You know you need to stay hydrated, and that water is the optimal calorie-free choice. But there may be times when you need a break from plain H2O. Check out these low-calorie hydrating options that won’t halt your weight loss. By: Carolyn Williams, Ph.D., R.D.
Mix seltzer water with cranberry, or pomegranate juice to create a bubbly, fruit spritzer. To keep calories low, make sure you choose a 100 percent juice variety and try to stick with using just ¼ to ½ cup of juice. Count each ½ cup of juice used in place of a fruit serving in your daily meal plan to keep calories from adding up.
If you want a health boost along with hydration, give green tea a try. Green tea contains compounds called phytochemicals that research has shown to have disease preventing qualities. In fact, green tea has been linked with reducing blood pressure and cholesterol and improving blood flow. Sweeten with a 1 to 2 tablespoons of 100 percent fruit juice or 1 teaspoon honey if desired. Not a fan of green tea? Any tea you brew is a good low-calorie option.
Coffee isn’t off-limits when dieting. It’s the calories from the cream and sugar—not the coffee—that add up and derail your diet. If you’re craving a cup of coffee midday, it’s fine to have as long as you limit the cream and sweetener to around 1 teaspoon each. Or, brew a flavored coffee such as hazelnut or mocha where you get the flavor and aroma of creamy sweetness but no calories. Make sure to opt for decaffeinated if you don’t usually consume caffeine or if you’ve already had a caffeinated beverage or two that day.
A glass of skim milk contains only 90 calories and is packed full of calcium, Vitamin D, and protein, which fills you up and counts toward your daily hydration. If you’re craving a sweet fix, low-fat chocolate milk is also a great option that’s only 140 to 160 calories per cup. Swap a yogurt or cheese serving in your menu plan for a glass of skim or 1% milk or replace a 150 calorie snack with a cup of low-fat chocolate milk.
Bottled fruit teas are popular, but many are full of added sugar and extra calories you don’t need. Make your own fruity blend iced tea to sip on by brewing and then chilling one of the many varieties of tea available. For extra flavor and a touch of sweetness, stir in freshly squeezed lemon, lime or orange juice and slices of the citrus. Or serve over ice cubes made of part juice and part water. If you plan to sip several glasses, make sure you choose a decaffeinated tea variety.
Canned tomato and vegetable juices are great, low-calorie ways to get extra veggies. They also count toward your daily hydration, but they can be high in sodium. If you have a juicer or high-quality blender, try making your own fresh vegetable juice by juicing raw vegetables along with a little fresh fruit for sweetness. You’ll get the natural water and nutrients in the produce all in one glass. Check out Cucumber, Apple, and Mint Cooler to start.