Coffee, especially the organic variety, is a great source of antioxidants. In moderation (1-2 cups per day), the phytonutrients found in coffee can help your body to regulate fat metabolism, improve its regulation of insulin and glucose, and reduce its tendency towards fat storage. Taken before exercise, coffee can increase your exercise performance and output, as well as increase your focus and mental clarity. Too much coffee, on the other hand, can overstimulate your brain and adrenal glands, revving up your sympathetic nervous system and creating an autonomic imbalance. This imbalance results in an increase in your body’s levels of cortisol – a stress hormone that reduces fat burning and increases fat storage, especially around the abdomen.
Just one average-sized latte can contain as many as 168 calories, so you can see how drinking just a few coffees a day can add significant calories to your diet. In order to minimise the damage, always choose the smallest available option, choose skim milk over full-fat milk, or even better, choose a dairy alternative such as almond or macadamia milk, and always drink your coffee without any sugar or artificial sweeteners. If you typically add more than one teaspoon of sugar to your coffee, you can gradually reduce the amount of sugar you use by half a teaspoon each day. Your tastebuds WILL adjust to it. Also, don’t be tempted to use any artificial sweeteners such as Equal or NutraSweet. The aspartame found in artificial sweeteners messes with your hormones and has been shown to increase cravings for sugar, as well as contribute to an increase in weight gain.
Alternatively, try using a natural sweetener such as stevia or xylitol. Stevia is a plant-based sugar substitute that is 200 times sweeter than sugar. It contains zero calories and won’t spike your blood sugar the way that other sweeteners do. Xylitol is a sugar-free sweetener that looks and tastes just like sugar, minus the harmful effects. It has a low glycemic index (GI) of 7 and contains 40% less calories than sugar.
If you normally drink black tea instead of coffee, and you have it with milk and/or sugar, then the above rules that apply to coffee also apply to tea.
You can also drink unlimited amounts of herbal tea. Green tea is loaded with polyphenols like flavonoids and catechins, which function as powerful antioxidants. They can reduce the formation of free radicals in the body, protecting cells and molecules from damage. These free radicals are known to speed up the ageing process and can lead to all sorts of diseases.
Studies have found that a type of catechin prevalent in green tea, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), can actually help increase resting metabolism and stimulate fat burning. This is why you often find green tea extract in many fat-burning supplements.
White tea contains even more cell-protecting antioxidants than green tea (and less caffeine), but there are fewer studies to support its role in fat burning.
Be sure to steer clear of all soft-drinks/sodas and fruit juices, especially the diet varieties, as they contain too much sugar and synthetic chemicals.
People who drink alcohol in moderation tend to be healthier than those who are teetotallers, although drinking the wrong type of alcohol or using high-calorie mixers won’t exactly help your weight loss efforts. It isn’t just the excess calories that contribute to unwanted weight gain, it’s also the poor food choices that are often made after having a few drinks. In order to still be able to enjoy alcohol, be sure to stick with the following recommendations:
Just be aware that every drink you have is adding extra calories to your diet. Alternatively, you can remove or reduce the carbohydrate component of your dinner in order to enjoy a drink or two without affecting your calorie intake too much.
*Stevia liquid concentrate can be found at most heath-food stores.