Are You Making This Big Weight Loss Mistake?

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Many people -- perhaps, even you -- are sabotaging their efforts to lose weight and get healthy not by what they're eating, but with what they're drinking.

Water has long been my vice. Unlike many of my friends, I don't crave water -- ever.  I didn't crave it during pregnancy. I don't crave it after a hard workout. I just don't have a natural desire to drink one of the earth's most critical elements. So, I decided to take the #21DayChallenge and am developing a habit of drinking at least 64 ounces of water daily.

Luckily, I don't have an issue with sodas. I know people who have a caffeinated beverage first thing in the morning and continue throughout their day. I've never really been driven to overindulge in any beverage other than a good ole margarita or a Cape Ruby wine when I'm in good company! 🙂

What we drink -- both hot and cold -- can have a big impact on our nutritional intake, for a number of reasons. We tend to not count the calories in beverages, which leads us to consume too many calories overall. Unlike water, most other beverages don't fill us up so it's easy to overindulge. And way too often, they're jam-packed with sugar which spikes insulin levels and makes it very difficult to lose weight.

If you're like me and trying to lose a few pounds this summer, steer clear of these five beverages:

Flavored coffee drinks. If you’re like my hubby Mark, a cup of freshly brewed coffee is a standard part of your morning wake-up routine. But caffeinated coffee could be contributing to weight gain, depending on how you take it. Coffee add-ons like flavored syrups equal sugar bomb. Flavored syrups supply processed sugars and empty calories. Instead of choosing these flavored coffee shop options, you may wish to buy your own flavored coffee to brew at home like we do. Store-bought flavored coffees get their flavor from extracts or spices that have been added to the beans during roasting. You get the benefit of the bold flavor without the added calories from sugar (typically, only small amounts of sugar are added).

Iced teas are also high in sugar. I really enjoy homemade unsweetened peach tea on a warm, sunny day -- especially, if I'm partaking in southern cuisine that includes fried chicken. A 16-ounce bottle of sweetened iced tea contains about 180 calories, so it's not likely to help with weight loss. However, unsweetened iced tea is a calorie-free beverage, making it a diet-friendly way to fight off thirst. Lately, I've even been adding a squeeze or two of Lipton's new Tea & Honey Liquids to my water so that I get my tea fix without the added sugars (they're only 10 calories per 8 fluid ounces).

Soda. We all know that soda isn't good for us, even the diet versions contain chemicals that don't do our systems any good. But, if you must... I think Coca Cola Zero products are the best for taste. Plus, I don't crave another after another! Coke Zero is my favorite although difficult to find at restaurants outside the Southern United States.

Fruit juices appear to be a healthy option but many of them have just as much sugar as soda. Alternatively, a splash of your favorite juice with soda water or fruit-infused ice cubes added to sparkling mineral water can give you the fruit fix you need without the added calories from sugar. And, if push comes to shove, pull out the Crystal Light for that artificial fruit flavor.

Store-bought smoothies -- yep, even from health food stores -- are actually jam-packed with sugar. Anything you see that has fruit juice and low-fat yogurt in the ingredients is likely a secret sugar-bomb. Homemade green smoothies are a healthy alternative. You may have seen photos of my green smoothies on Instagram lately. I make mine with coconut water or nut milk instead of juice. And, last night I made a smoothie mix and made popsicles for the boys to enjoy during our evening walks.

There! You do have other options. Don't let what you drink steal your weight loss goals.

What are your favorite low-sugar beverages? Share away in the comments below.

*Disclaimer: Dr. Kim has been compensated as Blog Ambassador for the ColgateTotal campaign.

Dr. Kim

Dr. Kimberly S. Clay, aka Dr. Kim, is Executive Director and founder of Dallas-based charity, Play Like A Girl!®. On a mission to inspire women and girls across the globe to live a happy, healthy and active lifestyle, Dr. Kim has set out to finally triumph in her own struggle with obesity by creating what she calls her "best me yet" in 2014-15. Sisterbration is the space she has dedicated to documenting the journey and her musings.


  1. Danielle

    13 May, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    This is a great reminder! I personally love water, but as a fitness instructor I know that “drinking calories” is a common mistake and struggle for many. I believe in exercising consistently so that you can “eat what you want” – hoping that we have all learned to want healthy fruits, veggies, good proteins and quality gains. But even when what we want is a little less healthy, like your fried chicken and my desserts, we should choose to truly enjoy and savor those indulgences, giving ourselves space for those extra calorie treats, by not already wasting calories on beverages.

    • Dr. Kim

      Dr. Kim

      14 May, 2014 at 5:51 am

      Danielle, thanks for sharing. You illustrate exactly my message about moderation. This is especially critical when we consider our children’s diets. As parents, my husband Mark and I, always check-in with our boys regarding their consumption of empty calories from beverages. It is understood that water (with a splash of flavor), Crystal Light, unsweetened teas or Coke Zero are their options — especially, when we eat out as these items are the only options available at home. When we preserve calorie intake from beverages we leave space in our meals for the other things we enjoy.

  2. Jenna

    13 May, 2014 at 11:57 am

    While they aren’t as tasty as fruit juices, I like fruit infused water with mint, basil or ginger. I also love fresh juice with no added sugar or sweetners. We once had some really good grapes that we weren’t going to finish. I juiced them and it was great! I added some sparkling water once and it was almost grap soda-ish! LOL

    • Dr. Kim

      Dr. Kim

      13 May, 2014 at 12:35 pm

      Jenna, I love the idea of making my own fresh grape juice! I’ll be trying that. I also like mint-infused water. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Sherrell

    13 May, 2014 at 11:02 am

    I didn’t know that store bought smoothies contained a lot of sugar! Good looking out, Dr. Kim!

    • Dr. Kim

      Dr. Kim

      13 May, 2014 at 12:37 pm

      Sherrell, yes! It’s best to make your own using a blender or bullet at home. My recipe last night was pretty simple: Frozen strawberries and juice from a pineapple. I’ll have to post a pic of the popsicles on Instagram for you to see. They’re those old-fashioned pops we made when we were kids. Watch out for the hidden stuff!

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