The number one most powerful thing you can do to improve your health or kickstart fat loss is to eliminate calorie-containing beverages: Soda, fruit juice, energy drinks, sweetened iced tea and coffee, alcohol, and sweetened “health drinks” like vitamin water or kombucha.
How important is replacing sugar-sweetened beverages with non-caloric options?
Sugar-sweetened beverages have zero nutritional benefits and they are the greatest provider of calories in the American diet. These drinks don’t just provide empty calories: They have little effect impact on satisfying hunger, so people can consume large quantities without reducing appetite.
Additionally, soda, juice, and other sugary beverages appear to be a primary cause of the high rates of diabetes and non-alcoholic liver disease that are appearing in people of all ages. Consumption is also linked to development of heart disease, osteoporosis and gout.
There’s a reason that cities are attempting to ban these drinks: They are killing people and removing them from your diet is a must.
If you want to transform your health or have body composition goals, it’s time to put your feet to the fire and eliminate liquid sugar. Best choice is to stick with water, coffee, and tea, but if you must, diet soda is a better choice than sugary soda. Here are some strategies for livening up your drink choices while you start to eliminate sugar-containing beverages:
Add flavor to water by squeezing in some lemon or lime juice. Both citrus fruits contain the compound D-limonene, which has been shown to increase liver enzymes to that body is better able to metabolize and eliminate waste products during detoxification.
Adding a shake of sea salt to lemon or lime water in the morning is a great way to give your water a kick and it may support adrenal function for better stress management.
Adding cucumber slices is another delicious way to fancy up your water if you get tired of the taste of plain water.
For coffee and tea, most important is to eliminate added sugar. If you can’t stomach black coffee and like your sugar sweet, consider using stevia—a calorie-free, natural sweetener derived from the stevia bush.
For creamers, it’s worth taking the time to read ingredient labels so that you avoid oil-based creamers (many popular creamers are made with the highly obesogenic soybean oil) and know how many extra calories you are adding to your coffee or tea.
Both regular milk and alternative milks (almond, hemp, coconut, etc.) can take the bite out of black coffee, while providing minimal calories. More calorie (and fat) dense options include adding butter, coconut oil, or cream to your coffee, all of which should be avoided if fat loss is a goal.
If you’re addicted to soda, one option is to try to wean yourself off by choosing seltzer or sparking water. Seltzer options are expanding rapidly: In addition to the ever popular LaCroix, Perrier, and San Pellegrino, most stores offer a cheaper store brand seltzer. Even turning to diet soda is a better option that sugar-sweetened soda. Or try zero-additive sodas that are sweetened with stevia such as Zevia, Dry Zero, or Blue Sky.
When it comes to alcohol, if fat loss or overcoming diabetes is on your radar, your goal should be to drink as little as possible. For other situations, choosing the “least worst” option is a good rule of thumb: Spanish red wines are associated with heart health when drunk in moderation with food. Beer, mixed drinks, and most forms of liquor should be avoided.