As Americans, we consume entirely too much sugar. According to the American Dietary Guidelines, sugar-laden beverages account for almost half (47%) of all added sugars consumed by the U.S. population. To put it in perspective, one can of soda is about 40 grams of sugar, and yet the daily recommended value in total for the entire day is 24-36 grams. That’s pretty shocking!
When it comes down to it, one of the best ways to drop weight is to be aware of your sugar and salt intake and to remove sugar whenever possible. Since beverages account for so many of our daily calories (one out of every five!), we looked into comparing some drinks that are better options for helping you reach your weight loss goals.
The Best (and Worst) Drinks for Health and Weight Loss
Best: Fresh Fruit Juice, Diluted
Worst: Packaged Store Bought Fruit Juice, Full-Strength
You may think that drinking a big glass of OJ in the morning is a great start for breakfast. However when you think about fruit from an evolutionary standpoint, drinking an entire glass of fruit juice doesn’t really make sense. Fruit is something we either came across on a random occasion, or something that was only in season once or twice each year. Think about how many oranges are in a glass of orange juice – maybe four or five! You’d never sit and eat that many, and if you did, at least you’d be getting the fiber from the pulp to help move it through your system.
Adding to the conundrum, most store bought juices are pasteurized (heated to remove any bacteria), which causes the natural enzymes to be destroyed – lowering their overall nutritional value. Juicing at home (even just hand-squeezing!), and consuming immediately is best.
If you love your fruit juice, try diluting it with plain or soda water. This is a great trick for cutting out sugar. Each week add a little more water and a little less juice, increasing the dilution. A little juice will go much farther, and you can even add a packet of True Orange for additional calorie-free and sugar-free flavor.
Best: Homemade Vegetable Juice
Worst: Packaged Store Bought Vegetable Juice
Veggie juice comes with similar problems as fruit juice (above), but the issue is sodium rather than sugar. Often, salt is added to improve the flavor, and we certainly don’t need any more salt in our diets.
Stick to homemade vegetable juice, or freshly pressed unpasteurized juice whenever possible. If you don’t have a juicer at home, try adding more fresh vegetables to your daily smoothie instead. Kale and spinach are fantastic without adding much flavor, or for a little sweetness add cooked yams or fresh carrots.
Best: Organic Grass-Fed Milk or Unsweetened Nut Milk
Worst: Skim Milk or Regular / Vanilla Nut Milk
It may be a bit surprising, but milk isn’t the healthy beverage we once thought. When you have the option, choose organic and naturally grass-fed dairy. These cows aren’t exposed to the same antibiotics and hormones that conventionally raised cows are, which means neither are you!
We know that fat has been the enemy for a long time, but consuming small amounts of fat is actually good for you. Because certain vitamins in milk are fat-soluble (meaning they need the natural fat in milk to be absorbed by your body), stripping the fat also strips the vitamins. Using a small amount of regular grass-fed milk is healthier in the long run than using a lot of conventional skim milk.
Use an alternative milk that’s dairy-free? Always choose the unsweetened variety. Even the “plain” or “original” flavors usually contain small amounts of sugar!
Best: Soda water or seltzer
Worst: Drink mixers
If you’re enjoying an alcoholic beverage, opt for low sugar options like soda water instead of sugary drink mixers to cut hard liquor. Add a packet of True Lime to enhance flavor, as things like sour mix, margarita mix, and sodas add tons of sugar.
Even better, skip the liquor and opt for a glass of antioxidant-rich red wine! Just as long as you limit your intake, it shouldn’t hinder your weight loss goals.
Best: Water or Homemade Electrolyte Drink
Worst: Sports Drinks
Sports drinks are guilty of being filled with both negative heavy-hitters: sodium and sugar. These two components are what increase absorption of water (electrolytes), however they often contain much more than you really need.
Plain water is a better thing to pound when exercising, but if you’re set on an electrolyte drink, make your own! Combine ⅛ teaspoon of baking soda with 1 packet of True Wildberry Lemonade, and mix well with 12-16 ounces of water. Less salt, less sugar, more flavor!
Best: Coffee or Green Tea
Worst: Energy Drinks
Choosing black coffee or green tea over syrupy sweet energy drinks is always a good idea. The health benefits of those beverages greatly outweigh the empty calories of energy drinks, and your energy will be sustained for longer.
If you need an added boost for your morning cup of coffee, try some of these ideas! Just be sure you aren’t adding a lot of sugar, milk, or flavorings to your daily cup – it’ll greatly reduce its nutritional value.
Best: True Citrus
True Citrus is a much better alternative to sugary sodas hands-down! You can add a sweet and flavorful kick to your drink, without adding a lot of extra empty calories.