Starting the day with a glass of lemon-infused water has become akin to a religious ritual for many looking to lose weight fast. The bad news? Dietitians in the know say the water won’t magically help you shed pounds. In fact, no beverage in and of itself is a silver bullet for slimming down (especially not diet soda). But there are some brews that, coupled with a healthy lifestyle, can actually give your weight-loss efforts a boost.
Call it nature’s perfect energy drink: Research shows drinking two to three cups of coffee before a workout can spur you to work out longer and harder than you would if you hit the gym caffeine-free—and that means you torch more calories. One study in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness found that exercisers could do almost 20 percent more reps on a leg press machine when they fueled with java. But remember: Always drink it black (or add a little no-calorie stevia extract), since loading up on cream and sugar is the fastest way to undo the benefits of your coffee-fueled extended workout. (Bonus: There are tons of other reasons your body loves coffee.)
Swap out the squeeze of lemon for a handful of ice: Cold drinks prompt your body to expend more energy to maintain its preferred 98.6-degree temperature. This means downing three 24-ounce servings of ice water in a day can help your body burn up to 100 extra calories, says Mitzi Dulan, R.D., nutritionist for the Kansas City Royals and author of The Pinterest Diet. Do it every day and you could lose up to 10 pounds over the course of a year. (Make that water more interesting with these 25 sassy water recipes.)
Not only is green tea gloriously calorie free, it can also help spur fat burn and weight loss. In one study, participants who drank four cups of green tea daily for two months lost six more pounds than those who drank just plain water, according to research published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. Another 2013 analysis from the European Journal of Nutrition found that regular green tea drinkers weigh less, have smaller waists, and reap these green tea health benefits. (Scientists speculate green tea’s combo of catechin antioxidants and caffeine are behind the effect.) Choose fresh, hot brewed tea with nothing added—store-bought bottled brews tend to have fewer antioxidants and can be loaded with excess sugar. Stay away from unregulated green tea supplements, too: They’re a frequent cause of liver damage and may contain unsafe doses of compounds isolated from tea.