As you make your way on your weight loss journey, you’re likely focused on getting more exercise and making better food choices. (Virtual pat on the back!) But even as you zero in on moving your body and eating right, you might be overlooking a key element of your daily intake: what you drink.
Since drinks go down easy (and don’t usually make us feel full) it can sometimes feel like liquid calories don’t count. But the fact is, certain beverages can be a major source of extra calories — and liquid calories do count when it comes to losing weight. Sodas, energy drinks, alcohol, and other high-calorie drinks can add a significant amount to your daily total, sometimes without you even realizing it.
The problem isn’t just that high-calorie drinks don’t fill you up. Research shows that drinking sweetened beverages like soda can actually make you feel hungrier.1 Some people also find that alcohol acts as an appetite stimulant. It’s not hard to see how steadily sipping on these drinks could sabotage even your best weight loss efforts.
You can stay on track with your health goals by making smarter beverage choices. And take heart: plain water isn’t your only option! Plenty of low- and no-calorie drinks can add flavor and variety to your daily hydration.
Try one or all of these 11 healthy drinks for weight loss.
When trying to lose weight, you don’t have to chug water nonstop — or even stick exclusively to H2O — but it is the very best beverage for everyday hydration. Since plain water contains no calories, you can feel good about drinking as much of it as you like.
Besides being calorie-free, water may boost your weight loss efforts in other ways, too. One small study found that drinking water slightly increased metabolism, helping people burn more calories.2 And a systematic review that looked at multiple studies showed that adding extra water to a weight loss program helped people shed more pounds.3
Unsure about how much water to drink for weight loss? Check out our handy guide!
2. Unsweetened Sparkling Water
Sparkling water is having a major moment. Sales of both plain and flavored bubbly water jumped dramatically from 2015 to 2019, with no signs of slowing down.4 The popularity of these beverages can be a very good thing for those working toward losing weight. Unsweetened sparkling water contains no calories, and with its fizzy pop and hint of flavor, may feel more novel and special than plain water. When choosing carbonated water, just be sure to select one without added sugar.
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3. Fruit or Vegetable Infused Water or Ice Cubes
Drinking plain water all day can, admittedly, get a little boring. If ordinary water leaves you uninspired, try creating your own easy fruit- or veggie-infused water. By popping fresh produce in your water bottle, you’ll dress up your hydration with color and taste — and add some vitamins while you’re at it!
Lemon, orange, strawberry, or cucumber slices all make for more interesting sipping. You can even experiment with adding fresh herbs like mint or rosemary to the mix. The flavor combos are endless.
4. Tea (Green, Black, Herbal)
Tea is an unsung hero of weight loss. All teas contain antioxidants — the compounds that help clean your cells of damaging free radicals — and some may go the extra mile by promoting weight loss. Green tea has particular promise in this area. A meta-analysis of 11 studies determined that the antioxidants and caffeine in green tea had a small but positive effect on weight loss and weight management.5 However, more research is needed to determine exactly how much tea you’d have to drink to experience these effects.
If a steaming cup of green isn’t your fave, you can’t go wrong with black or herbal teas, either. With zero calories and antioxidants galore, these are excellent choices to include in your repertoire of weight loss-friendly drinks.
You may have heard conflicting reports about whether coffee can help with weight loss. A venti-sized, whipped cream-laden blended drink certainly won’t, but a regular cup of joe sure might!
Studies show that coffee — especially the fully loaded kind, not decaf — might help boost your metabolism and reduce weight, BMI, and body fat.6,7 Pro tip: Stick to brewed coffee with nonfat or low-fat milk (or another milk of your choice) and skip adding sweeteners and sugary creamers to keep your morning cup of Joe weight loss-friendly.
6. Protein Shake
Enjoying a balanced mix of macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats and proteins) is important for your health and weight loss success. Each macronutrient has its own benefits. Protein not only builds muscle, it can also keep you full. Try a protein shake for a filling start to your day or as fuel on a low-energy afternoon.
Need some inspiration? Jenny Craig’s Chocolate and Vanilla shake mixes contain just 100 calories and provide a substantial 16 grams of protein. Plus, they’re loaded with probiotics which can benefit your gut health.8 (And they’re tasty, to boot!) Or whip up your own protein shake in the blender with protein powder, frozen fruit, and a low-calorie liquid like almond milk, rice milk or coconut water.
7. Apple Cider Vinegar
Sure, you might not want to sip on apple cider vinegar all day, but in small amounts, this tangy drink may have some benefits, including promoting weight loss. The evidence for apple cider vinegar’s effects on weight are mixed — and it’s certainly not a magic bullet for dropping pounds — but some studies have indicated that it could curb appetite and reduce body fat.9,10
A little bit of apple cider vinegar goes a long way. Because of its acidity, it’s best to only consume it in small doses (and you may prefer to dilute it with water).
8. Coconut Water
Want to take a virtual tropical vacation? Try a glass of coconut water — the clear liquid that comes from the inside of a coconut. Although coconuts themselves are high-calorie, their water is not. One cup of this beverage only clocks in at about 45 calories, with just a trace of fat.11 The additional bonus: Coconut water is chock full of electrolytes like potassium, sodium and magnesium.
As you enjoy your tropical sipping, just remember that all coconut waters aren’t created equal. Some commercial varieties come with added sweeteners, so keep tabs on serving sizes and added sugars.
9. Vegetable Juice
Fruit juice may be your go-to morning beverage, but don’t discount vegetable juice! Veggie juices often contain fewer calories — and almost always fewer sugars — than their sweeter fruit juice counterparts. You can expect just 40 calories from a 6-ounce can of vegetable juice cocktail.12
Not only do veggie juices not break your calorie budget, but they’ll also help you reach your daily target of nutrients, too. Many options are high in potassium, iron and vitamin A. If you’ve got a juicer, you can even try your hand at making your own — a celery juice, perhaps?
While it is better to eat your vegetables instead of drink them (you’ll likely feel more full from the dietary fiber and they’ll take longer to consume), vegetable juice is a good option for picky eaters who are trying to lose weight.
10. Bone Broth
On a chilly day, there’s nothing more soothing than a cup of soup — so how about sipping broth as a comforting drink? While any broth, from chicken to vegetable, can serve as a savory, low-cal beverage, bone broth offers a particular advantage for weight loss. Because of its high protein content, it may be more filling than other varieties of broth or stock.13
At the end of a long day, there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself to a special beverage. That said, traditional cocktails, beer, and wine can seriously set back your weight loss efforts. A single 5-ounce glass of wine contains around 120 calories, while a 12-ounce beer typically nets you 150 calories.14,15 After a few rounds, the calories add up fast.
Instead, shave off calories (and be kind to your liver) with a lighter mocktail. Grab a swizzle stick and channel your inner bartender by stirring up sparkling water with juice or a nonalcoholic mixer. Not only will you stick with your weight loss goals, but you’ll also feel a whole lot better the next morning.
Are you ready to take your weight loss to the Max? Jenny Craig can help! Learn more about our most effective and holistic program ever — Max Up!