Drinks are seemingly innocent when compared to food, but in reality, you could be packing quite the sugar and fat punch in your beverages. A package of just 20 ounces of lemonade, for instance, can have around 250 calories and an astounding 68 grams of sugar!
Things like sodas and milk shakes are even worse, with calorie counts that climb well into the hundreds. Even “safe” drinks, like coffee, become calorie monsters when you start adding sugars and creams to them.
Luckily, you don’t have to give up sweet, refreshing drinks in order to lose a few pounds. Try the following six drinks to get your sweet fix, quench your thirst and even boost your weight loss all at the same time.
1. Flavor Your Water
Water is essential for weight loss, as it helps your body keep its correct fluid balance and reduces water retention, which can bloat your belly and other parts of your body. It also can increase how full you feel, so you eat less, and it aids your digestion.
A big part of not drinking enough water is its taste or lack thereof. But you can flavor your water to give it that extra something so it’s more appealing to drink. Add fresh fruits, such as lemon or watermelon, or use no-calorie water flavorings, which are available in liquid and packet forms.
No-calorie flavorings are a great option when you’re on the go, as some are even pre-measured for a standard bottle of water.
Experiment with fresh fruit combos at home to make special treats for yourself and your whole family. You can slice or crush most fruits. Crushing will release more flavor but can be messier to drink, so play around with the different methods to find your ideal preparations for each fruit you’re trying.
Note that when you’re using fruit as your flavoring, it takes some time for the natural goodness to seep into the water. Put the fruit into a pitcher or mason jar with water and refrigerate at least overnight before drinking. Cucumbers are also a popular item to add to water, and they are often paired with lavender, lemon or mint for a crisp balance.
2. Grab A Watermelon Smoothie
Smoothies are great liquid pick-me-ups, as long as you don’t use a sugary mix like sherbet or ice cream. Watermelon, for instance, is a good low-calorie base for smoothies. This melon is a natural source of hydration thanks to its water content, and it’s loaded with other nutrients, including the cancer-fighter lycopene.
Watermelon also has arginine, an amino acid that may increase your lean muscle mass and decrease your body fat, as found in a study published in the Journal of Nutrition.
If you like to mix things up, you can make a simple tropical smoothie using watermelon, pineapple, mango and coconut water. Simply blend a cup of the coconut water, four cups of cubed, seedless watermelon, and two cups each of the pineapple and mango until pureed.
You can add ice to your taste before blending. You can drink your smoothie right away, or store it in the fridge for two to three days. Making up your smoothie ahead of time is recommended if you plan to take it with you to work or as you go about your day, since they do take a little time to make.
You can make other fruit smoothies following roughly the same sort of recipe. Berries, oranges and pineapple are other popular bases for smoothies.
3. Try Some Iced Peppermint Tea
A minty, cold tea is a great way to refresh without packing on the pounds. Peppermint especially is good for dropping some belly pounds, as it helps your stomach process fats. This means that even foods with high fat content, such as steaks and burgers, are digested faster to help ward off bloating.
You can actually make your own tea so that there are no added ingredients, like sugars or artificial flavoring. Simply steep one to two tablespoons of fresh or dried mint leaves per cup for about 10 minutes for hot tea.
For the iced version, let it cool down after you’ve steeped it, and add ice to your taste. If iced mint tea is a little strong for you, try adding other natural flavors, such as lemon, for a lighter taste.
4. Pick The Pineapple Frappe
A frappe is similar to a smoothie, but you don’t usually add any milk ingredients. Add pineapple and ice to a blender and process until smooth to make a basic frappe. For an extra belly fat fighting kick, add one tablespoon of flax-seed oil, which contains the monounsaturated fatty acids that have been proven to help shrink your belly.
Pineapple on its own is also a source of bromelain, which is an enzyme that aids the breaking down of protein. This action can ease your digestion and help reduce bloating.
5. Go For Green Tea
Green tea, according to WebMD, contains catechins, which are antioxidants that can help fight off cell damage and help prevent cancer. Some studies have also shown that EGCG, the active ingredient in green tea, may help you drop pounds when drunk before aerobic exercise.
Green tea comes in many forms, from bags to be steeped to fresh leaves you can process yourself and even pre-made cold in bottles. Look for teas that are all-natural, with no added ingredients like sugar or artificial fillers.
6. Enjoy A Dark Chocolate Shake
While these types of shakes tend to be more of a meal than just a snack, chocolate can help you drop pounds because it lessens food cravings and reduces your appetite, and dark chocolate is your best option since it contains less milk. The trick here is to keep it simple and not add ingredients that will boost the calorie or sugar content, like other candy types.
You can use a little bit of protein powder to make your shake a meal replacement. Combine 1.5 scoops of your favorite chocolate protein powder with one cup of chocolate almond milk, and use ice cubes to your taste. More ice cubes will make it thicker.
Feel free to experiment with the drink recipes above, and don’t be afraid to make some of your own. The key here is to make a drink that satisfies you but doesn’t contain unhealthy ingredients or added sugars.
Look into ingredients to make drink combinations before selecting them, so you don’t end up adding something to your beverage creations that will add pounds. Also, don’t be afraid to be adventurous! What sounds questionable on paper may end up tasting delicious, so be bold and creative to keep yourself satisfied and interested in what you’re doing.