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Good drinks & bad drinks for weight loss

We all know keeping well hydrated is essential for good health, but with a growing array of drink options it can be hard to decide on how to achieve this without adding hundreds of calories to your diet....

drink water A hundred thousand years ago, the choice was simple when it came to a drink ­ there was no choice! It was water or nothing. What a different world we live in today - diet soft drinks, ice teas, fruit juices, coolers and more. Over the past 20 years, the average person has added between 630 kJ (150 calories) and 1,260 kJ (300 calories) to our daily diet ­ and half of this is from drinks. This energy from drinking equates to several kilograms of weight gained each year, so it pays to make the right choice when it comes to being hydrated!

So what should we be drinking for weight loss? A panel of US researchers reviewed the available medical literature on drinks and health benefits (or harms) to answer this question. The findings are published in the latest American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

List of drinks

The top of the list of drinks for weight loss is water, it has no kilojoules at all, and no nutrients either. Ideally, we'd drink only water and let the nutrients come from a balanced food diet. So if you are serious about your health and losing weight, water is your only choice. If you dont like the non-taste then try squeezing a few drops of lemon or lime into your glass, adding ice to make it more refreshing, or even buy the low calorie flavoured waters from a shop.

Next best, in terms of health is tea. Both black and green tea contain antioxidants and may lower the risk of heart disease and possibly cancer. Green tea has also been linked to a better metabolism and weight loss, so that's another tick for green tea.

drinks weight lossCoffee is also high on the list ­ it appears to lower the risk of diabetes and possibly bowel cancer (decaffeinated coffee too). Adding milk, cream, and/or sugar pushes it down the list because of added kilojoules. The study recommended you have less than 400 mg of caffeine a day (four or five cups of medium strength coffee) is safe, but if you are having espresso made coffees we would recommend no more than 2 cups a day. Go for skim milk with your latte's because full cream milk in a regular sized espresso coffee contains a significant number of calories!

Next on the list are low fat milk products. They're a good source of protein, calcium and Vitamin D and great for strong bones. Full cream milk on the other hand is high in calories and saturated fat, so obviously not ideal for weight loss. It should be avoided, the researchers say.

Next is diet soft drinks, which are often very low in calories but they do contain artificial sweeteners. So they're good drinks for low calories and weight loss, but there is a question mark over the health of artificial sweeteners. While there's no evidence that the artificial sweeteners are harmful, but there’s no evidence that they’re safe over the long term either! It's hard to know what is right to do here: short term you reduce calories which is good, but long term all those chemicals might cause harm. Best solution: go for water!

Next are fruit juices. These are high in calories and not much fibre - it's better to eat the fruit itself. Vegetable juices have less calories than fruit juices, but again it's better to eat the vegetables. Smoothies are especially high in kilojoules and should be avoided if you are aiming for weight loss.

Then there’s alcohol. Small to moderate amounts - one drink a day for women and two for men ­ reduces the risk of heart disease and stroke. But in large amounts alcohol causes diseases like liver cirrhosis and cancer. Beware of spirit-based cooler style drinks which are sweetened with sugars and are high in calories. If you have spirits go for low calories mixers like soda water or diet soft drink. Light beer is much lower calories than full strength, and look at our article on alcohol and weight loss for more information.

At the bottom of the list are soft drinks. They are high sugar and high in kilojoules thus contributing to dental caries, obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It cant be said strongly enough: do not consume soft drinks if you desire weight loss!! They are completely empty of nutritional value, add large amounts of calories from sugar, and you can avoid all this by choosing options further up this list....with the best being water!

So the message is very clear if you want to lose weight: avoid soft drinks and fruit juices, and opt for water, black tea or coffee, low fat milk and a little alcohol instead.

Source and original article: ABC Health Online.

To find out more about good drinks for weight loss, calories in drinks, or your individual nutritional needs please contact us!


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