need some milk and the only available store carries only conventional, then i’ll buy conventional.
            With both conventional and organic milk they’re usually pasteurized and homogenized. There’s also raw milk, which hasn’t been pasteurized or homogenized, it’s really “straight from the cow.” But that’s hard to find in stores. I don’t believe any store where I live carries it. It’s expensive because a lot of government regulations surround it. When you can buy it in a store, it’s extremely expensive. It is the best if you can find it and are willing to pay the high price. It often tastes the best, too.

    • Mark

      That’s amazing.

  • Felicia

    Would turmeric also work in almond milk?

    • op3mom

      Yes. I make golden milk with unsweetened organic vanilla-flavored almond milk. There are a bunch of recipes out there, but just be sure to add black pepper since it works in synergy with the tumeric.

  • Bach

    Every morning I make a big glass of water with about 1 Tbls of Apple Cider Vinegar, a sprinkle of turmeric and cayenne and then I squeeze some lemon in. It’s supposed to be excellent for inflammation and also weight loss. It seems to give me energy as well and fills me up.

    • Robin Bethea

      Does this help to loose weight

      • LewCid

        *lose

        • Rory Carr

          This lose/loose error which seems to be universal is one that really gets on my goat and I am pleased to at last find a fellow sufferer. I have tried a friendly way of correcting persistent offenders but, to no avail. Now I just suffer in silence.

          • Eric Matterson

            It’s a sixth grade error that 85% of the population makes. SMH

          • NotRick

            Liar

          • Hazel Emily

            Same

    • Charmaine Andre

      I did this, too. A year and a half long. Amazing for the immune system. Until I went to the dentist: dental erosion. So be careful with this powerful drink….

      • Benedicta Nazareth

        is the dental erosion caused by this drink?

      • Moonbirdoasis

        Drink it through a straw and it has less chance of getting onto your teeth.

  • Connie Herndon

    How about the drinks Akins says is good for you. It’s called Lift, 20 grams of protein, 2 net carbs, some fiber, 0 grams sugar, 90 to 100 calories it is sweetened with sucralose. Is this health? Will I lose weight drinking this?

    • Kaylee

      My personal opinion: I am not a fan of artificial sweetners at all. They make the body think that they will be getting a sugar/calorie boost and when that does not happen then it causes your body to CRAVE sugar. Also, a lot of artificial sweeteners are not easy for the body to digest. Again, just my personal opinion.

      • Connie Herndon

        I’ve also been drinking the Total Lean Lean shakes. It’s sweetened with sucrose. It has 20 proteins. I’ve only tried a few of these and they seem more filling. Is this better? I had a lap Band put in an have lost 270 pounds. I was off diet for a while, but I’m starting back to finish losing the 40-50 pounds I want to loose. That’s why I’m trying these different drinks. I also drink Akins Lift and plan water. I’m trying to have 2 liquid meals and one low cal low carb meal, high in protein. It’s working along with my swimming 35-45 minutes 5 days a week.

        • Victoria Cross

          Try Premier Protein shakes. I just had a Sleeve Gastrectomy and need to get 70 grams of protein in, these have 30 grams at 160 calories, 5 grams of carbs and 1 gram of sugar along with 50% of your calcium for the day. I find them quite filling. They do have artificial sweetener, something that really can’t be avoided in protein drinks or else the calorie amount would sky rocket. Another good protein source is Isopure Zero Carb. I get mine at Vitamin Shoppe; it’s 40 grams of protein and 160 calories; it comes in a lot of flavors.

        • Kaylee

          There is an article comparing a bunch of different protein shakes. This is the one for GNC total lean. Honestly I just make sure that I watch what the sweeteners are (not artificial, mine has stevia in it). I would just talk to your doctor about the goals that you have and tell them what you are using for shakes. The biggest thing is that if you are only having ONE actual eaten meal a day and two shakes a day that you need to make sure you are getting all of the proper nutrition vitamin and nutrients wise. Not all meal replacement shakes are created equally.

  • Ralph Davis

    There’s a small error in the portion discussing alcohol. “With 7 calories per gram of alcohol —
    it’s the second most concentrated source of calories, more than both
    carbohydrates and fat.” That should read, “more than both carbohydrates and protein.” Fat has 9 calories per gram, carbs and protein each have 4.

  • Hotbutterknife

    Just a gallon of water and 1 cup of coffee a day the occasional black tea and rarely a juice type drink.

  • Hank Lazar

    It took me ten minutes of going through advertisement and self- aggrandizement to find out about the three “Death Foods”. And why is there an image of beets when there should be an image of yogurt, wheat bread, and cereal bars?!

  • Michelle Charpentier Epperson

    I have struggled for years with weight and digestive issues as well as acid reflux. Is it possible that Kombucha could help with both issues?

    • William R. Jones

      Yes! It helps a lot to quit the gluten though. Brain Maker, David Perlmutter, great book.

    • Jack Roberts

      I found that cutting milk and yoghurt (but not cheese) out of my diet got rid of my acid reflux nearly overnight.

  • harshika gandhi

    A glass of warm water with a 1tbls of organic Turmeric powder, CInnamon powder, honey and lime helps in burning fat and increased metabolism! helped me lose 5 kgs in a short span of time

    • Rory Carr

      You must also add a sprinke of black pepper to release the curcumin, the active ingredient, from the turmeric.

  • Fran Farnan

    I don’t want to be a moaning Michael but in the article above you state that alcohol is the second most concentrated source of calories, more than both carbohydrates and fat. But fat has 9 calories per gram should it not be protein or am I missing something

  • Rory Carr

    It is of little value to take turmeric expecting any benefits unless you add ground black pepper. It is the pepper which releases the active ingredient, curcumin from within the turmeric. Add about 3-4 twists from a black pepper grinder to each teaspoon of turmeric. The recipe for the drink that Bach provides below(1 Tbls of Apple Cider Vinegar, a sprinkle of turmeric and cayenne and then I squeeze some lemon in) is an excellent morning drink but I would use about 1/2 tsp of turmeric together with a grind or two of black pepper. I would also suggest adding 1/2 tsp of cinammon. Enjoy and good health !

  • RonT

    Strongly limit or avoid alcohol, strongly limit or avoid all high calorie drinks and instead focus on drinks with minimal calories. Done. This isn’t exactly rocket-science people.

  • woot696

    I know that for coffee, it *is* possible to get a version that isn’t full of fat and sugar from places like Starbucks. You just need to ASK for it. It’s as simple as asking for sugar-free sweetener/syrup, non-fat milk and skipping things like drizzles and whipped cream. Even 2% milk is fine, plus the extra protein you get from it make it a good choice.

  • Hazel Emily

    I absolutely love this way of dieting it is so easy and simple to influence in to
    your daily life.

  • Eric Martin

    I would recommend watching the Netflix documentary, “What the Health”. Just considering the options for great health.

  • Cheryl McCormick

    SAYS FREE WTH LIARS !!!