What you drink is equally as important as what you eat, especially when trying to achieve natural forever weight loss. There is a lot of conflicting information out there, so we compiled a list of Healthy Nest’s dos and don’ts for liquids to help support your weight-loss journey — and maybe even provide a few “a ha” moments for you.
I know, you’ve heard it a million times, but it can’t be emphasized enough! Water is a crucial component in weight loss. Thirst is often mistaken for hunger, which leads to snacking. Before you reach for the snack, drink a glass of water and reassess if you still feel hungry in about 20 minutes. If you’re still hungry, choose a healthy snack; if not, just keep on sipping! Being hydrated can eliminate those false feelings of hunger all together, so your best bet is to continuously sip on water throughout the day.
Along with making you feel full, water helps break down fat and sugar that are stored in cells. The more water we have in our body, the more “juice” our body has to perform its metabolic process and trigger enzymatic activity within our cells. Our cells hold our fat inside the body, and the more water we drink, the more our fat is transformed into energy, which results in weight loss. The goal is to drink half your body’s weight in ounces every single day.
Want to switch it up from water? Green tea is a great option and better than just hydrating with “flavored water.” It’s chock-full of antioxidants that help your body flush out fat and toxins, especially around the midsection. It’s double the bang for your buck: burning fat while ridding your body of toxins. Also, green tea contains an amino acid called L-theanine. L-theanine triggers the release of dopamine, which acts as a de-stresser. This is helpful for weight loss because the calmer you feel internally, the more robust your fat metabolism and digestion become. Lastly, green tea contains a mild amount of caffeine, which can help stimulate the nervous system to break down fat.
Protein shakes are a great substitute for juices. Remember, every sip counts, so if you’re drinking, you might as well benefit from it. Protein shakes typically contain all of our essential amino acids, so a shake is a great choice for a snack. Plus, they fill you up and keep you nice and energized. Shakes are also a great way to sneak in other nutritious treats like good fats from chia seeds, flax seeds and nut butters, or even some berries. You can play around with what tastes best to you, but shakes are a great vessel for doubling down on your daily nutrient intake.
When paired with exercise, shakes also help build muscle, which means your body is simultaneously breaking down fat. Again, this only happens when paired with exercise, specifically weight-bearing exercise, but it is another reason protein shakes are on our “do” list. Our favorite formula includes protein powder (vegan-based is best for most, check out ours in our store), coconut or almond milk, a handful of berries and a couple shakes of cinnamon, and a couple of tablespoons of hemp, chia or ground flax seed. Delish!
Now, before you freak out, hear me out. As with everything in nutrition, this is not a blanket statement. Our bodies are super individual. Coffee may be fine for some while causing issues for others. We just want to provide you with some information so you can make an informed decision as to whether coffee is helping or hindering you in your weight-loss journey.
The reality is that you should stay away from caffeine if it causes anxiety when you drink it —meaning you get jittery or have a fitful night’s sleep. If that sounds like you, this is what may be happening: Caffeine is a stimulant that specifically stimulates adrenaline production in the body. When adrenaline is released, your blood sugar and blood pressure rises, and the blood that would normally be used for digestion is now diverted elsewhere. Adrenaline also triggers the release of the hormone cortisol, which is a fat-storing hormone. Where does the fat storage occur? It’s often the stubborn fat around your mid-section. If this sounds familiar, try going caffeine free for a week and see if you can feel a difference in your digestion. If this isn’t you, enjoy your cup of coffee, but try not to consume the whole pot.
Again, you may want to cover your eyes and ears, but this is just biochemistry. Alcohol breaks down into sugar. When we ingest too much sugar, it gets converted into fat and is stored in our cells. Alcohol also bears a heavy burden on our liver, making it less efficient for removing toxins from our body. Toxins are one of fat’s favorite hiding places, so the less our liver is able to clear, the more we accumulate on the inside.
“Fruit Juices” and “Smoothies”
I have to put quotes around these because so many of the drinks that are touted as health drinks are filled with sugar. The equation here is simple: The more sugar you are drinking, the less you are burning for weight loss. Don’t drink your calories! Make sure to read labels to see just how much sugar is going into a drink. You really don’t want to be drinking something with more than 1-3 grams of sugar tops if weight loss is your goal.
I hope this will be a handy tool for you to use on your natural forever weight loss journey. If you are interested in learning more about which liquids do or don’t work for your body, please connect with us at Healthy Nest. Everyone’s journey is different and we love finding an individualized solution that works for you.
Weaver, Libby. Accidentally over-weight: the 9 elements that will help you solve your weight-loss puzzle. Carlsbad, CA: Hay House, 2016. Print.
Metabolic Effects of Caffeine in Humans: Lipid Oxidation or Futile Cycling- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/79/1/40.full.pdf+html
Shawn Talbott, The Cortisol Connection, http://cortisolconnection.com/ch6_2.php