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20 Best Zero-Calorie Drinks: Are They Healthy for Weight Loss?

If you’re trying to lose weight, you have certainly heard of or tried zero-calorie drinks. But the question is if they really have no calories and do not contain other additives affecting your weight loss plans. Some drinks are calorie-free but contain ingredients that can negatively impact our health in the long run. So, let’s find out which zero-calorie drinks are safe for weight loss.

20 Best Zero-Calorie Drinks: Are They Healthy for Weight Loss?
Highlights
  • Zero-calorie drinks contain little or no calories but may contain other additives.
  • Zero-calorie drinks can help with weight loss, won’t cause blood sugar spikes, help hydration, and control appetite.
  • Consuming zero-calorie drinks in excess can cause type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular issues, metabolic syndrome, and dental damage.
  • There are almost zero-calorie non-alcoholic and energy drinks. However, alcoholic beverages are not calorie-free, but some contain fewer calories.

What Is a Zero-Calorie Drink?

Zero-calorie drinks are beverages that contain little to no calories. These drinks are designed to provide hydration and flavor without contributing to your daily caloric intake.

But everything we consume has calories, even small numbers, so how can some drinks contain no calories at all?

Zero-Calorie Drinks Can Help Weight Loss

Research published in the National Center for Biotechnology Information showed that substituting zero-calorie beverages for sugary drinks can lead to weight loss or weight maintenance by reducing overall calorie intake. Beverages like water and unsweetened tea provide hydration without contributing to calorie surplus.

What Makes These Drinks Zero Calories?

The main source of calories in drinks is the sweetener. Regular drinks are sweetened with different kinds of sugar, which provides energy, i.e., calories.

But zero-calorie drinks contain artificial sweeteners that provide sweetness without adding significant calories. Common sweeteners, like aspartame, sucralose, and stevia, are much sweeter than sugar, so a small amount of them can provide the desired level of sweetness.

So, does it mean that zero-calorie drinks can be good for those aiming to lose weight?

Learn More: The 20 Best Low-Carb Beers: Alcoholic and Non-Alcoholic Options

Dr. Caroline Apovian:

"Zero-calorie drinks like water, unsweetened tea, and black coffee can help with hydration without adding extra calories or sugar."

Do Zero-Calorie Drinks Help You with Weight Loss?

The short answer is yes. Many research studies show that a zero-calorie drink can have positive effects on weight loss for not containing regular sugar. For example,

  • A 2015 study shows that non‐nutritive sweetened beverages can effectively help weight loss and maintenance [1].
  • Another 2015 study suggests that drinking noncaloric beverages instead of caloric beverages can result in average weight losses of 2% to 2.5% [2].
  • A 2014 study indicates that consuming low/no-calorie sweetened beverages can help individuals manage their total energy intake, which results in weight loss [3].
  • Another study conducted in 2022 reports that substituting sugar-sweetened beverages with low- and no-calorie sweetened beverages can improve body weight and reduce cardiometabolic risk factors [4].
  • A 2016 meta-analysis suggests that consuming low-energy sweeteners found in zero-calorie drinks can decrease energy intake and body weight, especially if they replace sugar-sweetened beverages [5].
  • A 2016 systematic review and meta-analysis shows that using artificial sweeteners can result in modest weight loss and improve body mass index (BMI) [6].
  • A 2023 study found that consuming low/no-calorie-sweetened beverages can lead to weight reduction [7].

Another important point we should note is that lifestyle factors, including diets, physical activity, and health status, can also affect weight management.

So, consuming zero-calorie drinks is just one aspect of a general approach to weight loss, and a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle are necessary.

But zero-calorie drinks do not just help with weight loss. They can have many other health benefits as well.

Julie Upton, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist:

"Zero-calorie drinks can be a good choice to stay hydrated and manage calorie intake, especially for those trying to lose weight or control blood sugar levels."

The Benefits of Zero-Calorie Drinks

Consuming zero-calorie drinks can help us in the following ways:

  • Not Affecting Blood Sugar Levels: The non-nutritive sweeteners used in various zero-calorie drinks have little or no effects on blood sugar levels, which can help diabetics or those trying to control blood sugar to avoid the spikes caused by sugary drinks. Research findings support the positive impacts of low/no-calorie sweetened beverages as a substitute for sugar-sweetened beverages over the moderate term in overweight or obese adults who are at risk for or have diabetes [8].
  • Improving Oral Health: Sugar is one of the main causes of tooth decay. Zero-calorie, sugar-free drinks can improve oral health by lowering the risk of cavities and other dental issues. Also, research shows that caries is lower when you consume beverages with less than 10% sugar [9].
  • Hydration: Zero-calorie drinks, especially flavored or infused water, can help you stay hydrated. While water is the first and best choice for hydration, zero-calorie drinks can be a tasty alternative for those who can’t drink water regularly.
  • Decreasing the Risk of Metabolic Diseases: High consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages can increase the risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. Empirical evidence suggests that we should minimize the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages to decrease the obesity-related risk of chronic metabolic diseases [10].
  • Appetite Control and Satiety: Recent research indicates that non-nutritive sweeteners in zero-calorie drinks can satisfy sweet cravings without increasing calories, which is a good tool for controlling appetite.
Summary

Zero-calorie drinks can help weight loss, do not increase blood sugar levels, improve oral health, help hydration, lower metabolic diseases, and control appetite.

However, zero-calorie drinks can cause some disadvantages, especially if consumed regularly for a long time.

The Downsides of Zero-Calorie Drinks

Drinking zero-calorie beverages contains ingredients that can cause the following issues in some individuals:

  • Type 2 Diabetes and Cardiovascular Disease: Artificial sweeteners, including aspartame, saccharin, or sucralose used in zero-calorie drinks can cause the same issues caused by sugar-sweetened beverages, i.e., type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and stroke [11].
  • Disorders in Children, Men, and Women: Artificially sweetened drinks can cause delays in child neurodevelopment, multiple myeloma in men, rheumatoid arthritis in women, incidental end-stage renal disease, hip fractures, and dental erosion [12].
  • Metabolic Syndrome: Consuming diet soda every day can multiply the risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes [13].
  • Impact on Gut Microbiota: Studies indicate that consuming non-caloric artificial sweeteners can cause glucose intolerance by changing the composition and function of the intestinal microbiota [14]. Also, other studies suggest that sucralose, aspartame, and saccharin, which are used to lower the energy content in foods and drinks to boost satiety and weight loss, can disrupt the balance and diversity of gut microbiota [15].
  • Dehydration: Caffeinated zero-calorie drinks, like diet sodas or energy drinks, can have a diuretic effect, causing dehydration if consumed in excess. Some studies also show the negative impacts of soft drink-like beverages on kidneys when consumed to rehydrate after dehydration [16].
  • Dental Health: The sweeteners found in regular soda and low-calorie soda can negatively impact the surface morphology of primary tooth enamel [17]. Also, their inherent acids and sugars can have acidogenic and cariogenic effects, causing dental caries and enamel erosion [18].
Summary

Consuming zero-calorie drinks in excess can cause type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular issues, neurodevelopmental issues in children, multiple myeloma in men, rheumatoid arthritis in women, metabolic syndrome, dehydration, and dental damage.

So, based on these pros and cons, what are the best zero-calorie drinks? Let’s focus on them in three groups: non-alcoholic, alcoholic, and energy drinks.

Learn More: The Best High-Volume Low-Calorie Foods for Weight Loss

The Best Zero-Calorie Non-Alcoholic Drinks

  1. Water: The best and safest zero-calorie drink)
  2. Sparkling Water
  3. Herbal Tea, including peppermint, chamomile, hibiscus, and rooibos tea
  4. Green Tea (Low in calories and rich in antioxidants), Black Tea, and White Tea
  5. Lemon Water and Lime Water
  6. Detox Water (Water with cucumber, mint, and citrus)
  7. Seltzer Water
  8. Coconut Water (unsweetened)
  9. Apple Cider Vinegar Tonic
  10. Black Coffee (No sugar or cream)

Learn about coffee on low-carb diets: Coffee on a Carnivore Diet

The following table compares the average sugar, calories, carbohydrates, and vitamins found in 100 grams of these drinks [19] [20] [21].

Non-Alcoholic Zero-Calorie DrinksCaloriesSugarCarbohydratesVitamins
Tap Water 0 0g 0g Calcium 3mg
Sparkling Water 1 0g 0.28g Vitamin C 0.2mg
Peppermint Tea 0 0g 0g -
Chamomile Tea 0 0g 0g -
Hibiscus Tea 0 0g 0g Iron 0.08mg, Calcium 8mg, Potassium 20mg, Phosphorus 1mg
Rooibos Tea 0 0g 0g -
Green Tea 0 0g 0g Calcium 1mg, Potassium 19mg, Phosphorus 26mg
Black Tea 1 0g 0.3g Iron 0.02mg, Potassium 37mg, Phosphorus 1mg
White Tea 0 0g 0g -
Lemon Water 1 0.24g 0.24g Vitamin C 1.2mg, Calcium 10mg, Potassium 3mg
Lime Water 1 0g 0.04g Vitamin C 10.5mg, Iron 0.01mg, Calcium 1mg, Potassium 12mg
Detox Water 4 0g 1.67g Fiber 1.2g, Calcium 8mg, Vitamin C 2.5mg, Vitamin B-6 0.833 mg, Vitamin K 10µg
Seltzer Water 0 0g 0g -
Coconut Water 18 3.9g 4.2g Protein 0.22g, Vitamin C 9.9mg, Iron 0.03mg, Calcium 7mg, Potassium 165mg, Phosphorus 5mg
Apple Cider Vinegar Tonic 7 1.1g 1.8g Vitamin C 0.9mg
Black Coffee 0 0g 0g -

How about alcoholic drinks? Is there any zero-calorie liquor?

The Best Zero-Calorie Alcoholic Drinks

Alcoholic drinks are not calorie-free because alcohol contributes calories to beverages. However, some alcoholic drinks contain fewer calories. So, you need to minimize your alcohol consumption if you aim to lose weight.

Here are some low-calorie alcoholic beverages:

  1. Vodka Soda
  2. Rum and Diet Coke
  3. Merlot
  4. Gin and Tonic
  5. Light Beer
  6. Dry White or Red Wine
  7. Champagne or Sparkling Wine
  8. Skinny Margarita
  9. Champagne
  10. Chardonnay

Learn More: Low-Carb Wine: The 10 Best Red and White Wines

The following table shows the calories, sugar, caffeine, and alcohol percentage in 100 grams of the above beverages [22] [23] [24].

Low-Calorie Alcoholic DrinkCalorieSugarCaffeineAlcohol Percentage
Vodka Soda 59 0g 0mg 8.5g
Rum and Diet Coke 60 0g 9mg 8.5g
Merlot 83 0.62g 0mg 10.6g
Gin and Tonic 84 6.57g 0mg 8.5g
Light Beer 29 0.09g 0mg 3.1g
Dry White or Red Wine 85 0.62g 0mg 10.6g
Gamay 78 0g 0mg 9.8g
Skinny Margarita 44 6.67g 0mg 9.9g
Champagne 85 1.5g 0mg 12.2g
Chardonnay 84 0.96g 0mg 10.7g

Now, let’s check some of the best zero-calorie energy drinks.

The Best Zero-Calorie Energy Drinks

Zero-calorie energy drinks are designed to boost energy without the calories found in traditional energy drinks that often contain sugars and carbohydrates. Here are some popular zero-calorie energy drinks:

  1. Monster Energy Zero Ultra
  2. Red Bull Sugarfree
  3. Rockstar Sugar-Free
  4. Bang Energy
  5. Reign Total Body Fuel
  6. Celsius Energy Drink
  7. 5-hour Energy
  8. NOS Zero Sugar
  9. Xyience Xenergy
  10. Guru Lite Organic Energy Drink

Learn about drinking milk on low-carb diets: Milk on the Carnivore Diet

Summary

While many products are marketed as zero-calorie drinks, they often contain artificial sweeteners and other additives, so it’s wise to consume them in moderation.

Also, if you have underlying health conditions, it’s better to consult with a healthcare professional or dietitian before adding zero-calorie drinks to your weight loss plan.

Please note that we cannot lose weight just by drinking zero-calorie drinks, and we need a healthy, balanced lifestyle together with regular physical activity to reach our health and fitness goals.

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