Most people know by now that you can make a lot of progress toward your weight loss goals by ditching soda. (And soda sales are dropping year by year, so we're getting pretty good at this!) While sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) like colas, fruit juices, and sports drinks account can add hundreds of unnecessary calories to your diet (according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention), and lead to weight gain, certain low-calorie drinks can help you do the opposite: like increase your metabolism, stabilize blood sugars, and control cravings. Now, these refreshments are in no way miracle brews that will accelerate your progress overnight. But if you're planning to lose weight through other lifestyle changes as well, these 15 healthy drinks could give you a boost on your journey.
You might think that water is a no-brainer because, duh, it has no calories! But H2O has even more qualities that make it extremely useful for weight loss. Researchers have found that your resting energy expenditure (or the amount of calories burned while being still) can increase up to 24-30% within 10 minutes of drinking water. It also helps the kidneys and liver do their thing, and staying hydrated also helps to satisfy your appetite. In fact, many people confuse hunger for thirst. Next time you think you need to grab a snack, try downing a glass of water first and see how you feel.
Green teas have two major ingredients that aid in releasing weight: caffeine and antioxidants. Caffeine is a stimulant known to increase calorie expenditure and to improve performance during exercise. A cup of green tea contains 24-40 mg of caffeine. Green tea also contains a powerful antioxidant called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG)—another metabolism booster—which can help break down excess fat in the body.
Lemon water has not been proven to increase metabolism or detoxification. But dropping some lemon juice in your water is a great low-calorie option to flavor—what many consider to be—a boring beverage. So if you're having trouble downing enough water during the day, try squeezing this fruit into your drink. Lemon juice is also packed with vitamin C which can improve your immunity, increase iron absorption, and help reduce your risks of certain cancers.
This powerful root's role in weight loss has more to do with reversing symptoms that often hinder people from losing weight. For example, ginger has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that can help prevent cardiovascular damage and other stressors. Thanks to a compound called gingerol, ginger has the potential to improve blood sugar levels and reduce "bad" cholesterol. Some research also suggests that drinking ginger water before meals can help your tummy feel full.
Fennel water is clutch because it helps reduce indigestion, which in some cases can contribute to weight gain. The antibacterial properties in fennel seeds will help to maintain a healthy gut and allow you to more easily process food. Despite what some health gurus say, scientists are still studying whether or not fennel makes a good appetite suppressor. Regardless, if you love the taste of licorice, fennel tea might be a nice, sweet, low-cal sip.
The key weight-loss ingredient in apple cider vinegar is acetic acid. Acetic acid can also improve metabolism, decrease insulin levels, and curb cravings. One study conducted on people with type 1 diabetes found that apple cider vinegar slows the rate in which food empties from your stomach. This means that adding a few spoons of it to your drinks could help you feel fuller, longer. Just a warning, though: Consuming beverages that are high in acid can erode your teeth and aggravate heartburn.
In Ayurvedic practices, ajwain or carom seeds have been used to treat ulcers and indigestion, which can contribute to weight gain and bloating. Carom seeds are said to have anti-fungal and antibacterial qualities that can kill off any buggers in your gut. In regards to its direct effect on weight loss, more studies need to be conducted, but some ajwain tea could have some overall positive effects digestive health.
If you really want to feel full, try dumping some protein powder in your morning shakes. Protein is a macronutrient that keeps your stomach feeling satisfied. It activates hormones like GLP-1, which reduce hunger sensations, and decreases ghrelin, a hormone that controls your appetite. So whether it's whey, pea, hemp, or rice protein, choose whatever suits your digestive needs. But make sure to read the labels so are not consuming a product that has too much sugar or any harmful ingredients.
Fruit juice may be high sugar, but fresh vegetable juice is a great low-carb drink. Many people know that veggie juice is chockfull of vitamins and nutrients that are vital to overall health. But researchers have also found that people who drink a lot of veggie juice end up increasing their vegetable consumption. This could help a person lose weight—especially considering the fact that veggies contain a lot of fiber, which can stave off hunger pangs.
Cumin—the spice that makes curry yummy—has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties thanks to an active ingredient called thymoquinone. So if you're feeling heavy and bloated, cumin tea could work wonders. Cumin can also lower blood sugar and LDL cholesterol levels, which may affect a person's ability to exercise safely. While some studies have backed cumin as a decent weight loss supplement, more research needs to be done to confirm its direct effectiveness.
Compared to black and green teas, coffee has the most caffeine with about 95 mg per cup. As mentioned before, caffeine is a stimulant that can hike up how many calories you burn. Coffee also contains theobromine, theophylline, and chlorogenic acid, three compounds that are known to affect metabolism. Unfortunately, the calorie-burning qualities in coffee don't last forever. Coffee drinkers actually become tolerant to these effects over time. So when it comes to losing weight in the long-run, coffee should definitely not be relied upon.
After a solid workout, almost nothing tastes better than a tall bottle of something cold and refreshing. Many sports drinks are formulated to refuel those participating in high-intensity exercise that lasts an hour or more. This often means they may have an excess amount of sugar that's not needed for the average exercising adult who's just trying to lose weight. So if you're not training for the NYC marathon or something that requires rigorous exercise, try coconut water. Pure coconut water contains less sugar and has five key electrolytes: sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus.
When you put this soluble fiber in water it transforms into a liquid-y gel you can add to your smoothies or slurp it down on its own. Fiber, in general, is incredibly useful when you want to stay full and reduce how much you're eating. But one 2016 study has found that psyllium husk is especially good at keeping people feeling satisfied in between meals. If you're doc allows, take some of psyllium husk gel before you chow down and see how long you stay full afterwards.
Pucker up, y'all. This sour drink may pack 25 grams of sugar per 8 ounce serving, but a shot of this can help to reduce inflammation and muscle pain after exercise. This can come in handy if you're ramping up your workouts to fit your weight loss goals, as the body often tends to get sore while it's adapting to a new routine. If it works for you, you might be able to kiss your Bengay goodbye. Here's to not smelling like a human peppermint!