One of the most difficult parts of losing weight is cutting out all of those little, incidental sources of calories that add up no matter how you slice it.
One of the biggest offenders is just plain old soda. A can of soda is around 100-200 calories, which is mostly due to all the sugar in the drink. A mocha frappe seasonal special is just as bad. Even the low-sugar options are often still high in calories for other reasons, or they just plain don't taste good.
What can you drink to satisfy your thirst without loading up on a ton of calories? Here are a dozen options.
1: Ice Water
What can be better than a tall glass of water?
The truth is, water can actually be pretty delicious in the right circumstances. A lot depends on the kind of water you have. If you're pulling water from a local well full of minerals and sulfur, it might not be very good at all. If you're stuck buying those 50-cent bottles of crinkly plastic and water that tastes like dust, that's no good either. On the other hand, if you're getting some high-quality filtered water, it can be quite tasty on its own.
Our top tip is to chill it as close to freezing as you can get without it turning to actual ice. The colder the water is, the more refreshing it will be. Trust us on this one.
And hey, pretty much everything else on this list will have at least 5-10 calories, but plain old water is pure zero. What's not to love?
2: Skinny Lemonade
Normally, lemonade is packed full of sugar. A lot of people aren't too fond of lemon as a flavor when it's sour, and it needs a lot of sugar to counteract that sourness. A lot of the time, if you don't pile on the sugar, you end up with something that tastes more bitter than citrus.
That's why we made this skinny lemonade. It's a lemonade mix, the same as you might find at the store. The difference is, it's way, way healthier. Our skinny lemonade uses stevia instead of sugar (which is low-calorie and sweet, without having that chemical taste so many other alternatives to sugar have), and it has a few other additives to help give you some energy, passively burn calories, and sate cravings.
There are plenty of other sugar-free lemonades on the market, so what makes ours special? Two things. The first is the taste. You'll have to try it out yourself to see, but it has a nice, strong sweet lemon flavor that is both crisp and refreshing, without the cloying sweetness of more traditional lemonades. The second is those aforementioned additions, things like Garcinia Cambogia, to help keep you going throughout the day. Give it a try; we bet you'll love it.
3: Lemon Water
Alright, so some of you out there aren't big fans of sweet lemonades or the "denser" feeling of a sweetened lemonade drink. That's fine! You can also just make lemon water.
Basically, lemon water is just water and lemon juice. It's a little tangy, but the amount of lemon you add to the water is minimal enough that it's not going to be truly sour. Instead, all of the flavors in a lemon are given room to spread out, and you can really taste the nuance to the lemon flavor in every sip.
It's a good way to make mediocre water taste better, and make good water taste great. The trick is, you have to use good lemons. It's entirely possible to find lemons that are just plain bitter, and that's no good.
Lemon water will take a bit more effort to make than lemonade, but it's well worth it. It can also help suppress hunger pangs and cravings for candy if those tend to get in your way throughout the day. Plus, we wrote a full post about it over here. Check it out!
Coffee is bad, but coffee is also great. Coffee is a land of contrasts. In fact, there's a huge world of depth to coffee that you may never have even thought possible if your only experience is the local café or Starbucks outlet.
The trick here is that you need coffee that is just that: coffee. No more, no less. Every bit of milk, creamer, sugar, sweetener, or flavoring syrup you add to it adds calories and makes the whole thing a lot less healthy. Any drink that's topped with whipped cream and chocolate is decidedly NOT low-calorie.
Instead, try out AeroPress coffee or French drip coffee. Get fresh, whole beans and grind them yourself before brewing a cup. Not only does it smell great, but the aromatics in the beans won't dissipate and degrade the way they do in pre-ground coffee. It's also usually a great idea to try a lighter roast; dark roasts burn away flavor and leave a bitterness many people don't like. It's easier for a coffee producer to make consistent coffee when it's consistently bad, after all.
5: Iced Coffee
Wait, didn't we just list coffee?
Well, yes, but there are two reasons why we're listing it again.
The first is that iced coffee is a very different kind of beverage. It's not as simple as hot versus cold. Iced coffee has a very different flavor profile due to the way it has been brewed and cooled, and that's not even getting into the differences if you're making cold brew coffee to use for your iced coffee.
The second is that we have an iced coffee mix you can use as well. It's our skinny iced coffee, and you can find it here.
Much like our skinny lemonade, our skinny iced coffee is a healthy beverage mix. It's made out of brewed coffee that has been dehydrated into crystals, sort of like an instant mix coffee. Plus, we've added the same sort of additional ingredients, like L-Carnitine and Garcinia Cambogia, to give you energy and keep you going beyond what plain old caffeine will do for you.
Sometimes you just want a nice cold cup of coffee, and when the local coffee house sells syrup-and-sugar cups with a hint of coffee, it's hard to get what you want. So, why not try our version and see if you like what you get?
Tea, like coffee, is basically just water infused with a flavoring. In the case of tea, it's the Camellia Sinensis plant, or True Tea, which has been picked and dried. White tea, green tea, black tea; they're all the same plant, with different levels of oxidation. You can also get oolong or matcha, or try out something like pu-erh, as well.
Tea is great because there are, to put it simply, a trillion different blends. When you consider all of the different fruits and herbs and spices you can add to tea, it suddenly becomes a rich world of flavor. Want peppermint to drink? Want something that tastes like spiced chocolate? Want a blend that tastes like a pina colada? All of these can be done with tea for zero calories.
Really, that's the best part: tea, unless you're adding something like milk to it to make a London fog, is zero calories. It's just flavor-infused water. But, along with that flavor, you get all kinds of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. It's way better than plain old water, that's for sure.
7: Sparkling Water
Sparkling water is one we hesitate to recommend simply because there's so much variation on the market. There are dozens of different brands making variations on sparkling water. Something like Bubly, made by the Coke company, or La Croix, or a smaller indie brand with more flavor and less ethical dilemmas attached, it's all available.
The difference is these are just products you buy and drink. And, sure, things like our skinny lemonade are products you buy, but you still make them, and that's a whole experience that adds to the beverage. Sparkling water is just a can or bottle you get at the store, keep at your desk or in your fridge until you want it, and crack it open.
Sparkling water is also often pretty bitter, and some people don't like that. The flavor can also be kind of faint. Some people taste it more strongly than others, though, and if it's your thing, by all means. We're not going to stop you. Sparkling water also gives you some carbonation, which is a sensation and experience you would otherwise not get in a low-calorie drink, so maybe it's a good soda alternative for many of you.
8: Cucumber Melon Water
Above, we mentioned lemon water as a simple beverage you make out of lemon juice and water. Well, that's not the only way you can infuse flavor into water. And no, we're not talking about those water "flavor enhancers" that are basically just sugar, citric acid, and some additives. We're talking about fruits and veggies.
Cucumber, melon, lime, and mint all go very well together. Cucumber and honeydew melon together are one of the most common options, and they're a nice, sweet beverage. Add in a bit of mint to make it crisper, or add in lime to give it a bit more of a tang. Or, go ahead and add all four. Maybe you'll find a new favorite!
One thing to be careful of is that you need to make this water fresh every couple of days. If you let the water sit for too long, the fruit flavors will start to go off, and then you're going to taste something nasty.
9: Berry-Infused Water
Another option for infused water is berries. Strawberries work great, but you can also use raspberries, blueberries, and any other kind of berry you want. Crush them up a little, so their juices start to flow, soak them in water overnight or for a full day, and then strain the fruit out. You'll have some delicious berry-flavored water that is low-calorie and tasty enough to quench your thirst.
10: Herbal Tea
Herbal tea is worth mentioning specifically because it's not quite the same as regular tea. Regular tea all has caffeine in it, for one thing, while herbal teas generally do not. Herbals also can have a variety of different health benefits, depending on what's in them.
Of course, pretty much any herbal blend can also be found as a green or black blend too, so there's a lot of overlap. Tea, in general, is just one of the best, most flexible, and tastiest zero-calorie drinks out there.
11: Almond Milk
Almond milk isn't exactly zero-calorie, but it IS low-calorie. A single glass is generally somewhere around 30 calories, as opposed to 150+ for most other beverages. The trick is, you want to make sure you're getting the unsweetened stuff. Sweetening almond milk adds more calories to it.
Other non-dairy milks are also good options. For example, cashew milk is tasty and creamy, rice milk is very healthy, and there's always the classic soy milk. There's plenty of room out there to explore.
Kombucha, for those of you who don't know, is another kind of tea. The difference is this tea has some sugar added to it and is then fermented. The fermentation gives it an interesting and very unique flavor and an almost bubbly texture that isn't really carbonated, but close. It's very much an acquired taste, but if you like it, you like it.
Kombucha is tasty, but since it has sugar in it to fuel the fermentation process, it's also not zero calories. It, like almond milk, is about 30 calories for a glass or so.
So, out of everything here, what would we recommend? Coffee, tea, and lemonade are all the easiest. Ice water is delicious if you have access to good water, too.
Let's leave it to you, though; what's your favorite low-calorie beverage? Do you have one that's not on the list? Which one is it? Be sure to let us know in the comments section below! We'd love to hear what you think!