According to Madelyn Fernstrom, author of “The Real You Diet,” the human body does not sense liquid calories very well. Fernstrom says that when dieting, we tend to count calories only from the foods we eat, ignoring the many calories ingested from liquids. Fortunately, there are a number of low-calorie drinks to choose from that will satisfy thirst and taste buds without sabotaging weight loss.
There are many types of herbal teas available in health stores and even regular supermarkets being marketed to promote weight loss. Examples include green, pu-erh and oolong teas. According to the University of Maryland, clinical studies indicate that green tea extract may help to burn fat and increase metabolism. However, studies related to herbal teas and weight loss are few, and more need to be conducted to determine whether herbal teas do indeed cause weight loss. However, simply replacing milky coffee and other hot drinks with unsweetened herbal teas will reduce daily calories. A cup of white coffee with one teaspoon of sugar has around 50 calories; whereas a cup of unsweetened herbal tea is calorie-free. A person who drinks two white coffees daily will lose around a pound every 35 days by switching to herbal teas.
Consuming plenty of water ensures the body remains hydrated and prevents water retention. Common symptoms of water retention are bloating and weight gain. In addition, drinking a glass of water several minutes before a meal can cause feelings of fullness, so dieters are less likely to overeat. Furthermore, a German study found that participants who raised their water intake to 2 liters or 64 oz. of water daily, lost an average of 95 calories more.
Diet drinks do not contain calories but should still be consumed in extreme moderation, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. Diet sodas are calorie-free and do not provide the body with energy. However, because diet drinks are sweet, they may confuse the body, which associates sweetness with energy. Studies on rats show that those given sugar substitutes gain more weight than those fed regular sugar. While this is not conclusive, the university recommends drinking diet soda only occasionally. Furthermore, Aspartame, commonly used to sweeten diet drinks, has also been linked to a higher risk of cancer.
Alcoholic drinks are optimally avoided on a weight loss diet. Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram, which is almost as high as the 9 calories provided by fat. However unlike fats, the calories from alcohol do not have any nutritional value and are “empty calories.” Also, when alcohol is consumed, the body will first use the calories from the alcohol as energy, ignoring stored deposits of fat and hindering the fat-burning process.
The Bottom Line
Plenty of water should be taken throughout the day; a dash of fresh lime or lemon juice can be added for enhanced flavor and a vitamin boost. Hot milky drinks such as coffee or cocoa are ideally replaced with unsweetened herbal teas. Diet drinks and alcohol are optimally avoided; however, the occasional glass of wine will not ruin a weight reduction diet.