In search of zero calorie beverage inspiration!
September 18, 2013 5:49 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to lose weight, again. One thing I perpetually struggle with is the impulse to snack, especially in the afternoon and evening. I'm trying to distract myself from snacking with new and exciting calorie free beverages, and I'm stuck in a rut. I love Diet Coke, but am trying to reduce my intake of chemical sweeteners. Plain water is obvious, and seltzer with citrus is only a little less so. I've experimented with cold brewing green tea, and I like that, but I am looking for more creative ideas. What are your favorite ZERO CALORIE beverages? I am really not interested in anything that involves any form of sugar. Ideally your idea does not involve artificial sweetener, but if it's an enchanting concoction that REQUIRES aspartame or sucralose, I'm down. I am in the U.S., if that matters, and you may assume I can procure just about any ingredient/beverage within reason. I'm interested in product recommendations as well as recipes, and note that I'm fine with a moderate level of fiddliness, as a project recipe that ends in calorie free indulgence will keep me away from the chips and ice cream for MINUTES AT A TIME. :)
posted by little mouth to Food & Drink (62 answers total) 43 users marked this as a favorite
Vitaminwater Zero.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 5:53 PM on September 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I dig Mio - very refreshing. I love sticking fresh mint (crushed/bruised a little bit) in water. How about rooibos tea?
posted by Sassyfras at 5:54 PM on September 18, 2013

Not zero calories, but nuun hydration tablets are awesome, have seven calories and are wonderful for you.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 5:54 PM on September 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Any Celestial Seasonings berry-type teas are great cold. They don't really even need additional sweetener.
posted by xingcat at 5:54 PM on September 18, 2013 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Polar Beverage's Orange Vanilla seltzer is pretty great, as are some* of the seasonals.

*I cannot in good conscience recommend the Butter Rum or the Mint Chocolate.
posted by zamboni at 5:55 PM on September 18, 2013 [5 favorites]

They all have artificial sweeteners, but these are the greatest zero-calorie drinks that you won't find in your local grocery store:

Bawls Guaranexx Sugar Free
Diet Cheerwine
Diet Green River
Faygo Diet Redpop
A&W Diet Cream Soda
Diet Vernors

and if you're lucky, your grocery store sells Sunkist Diet Lemonade.
posted by eschatfische at 5:55 PM on September 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Ever since I was diagnosed with diabetes my go to drink has been Trader Joe's Sparkling Water. I've tried many brands of sparkling water and TJ's is the least offensive in terms of taste and ingredients.
posted by Rob Rockets at 5:56 PM on September 18, 2013

Not sure if this qualifies as exciting, but I started drinking a lot more tea once I got a water boiler for my desk. I bought a Zojirushi, which is great, but I don't expect there is a huge difference between brands.
posted by ryanrs at 5:56 PM on September 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I find that stevia, which is made from a plant, works well for making lemonade and super-dark chocolate. (just get baker's unsweetened chocolate, melt in a double boiler, and mix in the stevia and other goodies you want)
posted by XMLicious at 5:57 PM on September 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Plain or lime seltzer with a few dashes of angostura bitters.
posted by Fig at 6:00 PM on September 18, 2013 [5 favorites]

There are a gazillion teas out there that taste all right without sweetener - berry, cinnamon, licorice, spice, chai, mint - iced or hot.
posted by bunderful at 6:02 PM on September 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

I like just floating some sliced cucumber, lemon, watermelon, strawberries etc in a cold water in a jug. Yummy.
posted by smoke at 6:04 PM on September 18, 2013 [5 favorites]

What about herbal teas? I find hibiscus-based ones satisfying. Celestial Seasonings makes some good ones (Lemon Zinger is my favorite for this) that you can make up in concentrate if you don't want to drink them hot.

I also like Stash Tea's Lemon Ginger as a hot or cold drink.

Stevia is an acquired taste (especially in its pure/leaf form) but it can be a good compliment. I've made up a nice mix of hibiscus/ginger/stevia concentrate blend for myself.

Peppermint tea cold is also wonderful and usually requires no sweetness.

Most of these require you to make it ahead and then bring it with you (I've done this often!), but making hot herbal tea in a microwave isn't a big deal either.

In terms of easier, readily available drinks, I know people (including myself) who are big fans of Lacroix Water (especially the citrus flavors).
posted by darksong at 6:05 PM on September 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

Whoops... After looking online, the bitters have more cals than I was expecting (roughly 5-10). It's still a great very low-cal tasty drink.
posted by Fig at 6:05 PM on September 18, 2013

How about if you brew some iced tea and throw some delicious fruit in it? You can buy a pitcher with an infusing chamber so the fiddly bits don't float everywhere. Have fun with combos: rooibos tea infused with blackberries and raspberries! Jasmine tea with honeydew! Green tea with mint and peaches!
You could even make a spritzer by topping off your fruit tea with seltzer.
Mmm. I'm thirsty now... I might take my own advice.
posted by sleepykitties at 6:07 PM on September 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

High quality green teas, especially Matcha and Gyokuro.
posted by flif at 6:08 PM on September 18, 2013

Hibiscus was mentioned, but instead of teabags, buy the dried flowers and steep them with a cinnamon stick. It's pretty tart as-is (think pomegranate juice) but you could add a little stevia or other sweetener. (I like agave syrup, it does have calories but it's low on the glycemic index.) You can also do it concentrated like a syrup and mix it with some sparkling water. Sodastream is great for that :)

I also dig Mio and the various sparkling fruit waters that are everywhere now. Brands like Cascade Ice, Vitamin Water's Fruit water, and others. Seemingly every grocery store sells their own brand of these, but the contents of the bottles seem to be identical.
posted by cabingirl at 6:13 PM on September 18, 2013

I find sparkling water is a nice substitute for my diet Coke addiction. I bought a SodaStream and fizz my own water, so no cans or bottles to recycle.
posted by cecic at 6:13 PM on September 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

Polar brand seltzer is fantastic, especially the vanilla and orange vanilla flavors; the former tastes like cream soda, while the latter tastes like a Creamsicle.
posted by constellations at 6:16 PM on September 18, 2013

Best answer: I brew ice tea using 8 Good Earth Sweet and Spicy Decaf Tea bags and 4 Decaf Green Tea bags per gallon of water. Needs no sweetener!
posted by molasses at 6:18 PM on September 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

I really like ice cold water with fresh slices of cucumber in it. Sliced strawberries work well, too, and you can experiment with other fruits and herbs. (You could probably freeze the fruit slices first so they last a while; I'm not sure if that would compromise the flavor at all).
posted by Metroid Baby at 6:20 PM on September 18, 2013

I really like VISO-the diet is called WILL with a blue label. It is wonderful! It's an 'energy' drink but never makes me feel jittery. Lots of B vitamins and tastes like a citrus dream. You can order directly from their website.
posted by W.S (disambiguation) at 6:26 PM on September 18, 2013

I gave up soda and drink iced tea instead. 4 decaf tea bags with a full pot of water. 1 can of frozen lemonade concentrate with the 3 1/3 cans of water or whatever it says. Combine over lots of ice. It's half a sweet as lemonade on its own, tastes refreshing, and tea has flavanoids or something good for you. If it must be calorie-free, Crystal Light makes artificially-sweetened lemonade you could use. Instant tea is an abomination; their iced tea is meh. or, use several lemons, a lemon squeezer, and stevia to make the lemonade. Stevia is the only non-caloric sweetener I use these days.

Eating solids is satisfying. Freeze some OJ, lemonade, or limeade, maybe with some fruit added, in small containers for when you \have to have something ice cream-ish.
posted by theora55 at 6:27 PM on September 18, 2013

Seconding Good Earth. It tastes surprisingly sweet due to the warm spices. Really, it tastes like it has sweetener (it doesn't).
posted by ryanrs at 6:31 PM on September 18, 2013

The Propel Zero packets are good; the grape flavor tastes like grape Kool-Aid. Bonus: they don't have artificial color additives so the water stays clear.
posted by Dr. Zira at 6:33 PM on September 18, 2013

Best answer: Our household (2 adults) has gone mad in recent months for La Croix flavored sparkling water (usually lime or orange, but sometimes berry and once in a blue moon - coconut), mixed with ice and diet tonic water. We drink this so much, in fact, that I was considering asking a question about whether too much diet tonic water is a problem. My SO likes to squeeze half a lime into his.

We have talked about a Sodastream whatchathinger and may get one.
posted by Glinn at 6:49 PM on September 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Lemongrass "tea". You should be able to buy it in packets? But better still, get some fresh lemongrass, crush it slightly and cut it up a bit, and pour hot water over it. Probably goes well with a bit of ginger also.

Have a look in an Asian grocer - there should be some interesting teas there too - roasted corn, roasted barley...other ones I can't explain...

FWIW, I find that hot drinks give me a feeling of fullness that cold drinks do not, even if it's exactly the same ingredients other than hot vs cold water. It might be psychological - because it's hot I'm forced to sip and the drink lasts longer - might be worth trying as you head into the colder months!
posted by pianissimo at 6:51 PM on September 18, 2013

i love both metromint and hint water. no sugar at all. they're both fairly pricey, but i find the amount of flavor in both to be perfect. not plain water, but not a tongue overload either.
posted by bruceo at 6:52 PM on September 18, 2013

Nthing Polar; they have seasonal flavors too. Mint mojito and ginger lemon are my favorites of this past summer. Chocolate mint was the best of last winter.
posted by brujita at 6:56 PM on September 18, 2013

I echo the tea suggestions, hot or cold. Celestial Seasonings is great. You can also make infusions from actual herbs and spices which often taste quite different from prepared blends. For example, hot water over mint leaves; lemon verbena; lemongrass (as mentioned above) with or without ginger; cinnamon stick and/or cloves; slices of lemon and orange. Plenty of experimentation!

The nice thing about infusions is that they generally taste fresher, more aromatic, more alive somehow. You get the essential oils coming out too so they definitely have an effect on your mood. (Not enough oil to make it calorific, just flavoursome and aromatic.)
posted by Athanassiel at 7:07 PM on September 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Fiddliest thing I do, food wise, but SO worth it, is make ginger beer concentrate (as foundhere, with a third of the sweetener in that recipe. I use honey, but stevia would work superbly. Mixed with seltzer water it is distinctive and craveable. Added coconut milk the other day, which wouldn't be allowed with your calorie counting, but deserves mention because it was amazing...
posted by theweasel at 7:25 PM on September 18, 2013

Get a few bottles of cocktail bitters. A few shakes in a glass of seltzer makes a nice drink. I've tried orange, peach, cherry, rhubarb, chocolate, and cardamom.
posted by Jasper Fnorde at 7:39 PM on September 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Celestial Seasonings Madagascar Vanilla Red Caffeine Free Rooibos Tea is great and I don't need to add any sweetener.
posted by soelo at 7:49 PM on September 18, 2013

Sparkling water. Have regular water mostly, but the "treat" beverage is sparkling water.

I allow myself one real coke a week on Sundays.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:56 PM on September 18, 2013

Not sure if it's zero calories - don't have a bottle handy - but I like Robinson's Fruit Drink, (Apple & Blackcurrant flavor with no added sugar). Mix with sparkling water for a nice cocktail like beverage.
posted by gemmy at 8:04 PM on September 18, 2013

Crystal Light. Lemonade flavor, with a little real lemon juice added.
posted by corb at 8:04 PM on September 18, 2013

Best answer: I like these Sparking Ice drinks, especially the grapefruit. The lemonade and the ice tea/lemonade are too tart for me. The Walgreens version in grapefruit is good, too.

I bought a bottle of Cinnamon Clove Balsamic vinegar from a local maker. I use it like bitters. It smells great and a teaspoon or so in iced seltzer water is really refreshing. Here are some other recipes for shrub, as vinegar drinks are called.
posted by Nosey Mrs. Rat at 8:15 PM on September 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

genmai-cha (green tea with roasted brown rice), good hot or iced
grapefruit-flavored Perrier
posted by easy, lucky, free at 8:15 PM on September 18, 2013

Gemmy, I've found diet versions of Robinson's in the UK.
posted by brujita at 8:59 PM on September 18, 2013

Iced mint tea was my drink all summer (boiling water over mint leaves in the tea press, then into the fridge).

A little bit of apple cider vinegar in water, bubbly or no.

I think all my other standard drinks have been mentioned... If you have any Eastern European grocery stores near you, they usually have a big variety of different mineral waters.
posted by ruby.aftermath at 8:59 PM on September 18, 2013

I know people (including myself) who are big fans of Lacroix Water (especially the citrus flavors).

I really like their coconut flavor! They're all really good, though, same with Canada Dry's flavored sparkling water.
posted by jason_steakums at 9:07 PM on September 18, 2013

SoBe Lifewater has some 0-cal drinks (you can tell which ones because they all have a big 0 on them), which are pretty good if you like sweet, and they're sweetened with erythritol, mostly, which is a non-artificial sweetener. I like all the flavors I've tried. I like them better than Vitamin Water Zero, for the most part.

I also drink a lot of unsweetened iced tea.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 9:25 PM on September 18, 2013

I drink plain hot water during the day all the time (I don't need the caffeine of constantly drinking coffee). I really like it, and it's easy since there's a hot water dispenser at work.

Plain ginger tea is also really good: put a couple slices of ginger in your mug and cover with boiling water. Mmm.
posted by leahwrenn at 9:27 PM on September 18, 2013

DIY sparkling water: SodaStream fizzy water with a dash of lemon juice.
posted by HMSSM at 10:37 PM on September 18, 2013

Best answer: When I get bored with water, I just make my own fruit infused water. Cut up some fruit (muddle it if it's berries), throw that in a pitcher, fill it with ice, then top off with water. Not sure if it's 100% 0 calories, but it's probably really close and hey, it's made with yummy fruit.

Recipe here
posted by astapasta24 at 11:09 PM on September 18, 2013

Genmaicha (the one with roasted rice) is the only tea I like to drink without sugar or sweetener, FWIW.
posted by sukeban at 11:20 PM on September 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh, hey, I was asking myself this exact question last night, as I was making myself and the kids juice + ice slushies for dessert. My plan for this evening was to blend a strong brewed Good Earth tea, cooled, with lots of ice-- it's so sweet-spicy and rich tasting I think it might be awesome. And given the number of ice cream headaches I got last night, it will definitely slow down my consumption!
posted by instamatic at 3:07 AM on September 19, 2013

We drink lots of sparkling water at our house - LaCroix, Klarbrunn, Mendota Springs, sometimes Trader Joe's. Lime & Black Cherry are usually our favorite flavors. No sweeteners of any kind - just water & natural flavorings.
posted by belladonna at 4:55 AM on September 19, 2013

Coffee. Hot or cold. Decaf or not. Brewed or instant. Milk, cream, flavored creams or black. Artificial sweetener if you want.

I used to brew up some really strong stuff at night, let it cool.. put it in the fridge over night, then add ice and some water and cream the next day. Instant is particularly handy for making iced coffee.
posted by herox at 5:34 AM on September 19, 2013

Forgot to add...

I have also used flavor crystals (like koolaid!) when I'm tired of plain water. Can also be added to sparkling waters, carbonized, tonic, quinine waters etc.
posted by herox at 5:39 AM on September 19, 2013

Best answer: Sometimes on a hot day I put a few drops of rosewater or orange blossom water in my soda water/seltzer. It makes it snazzy and fragrant. You can use it alongside a citrus wedge, cucumber or mint (or combination thereof).
posted by Trivia Newton John at 6:55 AM on September 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Crystal light and mio have changed how many liquid calories I consume drastically.

I've also been tempted to buy a sodastream which has lower calorie options.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 7:42 AM on September 19, 2013

There are some really good sodas sweetened with Stevia, which is a natural sweetener.

Zevia is one. I like their root beer. It's convenient because you can grab and go, no need to mix it.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:08 AM on September 19, 2013

Try the Trader Joe's, Calistoga, Crystal Gyser, or La Croix flavored sparkling waters (in descending order of deliciousness). If you like those, get a Sodastream. You can either buy flavorings designed to mix into sparkling water (even at Wal-Mart, it was next to the Sodastream, $10 for lime, lemon-lime, and raspberry and they have lasted for months, so only a few pennies a liter). Or you can simply add a drop of food-grade essential oils, available at your local "health" store or Whole Foods. I go through several liters a week, even my five-year-old likes "spicy" water with raspberry flavor.

I can also specifically recommend Peychaud's bitters for mixing with sparkling water. The calories in bitters are from the alcohol, as bitters are high proof, there is no appreciable sugar.
posted by wnissen at 9:44 AM on September 19, 2013

I put a few drops of vanilla extract in seltzer. Doesn't change the taste too much, but smells like cake and it's satisfying enough.
posted by WeekendJen at 11:13 AM on September 19, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks for all of these suggestions. I've marked several as best answer...brewing a new batch of cold herbal tea now, and shopping for bitters online!
posted by little mouth at 4:14 PM on September 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Jones soda Zilch. We especially love the vanilla and the black cherry.
posted by Night_owl at 5:15 PM on September 19, 2013

i was a lifetime soda, then diet soda addict. i thought i would never give it up. then on one costco trip i bought a ton of la croix and perrier. plain, lemon, lime, and grapefruit flavored. never missed the diet coke again.
posted by anthropomorphic at 8:40 PM on September 19, 2013

Iced Mate Tea

I make a big batch of it about every two weeks and put in the fridge. Much milder than a coffee but still enough caffeine for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. It has enough flavor to drink without sugar.
posted by wcfields at 12:24 PM on September 20, 2013

We have one of those seltzer water maker (i.e. soda stream) things. To flavor it, we either add half a lemon or lime's juice to a jug, or I'll boil some water with fresh ginger or mint. One soda stream cartridge lasts us months before it needs to be replaced. Cold barley tea, available in asian grocery stores, is also good when you want a drink that's not so sweet. If I'm in a rush, I'll add a teabag or two to a container of water and shake for a minute or so - that's all you really need to do to make iced tea.

Good luck! Expect your need / desire for sugar in general to greatly decrease in a week or two! :-)
posted by xammerboy at 5:53 PM on September 20, 2013 [1 favorite]

I permanently have cold brew green tea in the fridge. As simple as putting green tea with water in a bottle and wait.
posted by cl3m at 1:25 AM on September 21, 2013

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