According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 71.6% of people in the United States aged 20 or older are overweight or have obesity. However, when it comes to losing weight, there are no quick fixes.
Most often, weight loss involves changing eating, drinking, and exercise habits.
Increasing daily activity levels and consuming the right amounts of high quality, nutrient dense foods can help a person lose weight.
No specific drink leads to weight loss, but some drinks may support the necessary lifestyle changes.
In this article, we look at drinks that may help people lose weight. We also investigate which drinks to avoid and give other weight loss tips.
Drinks that may support weight loss
The following beverages may help promote weight loss if a person incorporates them into a healthful diet and activity plan:
Water is a good choice for weight loss, as it contains no calories.
Water is one of the most healthful drinks — it contains no calories, facilitates metabolic and physiologic processes and aids in detoxification, among many other benefits.
For people looking to manage their weight, many health organizations, including the CDC, recommend either choosing water instead of more caloric beverages or increasing overall water consumption.
Researchers have found links between regular consumption of green and black tea and reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, some cancers, and diabetes.
Additional studies suggest that green tea can help people lose weight and keep it off because of two key ingredients: caffeine and a compound called epigallocatechin gallate.
However, a review of multiple studies found that, in most cases, weight loss resulting from green tea was not statistically significant. When green tea did make a difference, the procedures involved were more complicated than simply drinking the tea.
Apple cider vinegar
Many people claim that apple cider vinegar has health benefits, including aiding weight loss.
One small study found that participants on a restricted-calorie diet who also took apple cider vinegar experienced more weight loss and lower cholesterol levels than others who only followed the diet.
Meal replacement shakes
People looking to lose weight may find meal replacement shakes a useful option, particularly if a busy lifestyle means that it is difficult to make time for healthful meals.
Eating a balanced, nutrient-dense meal or snack is ideal, but a replacement shake can be healthful and satisfying. Many of these shakes contain a range of important nutrients, protein, and fiber, with fewer calories than processed foods.
However, not all meal replacement shakes are healthful. It is important to be mindful of the ingredients and nutrition information.
If a person wishes to try meal replacement shakes, they should be sure to check the labels and avoid options that contain unhealthful ingredients, such as added sugars, artificial sweeteners, and corn syrups.
Some research suggests that meal replacement shakes can help people start to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
One 2011 review of studies reported evidence that shakes could to lead to significant weight loss, while others studies in the analysis were inconclusive.
Protein shakes may help in reducing hunger.
Protein shakes do not contain the nutrition of a balanced meal or some meal replacement shakes.
However, consuming a high amount of protein may help reduce hunger and maintain a feeling of fullness. As a result, a person may consume fewer calories after a protein shake, and this could help with weight loss.
It is important to be aware, however, that protein shakes also contain calories. As with meal replacement shakes, a person should check for unhealthful ingredients in protein shakes.
Drinks containing ginger
People have used ginger to improve digestive health for hundreds of years. Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and can be a healthful addition to hot tea or sparkling water.
However, some ginger drinks have added sugar, which promotes inflammation and weight gain.
One small study found that drinking a beverage of hot tea and ginger powder decreased hunger, increased a feeling of fullness, and encouraged the body to burn calories.
As there were only 10 participants in the study, however, confirming the findings will require further research.
Carbonated, or sparkling, water can be a good alternative to sugary carbonated beverages, such as sodas.
Carbonated water can encourage the body to feel full, which may lead a person to consume fewer calories.
Drinks to avoid
Experts have noted that people feel less full or satisfied after consuming calories in beverages, compared with those in solid foods.
Authors of a study from 2006 reported that people in the U.S. who are older than 2 years consumed 21% of their calories in beverages, while many drinks offer very little nutritional value.
Anyone looking to lose weight should avoid the following types of drinks:
Sweetened soft drinks
Full of calories and low in nutrients, sweetened, carbonated beverages such as sodas do not aid weight loss.
A 12-ounce (oz) can of soda can contain around 10–13 teaspoons (tsp) of sugar, depending on the drink.
Fruit juices and smoothies
Fruit juices have some nutritional benefits. However, though the sugar in them is naturally derived, juices contain so much sugar that they add a lot of calories to the diet.
A 12-oz serving of orange juice contains 10 tsp of sugar, while the same serving of a smoothie typically has even more sugar.
When a person opts for juice, it is important to choose 100% fruit juice with no added sugar and to be mindful of portion sizes.
Energy and sports drinks also deliver some benefits, but they are typically high in calories. The following figures are for 12 oz of each type of drink:
- sports drinks: 5–10 tsp of sugar
- energy drinks: 10–14 tsp of sugar
Also, energy drinks often contain artificial sweeteners, which may not be healthful.
Coffee shop drinks
Rich drinks and sweetened teas can add plenty of sugar and calories to the diet. A 12-oz serving of iced tea can have 3–8 tsp of sugar.
Coffee drinks often contain more sugar than the recommended amount for the whole day, which is 6 tsp for women and 9 tsp for men.
Alcohol does not mix well with weight loss for several reasons:
- Alcoholic drinks contain many calories — a 12-oz beer has 150 calories, while a 5-oz glass of white wine has 100 calories.
- Mixers, such as fruit juice or soda, increase the calorie count of each drink.
- Drinking can lower inhibitions, making it more likely for dieters to eat foods that they are trying to avoid.
- Drinking interferes with digestion and sleep, complicating weight loss.
Tips for making more healthful drink choices
Some drinks are less healthful than they seem. The following strategies can help a person make drink choices that support weight loss:
- Read nutrition labels to learn exactly how many calories are in each serving.
- Double-check serving sizes, as some small containers contain multiple servings.
- At a coffee shop, ask for a smaller size and lower-fat milk.
- Avoid flavored syrups and whipped cream.
- At a bar, alternate alcoholic drinks with water or low-calorie beverages.
Other general weight loss tips
Making lifestyle changes, such as walking more, can help a person lose weight.
Losing weight can be a difficult process, and the following tips can help:
- Look for long term solutions instead of quick fixes.
- Gradually make changes that can become part of a more healthful lifestyle, such as drinking water instead of sweet beverages with meals, walking more, and driving less.
- To make water more appealing, try adding lemon, lime, cucumber, or watermelon slices.
While no single drink can achieve weight loss, certain drinks and drinking strategies can help.
Anyone looking to lose weight would benefit from favoring water and low-calorie beverages over drinks that contain sugars or fats.
It is worth noting that little, if any, scientific evidence suggests that drinks can further weight loss, including tea, apple cider vinegar, and ginger drinks. However, these tend to be more healthful and low in calories than other options.