What Can I Drink

Remember these seven words: Stick with beverages that contain no calories. For the most part, that means water, coffee, tea, and diet soda. These are your choices because most drinks — other than those already mentioned — are packed with carbohydrates, which are off-limits during the Fat-Burning Time Zone. In addition, it’s way too easy to over-consume liquid calories. And they have little impact on appetite.

So skip the caloric drinks and focus on beverages for hydration. And don’t forget the the other valuable compounds — such as antioxidants — that they provide.

This guideline doesn’t apply to protein shakes. Protein shakes are filling and reduce appetite.

And if you’re in the Reloading Time Zone, you can add milk, kefir, and 100 percent fruit and vegetable juices to your drink list.

As for alcohol, we like it, and in fact, think it’s perfectly fine in moderation. We’ll explain further down.

In short, simply drink as many no-calorie beverages — water, coffee, tea, and diet drinks — as you desire, and allow yourself as many as one to two alcoholic beverages per day. For more details on each, read on.

Approved Beverages
Any type of unsweetened tea
No-calorie beverages
Alcohol, in moderation

As a general rule, try to drink eight to 12 ounces of water for every 2 hours you’re awake. That ensures that you’re well hydrated, especially in the Fat-Burning Time Zone, since low-carbohydrate diets have a natural diuretic effect. This natural diuretic effect isn’t bad; it just means your body isn’t retaining as much water as normal, and that you need to make sure you’re providing it with plenty of incoming H2O. This is especially true if you drink caffeinated beverages — coffee, tea, diet soda — which also act as diuretics.

You muscles are 80 percent water. Even as little as a one percent decrease in body water has been shown to impair exercise performance and adversely affect recovery. And researchers in Germany found that protein synthesis occurs at a higher rate in muscle cells that are well-hydrated. Water is good; drink lots of it.

After years of research, most health experts regard coffee as not only safe, but highly recommended. In fact, a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found no evidence of an association between heart-disease risk and coffee consumption of up to six cups per day. Plus, it’s packed with disease-fighting antioxidants.

In the Fat-Burning Time Zone, use cream to flavor; in the Reloading Zone, use milk. In any Time Zone, you can use products such as NutraSweet, Equal, Splenda or Sweet’N Low to sweeten.

The best choice at Starbucks? A Café Americano, which is nearly carb-free. A 16-ounce grande contains just 3 grams of carbs, an amount not even worth worrying about it.

Tea is widely known for its beneficial health effects. And you can thank its high content of catechins, antioxidants that help fight cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. Tea also helps reduce stress, according to U.K. researchers. Antioxidants in the tea may act on areas of your brain that calm your central nervous system.

Although green tea gets the most press, black and herbal teas provide similar health benefits. To get the most from any product, steep your tea for at least 3 minutes. Just as with coffee, you can flavor with cream (Fat-Burning Time Zone) or milk (Reloading Time Zone) and use artificial sweeteners as desired.

Diet Beverages
Diet sodas and other diet drinks such as Crystal Light make our list for one reason: They have 5 or fewer calories per serving and no physiological effect on your ability to lose fat.

They also don’t have any health benefits. So feel free to drink them, but in addition to the recommended amount of water, and with the knowledge that unsweetened coffee and tea are better choices.

Also, a quick word about artificial sweeteners: The majority of research on aspartame (NutraSweet), sucralose (Splenda), and saccharin (Sweet’N Low), shows them to be safe for human consumption. Yet there are some rodent studies, as well as anecdotal reports in humans, that suggest they may carry negative side effects in high amounts. What’s that mean to you? Don’t consume them in huge amounts!

In moderation, alcohol appears to improve levels of good cholesterol and has a relaxing, stress-reducing effect. Wine and hard liquor don’t contain carbohydrates, and "light" beers only have a couple of grams of carbs per 12-ounce serving.

The downside is that excessive amounts of alcohol prevent your body from burning fat for energy. This effect is exacerbated when combined with carbohydrates, such as those found in regular beer or in mixers.

You can toe the line by sticking with one or two drinks — at most — per day. In fact, you’ll find a glass of wine makes the perfect complement to any meal.

The Booze Rules
1. Avoid mixing alcohol with any type of fruit juice or non-diet soda, which add unnecessary calories and carbohydrates. Combined with alcohol, these can lead to fat storage.
2. Avoid regular beer. It’s packed with carbohydrates. Go with a light beer that contains less than three grams of carbohydrate per serving (12 ounces).

Approved Alcohol

 Type of Alcohol

 One Drink


 4 ounces

 Light Beer

 12 ounces


 1.25 ounces


 1.25 ounces


 1.25 ounces


 1.25 ounces