Drinking your calories is rarely as satisfying as eating them. However, it could be the downfall in your expedition to lose weight or achieve a healthy lifestyle. Below is a comprehensive list of the best low calorie beverages available to help you make simple swaps to save on as much as 100 + calories per drink. Do you know how many calories are in your go-to coffee or drink of choice? If not, then this article is a must-read! It may shock you to learn about where hidden calories lie and the amount of them present in unsuspecting drinks.

Sneaky quantities of calories, fat and sugar often derail weight loss plans of even the best intentioned people. It’s about time you gain control of the drinks you consume and make smart, informed decisions so that you can live your best and healthiest life without putting your body through unnecessary health risks. You may even find that those energy dips and caffeine crashes you experience disappear!

What’s more, if you’re saving calories from consuming healthier drinks and you’re no on a weight loss plan, you could put them towards your favourite treat! These ingenious swaps are very apt for when you dine out at a restaurant or order a takeaway and you are unsure as to what drinks you can have without having to experience guilt and extreme rushes of sugar,which will have you awake all night.
Best low calorie beverages - glass bottle of water on table

Alcoholic drinks

Many people advocate cutting out alcohol during cutting or diet phases as they are an empty calorie that don’t keep you full like food does. That said, there are many people who enjoy a drink now and then, and would rather choose lower calorie options over banishing them completely. In addition, we all have lives to live, so there may be a night out you want to or need to attend and wish to make the best selections with the least calorific impact.

These are some golden rules that you can follow on a night out to make the most of it with minimal calorific damage:

  • Opt for the low or no alcohol version of drinks, e.g. Heineken Zero
  • Select drinks with lower alcohol by volume (ABV) – an indicator of alcohol content and thus a guide for calorie content
  • Many spirits are generally lower in calories than other alcoholic drinks, e.g. vodka and diet coke
  • Clear drinks, e.g. vodka, gin, champagne and white rum, are typically lower in calories than dark spirits, e.g whiskey
  • Opt for light beer options, such as
    • Tennents Light (66 calories per 330 ml)
    • Gen!us Lager (79 calories per 330 ml)
    • Coors Light (102 calories per 330 ml)
  • Healthier seltzer drinks are now becoming increasingly prevalent, such as White Claw (70 calories per can)
  • Avoid adding mixers to your drink, such as juice, energy drinks and soda
  • If adding mixers, lower calorie options include diet soda, sparkling water
  • White wine generally contains less calories than red wine
  • Cocktails are often high in sugar and calories, swap them for a clear spirit and mixer topped with berries or fruit
    • e.g. gin and flavoured sparkling water or elderflower with berries
    • champagne cocktail with ice and decorated with orange peel

Best low calorie beverages - wine calorie chart

Caffeinated drinks

My current hypothesis is that the harder the name of the drink is to pronounce, the greater the quantity of calories. Surely a mocha choca latte (yaya) is high in calories, but a Caramel Macchiato, Venti, Skim, Extra Shot, Extra-Hot, Extra-Whip must induce calories merely by looking at it! The rule of thumb with drinks is that the below ingredients will lead to an increase in calories, sugar and fat consumption:

  • Milk
  • Foam
  • Syrups
  • Extra shots
  • Cream
  • Sugar
  • Alcohol

In addition, adding extra shots or requesting larger sizes will also contribute to a higher calorie consumption. Hazard a guess as to what the highest amount of calories is in a Starbucks drink. The Java Chip Fraps weighs in at an eye-watering 600 calories. Yes, the equivalent to a large dinner or even a McDonald’s meal!

You can avoid such encounters with the below hacks:

  • Sticking to regular teas and coffees
  • Americanos and many unsweetened iced coffees also have less than 5 calories
  • Drink your tea or coffee black
  • Ditch the milk, foam, syrups, cream, alcohol and sugar, where possible
  • Choose a low-calorie or low-sugar milk (see below milk section)
  • Opt for cinnamon as a healthy flavouring to your coffee
  • Opt for unsweetened cocoa or dark chocolate as a healthier alternative to regular chocolate
  • If skinny versions are available, choose those instead, e.g. skinny latte
  • Swap regular sugar for sweeteners, e.g. Stevia is a natural sweetener

Ease yourself into the process of transitioning to healthier coffees by eliminating and reducing items on a phased basis, e.g. many people who take 3 spoons of sugar gradually move down to 2 spoons, then 1 spoon and sometimes they even completely disengage from adding sugar to their tea or coffee!

The same principles apply to other ingredients; for instance, adding slightly less milk or opting for a milk that’s lower in fat. This approach works for many people as the concept of moving from a sweet, sugary drink to a much blander, black tea or coffee often shocks their taste buds, and ultimately doesn’t withstand the test of time. So, before you know it, you’re back drinking the sugary goodness again. This transitionary approach allows your taste buds to become accustomed to less sweetness, and you ultimately won’t even notice the lack of sugar in your drink.

Skip the risk of drinking bland beverages by opting for flavoured coffees and flavour drops which are jam-packed with flavour and have little to no calories. I also add the syrups and drops to my food too for an added kick of flavour.

As an affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Please note that you, the reader’s interests are my top priority, and I only recommend products that I have either tried and tested or thoroughly reviewed and consider good enough for myself to buy.

Best low calorie beverages - Cup of black coffee americano on coffee table

Carbonated drinks

Diet soda: This option can be somewhat contentious as the debate between artificial sweeteners versus sugar persists. However, if you are someone who drinks the regular version of drinks, then you can save yourself a significant amount of calories. Opting for flavoured water or diet soda instead of regular soda can save you upwards of 100 – 200 + calories per serving. So if you’re someone who likes to guzzle their soda by bucket-load, this will certainly make a difference.

Tip: Opt for diet soda as a mixer for your alcoholic beverage of choice and this will also slash some extra calories.

Flavoured water: Ditch the fizzy drinks for the healthier, natural alternative. We all know that plain water doesn’t exactly make the cut at times, but by opting for flavoured fizzy water, it adds about as much kick to your taste buds as the regular fizzy drinks. You could also opt for adding some fruit or a slice of lemon or lime to your water as well for a bit of extra zest.

You can also add water flavouring drops to water to quench your thirst in a healthier and tastier way. Just ensure it’s a dilute concentrated drink, or squash or cordial (or whatever you call it in your country) with low or no added sugar and low calories. I personally love Mi Wadi or Robinson’s summer fruit flavour drops.

Best low calorie beverages - Glass of water with cherries

Milk

The surge in variations of milk, from dairy milk to non-dairy milk alternatives, is a welcome addition to the supermarket shelves, especially for those who are lactose-intolerant, on vegan diets etc. Below is a nutritional comparison of a range of milk and dairy milk alternatives per 100ml and listed in terms of highest to lowest calories.

Dairy milks:

  • Full-fat milk:
    • Calories: 64 kcal
    • Sugar: 4.7 g
    • Fat: 3.5 g
    • Protein: 3.4 g
  • Low-fat milk:
    • Calories: 47 kcal
    • Sugar: 4.8 g
    • Fat: 1.5 g
    • Protein: 3.5 g
  • Semi-skimmed milk:
    • Calories: 36 kcal
    • Sugar: 4.8 g
    • Fat: 0.3 g
    • Protein: 3.5 g

Non-dairy milks:

  • Rice milk:
    • Calories: 47 kcal
    • Sugar: 3.3 g
    • Fat: 1 g
    • Protein: 0.1 g
  • Oat unsweetened milk:
    • Calories: 40 kcal
    • Sugar: 0 g
    • Fat: 1.5 g
    • Protein: 0.2 g
  • Soya unsweetened milk:
    • Calories: 33 kcal
    • Sugar: 0 g
    • Fat: 1.8 g
    • Protein: 3.3 g
  • Coconut unsweetened milk:
    • Calories: 14 kcal
    • Sugar: 0 g
    • Fat: 1.2 g
    • Protein: 0.1 g
  • Almond unsweetened milk:
    • Calories: 13 kcal
    • Sugar: 0 g
    • Fat: 1.1 g
    • Protein: 0.4 g

Lowest in calories: almond unsweetened milk

Lowest in fat: Semi-skimmed milk

Highest in protein: low-fat or semi-skimmed milk

Best low calorie beverages - Glass of milk on table

Smoothies

Smoothies are often endorsed as a healthy way to get 1 of your 5 a day of fruit and vegetables in while also having a refreshing fun tasty drink at the same time. However, don’t be completely fooled, as these can harbour ingredients that can cause calories to skyrocket. Follow these below tips to lower the calories in your smoothie:

  • Choose a low calorie milk from the above section as opposed to full fat milk
  • Adding protein powder will not only increase the protein content, it will make you feel full for longer
  • Protein powder will also bulk up the smoothie and add flavour too
  • Bulking foods that can be added include spinach, ice and greek yoghurt
  • Vegetables are generally lower in calories than fruit, e.g. broccoli,
  • Swap fruits higher in calories for lower calorie fruits, such as swapping bananas for berries or apples
  • Nuts and seeds should be limited as they are generally calorie dense foods

Tip: Making a smoothie bowl will make it feel like you’re having a meal, and you may be less prone to eat as soon after.

Best low calorie beverages - 3 green, brown and pink smoothies in glasses

Summary

  • Caffeinated drinks can account for a significant amount of hidden calories, sugar and fat
  • Healthier and lower calorie / no alcohol drink options are becoming increasingly prevalent and popular
  • Limiting or restricting mixers added to drinks and choosing light beer options can save on calories
  • Adjusting your choice of milk can significantly reduce calorie, fat and sugar intake
  • Smoothies can be used as smoothie bowls instead of drinks on the go
  • Flavoured water is a healthier alternative to soda

Now that you’re equipped with the skills and know-how to choose low calorie beverages, it’s time to give your food a sanity check too with low calorie food swaps – cut 100+ calories a day. Can you guess what the leading cause of excess fat and calories is in a meal? I can almost guarantee that you’ll be astounded by the calories being added to your plate before food is even added!

Are you shocked by the calories in any of your favourite drinks? Do you think you’ll make swaps to healthier alternatives or have you already made swaps in terms of drinks that you choose? I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments below.

Sources

Alpro.com. 2020. Our Products. [online] Available at: https://www.alpro.com/uk/products/drinks/  [Accessed 28 June 2020].

Eads, L., 2020. 10 Of The World’S Lowest Calorie Beers 2020. [online] Thedrinksbusiness.com. Available at: https://www.thedrinksbusiness.com/2020/04/10-of-the-worlds-lowest-calorie-beers-2020/  [Accessed 28 June 2020].

La Jeunesse, M., 2018. 10 Hacks To Make Your Coffee Healthier. [online] Insider. Available at: https://www.insider.com/hacks-to-make-your-coffee-healthier-2018-5  [Accessed 28 June 2020].

London, J., 2019. Try These Low-Calorie Cocktails For A Guilt-Free Happy Hour. [online] Good Housekeeping. Available at: https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/food-recipes/g27458390/low-calorie-drinks/ [Accessed 28 June 2020].

Sanders, J., 2020. 10 Smoothie Ideas Under 150 Calories. [online] Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom by Jamie Sanders. Available at: https://www.scatteredthoughtsofacraftymom.com/low-calorie-smoothie-recipes_29/ [Accessed 28 June 2020].

Tesco.ie. 2020. [online] Available at: https://www.tesco.ie  [Accessed 27 June 2020].

Categories: Blogs

8 Comments

Partha · 29/06/2020 at 7:51 PM

Hi Sharon,

The calories in beverages is something I’ve always been aware of, but at times I’ve fallen foul of the consequences.

I’m not one who’s ever been overly worried about calories or putting on weight, but I have been through times where I’ve definitely felt a bit softer around the middle, and initially couldn’t work out why.

My go-to bevrage while at work would always be a steamy, frothy coffee, from one of the chains, and I even got into a habit of consuming 4 large mochas or lattes a day (depending on how I felt).

I recall doing this literally everyday for a 3-month period a few years back, and I couldn’t work out at first how I appeared to be putting on a bit of weight, considering all the exercise I do. Turns out, it does make a difference, as you’ve highlighted.

I would also say that lockdown has slightly changed my drinking habits, and I tend to have 2 or 3 beers a few times a week at the moment (I normally really only drink every now-and-then and often go months without). And, you’ve guessed it, I’ve started to notice the difference again.

I think most people don’t even consider the amount of calories they are taking on through liquids and I’m glad you’ve highlighted this. Another timely reminder for myself.

Thanks
Partha

    Sharon · 30/06/2020 at 2:09 PM

    Hi Partha,

    That’s understandable, opting for low calorie options is rather difficult as the ratio of low calorie available is always lower when compared to high calorie drinks.

    That’s interesting to hear, although not surprising considering that could have easily been a 200 + calories a day that you were unknowingly consuming. I hope you enjoyed them at least!

    I agree with you there, I just hope people are becoming more educated with shops displaying calories beside drinks. Hopefully people will make wiser choices and companies will be more transparent with the nutritional value of drinks that they serve.

    Thanks for sharing your personal experience, thoroughly enlightening to read!

    Sharon

Jeff · 30/06/2020 at 1:30 PM

I really learned so much from reading your post on the best low calorie beverages, I am happy to see the unsweetened almond milk I drink is actually low-calorie as well as good for me. You really surprised me with your list of all the options I have to choose from, so there is no excuse for any of us not to be taking advantage of the information in your post

Thank you
Jeff

    Sharon · 30/06/2020 at 2:11 PM

    Hi Jeff,

    That’s great to hear. I’ve never tried the sweetened version of almond milk and I hope not to either in case I get hooked!

    I hope this information was of benefit to you anyway.

    Sharon

Matt · 30/06/2020 at 4:08 PM

Hi Sharon,

Shocking news that Java Chip Fraps got 600 calories…It’s just too much…I know the milk makes latte got more calories than Americano, so I tend to only drink Americano after the truth. A latte has the same calories as a bowl of rice. Every time I think of this, I change my mind.

I suggest people compare the calories of your main dish every night to what drinks you are going to treat yourself, then you can easily get an answer which one to pick. The best way is always drinking water, but it’s impossible haha…

Matt

    Sharon · 01/07/2020 at 3:31 PM

    Hi Matt,

    It is shocking. Yes, that’s definitely the case, between that and a lack of knowledge/awareness, it’s all a formula for a growing epidemic.

    That’s an excellent tip, it wouldn’t take much for a couple of drinks to amount to the calories of a meal!

    Best wishes,
    Sharon

C.N. · 30/06/2020 at 7:55 PM

Thank you so much for this highly informative article, Sharon! I am in the process of trying to eat better, and one my biggest problems is my choice of drinks-though I drink a lot of water and don’t drink alcohol (only once in a blue moon), I still have a problem with drinking sugary drinks and soda. I want to start drinking more smoothies and herbal teas, and you have given me some great ideas on where/how to begin this process. Great read! God bless you!

    Sharon · 01/07/2020 at 3:34 PM

    Hi there,

    Thank you so much for your kindness. I hope the article was of interest and use to you and you found some tips to choose healthier drinks. Hopefully, it’s given you some inspiration and ideas.

    If there’s anything I can be of assistance with, don’t hesitate to reach out!

    Best wishes,
    Sharon

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *