Drinks that help you lose weight have been sold over the years as quick fixes and easy solutions, alternatives to healthy weight loss. But unfortunately, there’s really no such thing as homemade drinks that burn fat while you’re sleeping.
Lemon and coffee for weight loss was perhaps the most recent trend that tried to take on this idea, with TikTokers suggesting that combining the two would help people see changes overnight. Other similar trends have included ginger and lemon, chia seed water, and green tea for weight loss in recent years, with dietitians and nutritionists warning against these ideas. While the drinks may have some health benefits, instant weight loss overnight isn’t one of them.
Being primarily made of water in most cases, consuming some beverages before you go to sleep can help aid weight loss though – just not in the way you might think. Here, woman&home speaks to three certified experts in nutrition and weight loss to reveal the role drinks play in our diet and the real bedtime drinks that help you lose weight as part of a healthy diet and active lifestyle.
Can drinks help you lose weight overnight?
No, not on their own. To lose weight, you need to be in a calorie deficit. This, a review by Seoul National University (opens in new tab) explains, is when you consume fewer calories than you burn every day. Drinking certain beverages as a snack may replace more calorie-dense snacks and prevent you getting hungry during the night, which could help you get into the deficit, but they don’t actively work to burn calories and so are not a weight loss solution on their own.
Drinks that market themselves as a way to lose weight without dieting are most likely either laxatives or appetite suppressants, both of which can have a negative (and unpleasant) effect on our bodies.
However, there is evidence that drinking certain beverages before bed can help support digestion, help you stay hydrated, and help you sleep, all of which is beneficial if you’re looking to lose weight in a healthy and sustainable way. “Some drinks may help with supporting digestion, particularly in those who suffer with irritable bowel syndrome-related bloating,” says nutritionist Jenna Hope (opens in new tab). “Additionally, they can help with inflammation and soothing the contractions in the gut which are commonly associated with increased pain and discomfort in IBS patients.”
She continues, “Consuming fluids in the evening is unlikely to support weight loss as that’s hugely dependent on a number of factors, and the energy we consume throughout the day will have a greater impact on weight management than consuming fluids at night. Herbal teas and water throughout the day can help to support your hydration though, which in turn can help with misinterpreting thirst signals for hunger. As a result, staying hydrated throughout the day can help with weight management.”
Many beverages can also help you sleep better and this can certainly impact how easily you lose weight. “There’s nothing magic about milk or chamomile tea when it comes to weight loss,” explains Kendra Haire (opens in new tab), RDN, LD, a registered dietitian nutritionist and Noom Coach. “But beverages may lead to relaxation and can be part of an effective wind-down routine in the evening. Many studies, including one by International Hellenic University (opens in new tab), have shown a connection between the quality of sleep and weight loss. Factors such as the hormones released while sleeping [are important], as well as eating patterns like more snacking and eating to compensate for exhaustion, impact weight, and weight loss.”
With this in mind, we asked Hope, Haire, and fellow dietitian Suzanne Fisher (opens in new tab) to recommend the beverages suited for sleep and the drinks that help you lose weight.
Bedtime drinks that help you lose weight
Everyone has heard the term ‘sleep like a baby’. Well, some schools of thought suggest that newborns sleep so deeply because of drinking warm milk before they go to bed. For adults, the benefits also include sleep – but also an increased feeling of fullness, so you’re less likely to wake up for a midnight snack.
“Consuming milk may have some benefits, primarily due to its protein sources, why and casein,” explains Fisher, who is also the owner and founder of Women’s Cycling Nutrition (opens in new tab). “Whey protein has been shown to increase satiety which may reduce cravings and, in turn, promote weight loss. Casein is slowly absorbed and can keep you fuller longer. Consuming a casein-rich snack like milk, research by the University of Alabama (opens in new tab) also shows, has some benefits to metabolism and body composition in obese women.”
As milk is also a great source of nutrients, it’s a winner for making sure you get enough sleep. “Milk is a great source of a wide range of nutrients, such as calcium, B-vitamins, iodine, and more,” says Hope. “In the evenings, it can help to support sleep
due to the presence of amino acid tryptophan, which is required for the production of sleep hormone melatonin.”
It’s also high in other essential vitamins that help with sleep, adds Haire. “Milk is a good source of vitamin D, which plays a role in sleep regulation, as well as the natural production of melatonin in the body.”
Dairy milk and even some of the best milk alternatives aren’t a top pick by nutritionists for those looking to wake up with a digestive system ready to go though, Hope adds, with better options being kefir or yogurt.
2. Herbal tea
Being made of water and a simple herbal blend, non-caffeinated herbal tea can work wonders for helping you stay hydrated and get your mind in the mood for sleep. Chamomile tea is especially famous for this, with a study from Islamic Azad University (opens in new tab) showing that chamomile has “sedative properties” that can aid sleep quality. However, Haire explains, “There’s nothing special about chamomile tea [when it comes to weight loss], it may lead to relaxation and it can be part of an effective wind-down routine in the evening.”
It may not sound as impressive as some of the big claims around herbal tea for weight loss, but sleep can really have an impact on how well we lose weight in the long term, explains Fisher. “If weight loss goals remain elusive despite implements positive diet and exercise habits, it may be time to look at sleep as the possible culprit,” she says. I.e. if you’re dieting but not losing weight, sleep could be to blame.
“Individuals who sleep less than six to seven hours per night are more prone to a higher BMI and waist circumference,” she explains, citing research by Syracuse University (opens in new tab). This is partially because a “lack of sleep can increase ghrelin, a hormone responsible for hunger signals.
Plus, Fisher adds, “Sleep deprivation can increase the risk of stress and overall functioning, making it more challenging to implement healthier choices concerning diet and other lifestyle factors.”
Other types of herbal tea can also help our digestive systems function normally, says Hope. “Peppermint tea is the most well-known for its role in helping to manage discomfort in the gut. Additionally, some people find fennel tea can help with supporting regular bowel movements. However, we do require further research to support this.”
3. Soy protein shake
You may think the best protein powders are just for weightlifters in the gym, but actually soy in milk or protein powder form is brimming with the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan can also help to decrease cortisol levels which helps fight fat, limited research from University Hospital Utrecht (opens in new tab) shows.
What we definitely do know about a protein shake is that it’s a lower-calorie snack that can help us feel fuller in the evening, without the heaviness of food. “Protein shakes are simple to prepare and are an effective way to get closer to the recommended daily amount of protein, fiber, fruit, and vegetables,” says Fisher. “The most significant benefit is that protein promotes satiety and fullness, which may benefit the weight maintenance phase.”
There are certainly plenty of benefits of protein powder if you’re looking to lose weight or build muscle, says Hope. “A casein-based protein shake in the evening has been shown to aid muscle synthesis throughout the night. Additionally, as casein is released more slowly, it may help to keep you fuller throughout the evening and into the night. It may not necessarily aid digestion, however.”
As noted by nutritionist Jenna Hope, kefir is a winner if your aim is to wake up in the morning and have good digestive movements. Kefir is a probiotic-rich drink made from fermented milk. It works on your gut to increase healthy bacteria levels which aid digestion and absorption of vitamins and minerals.
“Kefir and yogurt are gut-friendly options,” Hope says. “These products contain live cultures which can help to cultivate a healthier gut, and evidence has associated a healthier gut microbiome with improved dietary choices and better weight management.”
5. Prune juice
Prunes might not be everyone’s favorite fruit but they’re one of the best to give your digestive system a boost. These wrinkled fruits offer an impressive 7.1g of dietary fiber per 100g and they’re high in potassium, which research from University of Porto (opens in new tab) shows is important for a healthy digestive system.
Much like protein, fiber is also incredibly satiating, making prune juice the perfect drink before bed for those who find themselves feeling hungry in the middle of the night and likely to otherwise snack on foods high in sugar and saturated fat.
Where actual weight loss is concerned, there is also some preliminary research from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (opens in new tab) on prunes to suggest their high sorbitol content – a type of carbohydrate – could reduce the absorption of glucose during digestion. However, these early studies were conducted on animals rather than humans so can’t be taken at face value just yet.
If you want to try a glass of prune juice before you to sleep, opt for organic juice unconcentrated or make your own, as hen we pulverize a fruit and turn it into juice, the final product can look a little different nutritionally speaking.