If you make a habit of drinking super-sweet or high-fat beverages on an ongoing basis, your waistline is sure to reflect this bad habit. High-calorie beverages like whole milk, juice, soda, sweet tea, and milk shakes can add hundreds of calories to your diet, blocking your chances at successful weight loss.
While diet sodas may seem like an ideal solution, they may do more harm than good. Current science indicates that diet sodas elevate the risk of heart attack and stroke by more than 60%, while other evidence demonstrates surprisingly high obesity rates among those who drink diet sodas.
Fortunately, I’ve found dozens of zero-calorie drinks that are free of artificial sweeteners and taste outstanding. If you’re looking for no-nonsense, natural drinks with zero calories, here are some of my personal favorites.
1. Green, Black, or White Tea
Iced or hot, tea is one of the world’s most popular beverages. Black, white and green teas all derive from one single plant, which yields extremely potent antioxidants. These compounds defend against numerous chronic diseases, including certain forms of cancer and cardiovascular disease. In its natural, unsweetened form, tea contains zero calories. However, it’s important to note that tea–including green white tea–contains caffeine. Watch your tea intake or switch to decaf if you are on a caffeine-restricted diet.
2. Herbal Teas
Herbal teas are made from any plant besides tea leaves. These may include spicy, fruit-flavored, mint, chai, honey-like, and even dessert-like flavors. Many herbal teas offer medicinal benefits associated with their herbal ingredients, but some also have side effects. If you have a medical condition, get the go-ahead from the doctor before using a tea comprised of medicinal herbs. Try serving these drinks hot, iced, or mixed with other teas.
3. Essence Waters
These flavored waters contain only natural, plant-based essences, without any artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners. Check out a variety of zero-calorie essence waters from Hint for a refreshing, guilt-free pick-me-up. My personal favorite flavors are honeydew-hibiscus, pear, cucumber, and blackberry. Watermelon and raspberry-lime are also superb. These can give you the crisp flavor of fruit juice without the sweetness or sugar.
4. Sparkling Water
I avoided sparkling water for several years simply because I didn’t want to look like a snob or spend too much on a bottle of water and bubbles. However, I now enjoy the occasional glass of sparkling water as a delicious and satisfying alternative to “plain” water or to high-calorie beverages. Perrier and Pellegrino, my two favorite brands; both provide essential minerals such as calcium and magnesium. These minerals add taste and health benefits, so drink up!
5. Natural Diet Soda
Many health-conscious consumers are surprised to find out that there are natural diet sodas on the market. “Natural” seems to completely contradict both “diet” and “soda,” but several companies offer a wide selection of naturally flavored sodas sweetened with natural zero-calorie sweeteners. Most of these include xylitol or stevia as primary sweetening ingredients. These provide a sweet flavor without the calories in sugar or the health risks associated with artificial sweeteners. Over time, the switch to natural, zero-calorie drinks can improve both your health and your waistline.