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What to drink when you’re trying to lose weight

Here’s the tea on the beverages that could help you sip your way to your happy weight.

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healthy green smoothie
Natalia Klenova/The Picture Pantry
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The words “weight-loss drinks” might call to mind not so savory detox teas or chalky meal replacement shakes. But some of your favorite beverages could be the key to shifting the numbers on the scale. Certain coffee, teas, and juices can help boost your metabolism, make you feel fuller longer and decrease your hunger -- all of which may help you reach your body goals.


coffee mug with coffee beans
Lisovskaya Natalia/The Picture Pantry

If you can’t start your day without a cup of joe, you’ll be happy to know that your favorite morning pick-me-up might also help you reach your weight loss goals.

But here’s the thing – the coffee must be unsweetened. Researchers found that while increased coffee intake helped people lose weight, adding a teaspoon of sugar canceled out the effect.

Here’s why coffee may affect weight loss:

· The caffeine in your coffee can encourage thermogenesis, the process by which your body produces heat and burns calories.

· Coffee contains natural compounds that interact with the body, like chlorogenic acids and polyphenols, that can improve insulin sensitivity and glucose metabolism.

· Caffeine can be a natural appetite-suppressant and thus could reduce your caloric intake.

· Caffeine can improve your endurance and physical performance, which means you may be more motivated to exercise, and your workouts could be more effective.

But wait! There’s more! Drinking coffee may reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and several other conditions.

Green tea

Long before green tea because the “it” drink for wellness here in the West, green tea was used in traditional Chinese medicine for headaches, wound healing, and a host of other ailments. Rich in nutrients and antioxidants, green tea may have many health benefits – including weight loss.

Experts say that the caffeine and the flavonoid called catechin that green tea contains may help rev up your metabolism by increasing the amount of energy your body uses. On top of that, catechin also helps your body break down fat.

If you want your green tea to pack a bigger punch, try matcha green tea which contains nutrients from the entire tea leaf and thus more caffeine and more antioxidants.

If you add sugar to your tea there’s a chance it could still help you lose weight – especially if you’re sipping tea instead of guzzling soda – but remember that by adding sugar you’re also adding calories, and thus limiting your weight-loss potential.

Black Tea

When it comes to weight-loss friendly teas, green tea usually gets all the attention. But black tea deserves some time in the spotlight too.

One study, published in the European Journal of Nutrition, found that both green and black tea may aid in weight loss, increase the gut bacteria that’s related to lean body mass, and decrease in the gut bacteria associated with obesity.

Ginger tea

Ginger tea with a ginger root and lemon
Tajda Ferko/The Picture Pantry

Ginger tea has entered the chat to let you know that green tea and black tea aren’t the only brews you should keep on hand.

A 2015 study based out of Tabriz University of Medical Sciences had a group of women with obesity take two 1-gram tablets of powdered ginger every day for 12 weeks. The women not only had a decreased appetite, but they also got slimmer, compared to the women of the control group who took a placebo.

Furthermore, a review of studies on ginger’s health benefits found that ginger intake can reduce body weight as well as waist-to-hip ratio.

Cinnamon tea

You may have a friend who claims that cinnamon tea helped them slip into that dress they wore to their high school reunion, but experts say the jury is still out when it comes to the weight loss benefits of cinnamon tea. More studies that control for calorie intake and that differentiate between fat and muscle loss are needed.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give cinnamon tea a try. Research has shown that it may help lower blood sugar levels. You see, this spice may slow down how quickly your body breaks down carbs, which can help prevent those post-meal blood sugar spikes. Cinnamon also behaves a lot like insulin, which means it can give your body extra help with getting sugar out of your bloodstream.

Apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar
Natalia Klenova/The Picture Pantry

Apple cider vinegar drinks have become quite popular as of late and are often touted for boosting weight loss and having a host of other health benefits.

Clinical trial data published in the Journal of Functional Foods found that folks on calorie-cutting diets who added 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to their diets for 12 weeks lost considerably more weight than those who skipped the vinegar. Additionally, apple cider vinegar may help shrink belly fat, lower triglyceride levels and even chip away at your overall body fat percentage.

But proceed with caution. Experts say much of the research on apple cider vinegar and weight loss is inconsistent or incomplete. Plus, too much apple cider vinegar could interact with medications you may be taking and even damage your teeth.

Vegetable juice

According to the Centers for Disease Control, only 10 percent of adults are eating an adequate number of vegetables. If you’re struggling to get in 2 to 3 cups of veggies each day, try adding vegetable juice to the mix.

One study published in the Nutrition Journal found that adults following a low-calorie diet who also drank a cup of low-sodium vegetable juice each day not only increased their vegetable consumption, but also lost significantly more weight than those who didn’t add vegetable juice to their diets.

That said, don’t rely on vegetable juice for all your veggie intake. You still want to reach for whole vegetables as often as possible because they’re going to give your body the fiber it needs. Fiber is important – especially if you’re trying to lose weight – because it can help you feel full.

Remember that beverages like green tea and coffee are not magic elixirs. To shed pounds, you’ll still need to exercise regularly and eat a healthful diet with plenty of vegetables. But sipping these weight-loss friendly drinks – sans added sugar -- could help curb cravings and give you the boost you need to get to your happy weight sooner.

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