At this point, most of us know the basics of what constitutes an unhealthy drink and a healthy one. Sugary juices and sodas are probably best consumed very rarely as they can elevated blood sugar and pack on the pounds, while water can be consumed to your heart’s content—some of us even aim to drink a gallon of water a day in the name of our health … and succeed some of the time.
Water isn’t the only beverage that’s good for your body, though. In fact, there are plenty of other drinks worth adding to your wellness repertoire, many of which may even help you shed unwanted pounds. Intrigued? Here are the 20 best drinks for weight loss.
Weight loss drinks
Acacia Wright, a registered dietitian in Denver, explains that most of us are chronically under-hydrated and completely unaware of it, yet water is one of the most critical nutrients we can consume. “It serves as a medium for most enzymatic and chemical reactions in the body, especially metabolic reactions involved in energy production,” she says. Not only is water needed for proper digestion, absorption and the transportation of nutrients in our body, it helps remove waste and promotes regularity decreasing your chance of constipation and bloating. “Water also acts as a natural appetite suppressant,” says Wright.
Meal replacement shakes
“Meal replacement shakes, along with a balanced diet and exercise, can serve as a powerful addition to any weight-loss regimen,” says Wright. She says to look for those that are packed with hunger-satisfying proteins, organic fruits and vegetables, and vitamins and minerals. “The high protein content can help decrease appetite, curb hunger and promote fullness by increasing levels of hunger-reducing hormones like GLP-1 and decreasing ghrelin, a hormone that increases appetite—all of which are important when looking to lose weight,” she explains. Make sure to read the ingredients and stay away from brands that contain a lot of sugar.
Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has been touted as a superfood. And while the jury’s still out on how much it actually contributes to health or weight loss, some small studies have suggested that it may have some weight loss-inducing properties. One study of 175 participants explored the fact that that acetic acid, a main component of vinegar, may suppress body fat in animals. Study subjects consumed 0, 1, or 2 tablespoons of vinegar for three months and the results found that those that consumed it daily lost an average of 2 to 4 pounds, as well as had lower triglycerides versus those who didn’t intake vinegar. And another study had 39 participants on a 12-week restricted-calorie diet, some with apple cider vinegar, some without. Both groups lost weight, however, the group whose diet included apple cider vinegar lost more.
Related: Best Foods and Drinks for Weight Loss
Drinking a glass of grapefruit juice may have some weight loss benefits. A U.C. Berkeley study fed mice a high-fat diet but also gave them pulp-free grapefruit juice. The control group of mice was given water in place of the citrusy beverage. The mice that drank the grapefruit juice ended up gaining 18.4 percent less weight than those in the water group. That same group of mice also had a decrease in fasting blood glucose levels, as well as fasting serum insulin, liver triacylglycerol (a type of fat) values. Still, further human research is needed to form any conclusive human results.
While fruit can be high in sugar, sipping on some vegetable juice may be a great way to fill you up and ward off the pounds. A 12-week study had participants limiting daily caloric intake to 1,600 for women and 1,800 for men. One group was given 0 fluid ounces of low sodium vegetable juice, another eight ounces, and a third 16 ounces. The groups that consumed the vegetable juice lost more weight than those that didn’t. And as a bonus, they also had a higher intake of vitamin C, potassium, and dietary vegetables.
“Green tea is great for weight loss due to its high content of antioxidants and catechins, which aid in boosting metabolism,” says Bansari Acharya, a registered dietitian and nutritionist in metro Detroit. Numerous studies, she says, have shown its association in decreasing body fat. “If you don’t like the taste of plain green tea, it is available in many different flavors,” Acharya says. You can also add a dash of honey to it to enhance its taste as well as have it hot or cold depending on your preference.
“It is widely understood that a high protein diet can aid weight loss because protein promotes satiety, and it is the most thermodynamically active macronutrient,” says Silvia Carli, a registered dietitian with 1AND1 Life. She notes that protein waters can be a great addition for those who struggle to meet their protein intake via whole foods. “They are low in calories and boosted with vitamins and minerals,” she adds. Carli says to avoid brands that list artificial colorings or added sugars on the ingredient labels. She also stresses: “If you can meet your increased protein needs through whole foods, those are to be preferred.”
Related: Yes, Drinking Too Much Water Is Possible—Here’s How to Know If You’re Overdoing It With the H2O
In 2017, UCLA researchers conducted a study, which revealed that black tea may promote weight loss. The team found that black (and green) tea reduced the amount of gut bacteria associated with obesity, while increasing the gut bacteria related to lean body mass. The study authors hypothesize that certain teas, like black, serve as a form of probiotics, thus helping to inspire the growth of healthy gut bacteria.
“Fruit-infused water is the perfect substitute for a high-calorie, high-sugar beverage,” says Allison Gregg, a clinical dietitian with Mayo Clinic. She adds that high-calorie, high-sugar beverages add up quickly and their calorie content can easily exceed your meal’s calorie content. Try keeping a pitcher of water in the fridge and adding some lemons, oranges, blueberries, or strawberries to it. This can also be a helpful way to make sure you are staying hydrated if you are bored with drinking plain old H2O.
While not the typical beverage you might be thinking of, Doll says adding MCT oil to beverages may be worth a try. MCT oil is a supplement made from a type of fat called medium chain triglycerides (MCT’s). “The benefits of MCT are well known, including the fact that they can enhance energy expenditure and may have a satiating effect, both key factors for weight loss,” Doll explains. Doll says to consider livening up your morning coffee or daily smoothie by adding a teaspoon of MCT Oil and to check out this Coffee Hack recipe for some recipe inspiration.
“This may sound strange, but it is quite delicious and has major fat-burning benefits,” says Trisha Best, a registered dietitian with Balance One. In regards to weight, it helps the body’s cells respond to glucose and insulin, which aids in keeping blood sugar stabilized. Its anti-inflammatory properties can also reduce weight by removing non-fat sources of pounds. Consistent, long-term use of cumin water may aid in decreasing fat deposits throughout the body by regulating insulin because when the cells absorb too much glucose the body converts it to fat. Adequate insulin can mitigate this occurrence.”
“A cup of ginger tea per day has the potential to support health in a variety of ways, including helping you attain your weight loss goals,” says Aryn Doll, a registered dietitian nutritionist and Natural Grocers’ senior nutrition education specialist. Doll adds that ginger, which contains an impressive profile of antioxidant phytonutrients, has been shown to decrease inflammation, promote blood sugar balance, and stimulate digestion. “It may also boost metabolism and suppress your appetite,” she explains.
“One cup of pure coconut water contains just 46 calories, so if you’re replacing a higher calorie juice, soda or latte with coconut water then over time that calorie deficit can lead to weight loss,” explains Carissa Galloway, a Boston and Orlando-based registered dietitian who consults for Premier Protein. She explains that coconut water can also be used as a sports drink option, which has less calories and sodium than traditional sports drinks. “Be sure to read the label to insure you’re not picking a coconut water that has added sugar or more calories than you intend to consume,” warns Galloway.
Tart cherry juice
Tart cherry juice contains many beneficial nutrients, including the antioxidant vitamin C and beneficial plant compounds such as phenols and anthocyanins. “While it won’t magically lead to weight loss, it can be incorporated into a weight loss plan,” says Lisa Young, PhD, RDN, author of Finally Full, Finally Slim and adjunct professor of nutrition at NYU. “It also can help increase the body’s melatonin levels which may improve sleep and reduce insomnia,” she adds.
Psyllium husk in water
Psyllium husk can be a great addition to help you maintain and achieve a healthy weight. “As a dietary fiber, consuming it can support a feeling of fullness, which can help you not overeat,” says Doll. “It can also support detoxification by binding to toxins in the gut and helping remove them from the body.” To use, mix 1 tablespoon of psyllium husk powder into at least 12 ounces of water and consume immediately. Doll says to start with small amounts, gradually increase over several weeks, and be sure to drink plenty of additional fluids throughout the day.
Yerba Mate tea
Organic Yerba Mate tea may work as a weight loss drink due to its appetite-reducing effects. Alicia Galvin, a registered dietitian based in Dallas, says, “The mechanism for appetite suppression is by increasing glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) and leptin levels,” GLP-1, she explains, “is a compound generated in the gut that regulates appetite, while leptin is the hormone that signals fullness.” Galvin says to choose any organic brand that you prefer.
Opt for caffeinated coffee. Galvin says “having caffeine 30 minutes to four hours before a meal may influence stomach emptying, appetite hormones, and feelings of hunger.” She suggests drinking one cup of coffee before a meal and aim for ideally no more than 200mg caffeine (2 cups coffee) daily. “Opt for organic coffee that is chemical, mold and pesticide free,” she adds.
Related: 21 Sugar Free Low Carb Coffee Recipes for Coffee Lovers
“Carbonated water contains zero calories and zero sugar, making it a great alternative to traditional sugar-sweetened sparkling beverages like soda,” explains Mackenzie Burgess, a Colorado-based registered dietitian nutritionist and recipe developer at CheerfulChoices.com. While carbonated water itself is not directly linked to shedding pounds, Burgess notes that overall hydration plays a key role in promoting weight loss. “Try adding fruit, mint, or a squeeze of lemon to naturally flavor your sparkling beverage,” she suggests.
Many people view fennel tea as a weight loss aid because it acts like a diuretic. According to Burgess, diuretics help your body get rid of salt and include your kidneys to release more salt into your urine. “As the sodium leaves your body, it also takes water from your blood, effectively helping you lose water weight,” she explains. But while the number on the scale may decrease temporarily, this is not actual weight loss.
And Burgess says to drink this in moderation, as continued use of diuretics can lead to dehydration. “There are some claims that fennel tea can suppress appetite when eaten before a meal, so if you like fennel tea you can start by trying this once a day,” she explains.
“Similar to fennel tea, dandelion tea is a diuretic,” says Galloway. She notes that if you are feeling bloated, then two cups of dandelion tea could help to ease bloating, but it would not lead to long term weight loss—just water weight loss, which is temporary.
Water with lemon juice, apple cider vinegar and sea salt
Chad Walding, a health coach, ISSA sports nutrition specialist, and founder of NativePath says, “The soluble fiber in lemons kick-starts the digestive system and assists with breaking down and absorbing nutrients from food, and studies show apple cider vinegar improves digestion, enhances detoxification, reduces heartburn, and aids in weight loss.”
He adds that high-quality, unrefined sea salt is a natural electrolyte source and helps balance fluids in the body. “Without proper sodium levels, you risk dehydration and extreme thirst problems,” he says. So this can be great to consume post-sweat session.
Next up, here are 8 benefits of lemon water.
- Acacia Wright, a registered dietitian in Denver
- Bansari Acharya, a registered dietitian and nutritionist in metro Detroit
- Silvia Carli, a registered dietitian with 1AND1 Life
- Allison Gregg, a clinical dietitian with Mayo Clinic
- Trisha Best, a registered dietitian with Balance One
- Aryn Doll, a registered dietitian nutritionist and Natural Grocers
- Carissa Galloway, a Boston and Orlando-based registered dietitian
- Alicia Galvin, a registered dietitian based in Dallas
- Mackenzie Burgess, a Colorado-based registered dietitian nutritionist and recipe developer at CheerfulChoices.com
- Chad Walding, a health coach, ISSA sports nutrition specialist
- Lisa Young, PhD, RDN, author of Finally Full, Finally Slim and adjunct professor of nutrition at NYU
- Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry: “Vinegar Intake Reduces Body Weight, Body Fat Mass, and Serum Triglyceride Levels in Obese Japanese Subjects”
- Journal of Functional Foods: “Beneficial effects of Apple Cider Vinegar on weight management, Visceral Adiposity Index and lipid profile in overweight or obese subjects receiving restricted calorie diet: A randomized clinical trial”
- PLOS ONE: “Consumption of Clarified Grapefruit Juice Ameliorates High-Fat Diet Induced Insulin Resistance and Weight Gain in Mice”
- BMC Nutrition Journal: “Weight loss in individuals with metabolic syndrome given DASH diet counseling when provided a low sodium vegetable juice: a randomized controlled trial.”
- UCLA: “Black tea might help with weight loss, too.”