Open Source Weight Loss Weeks 7-8: Five Drinks to Avoid

I didn’t post an update last week to this series, and I feel pretty bad for that. Simply put, I got sick and was unable to do much more than go to the doctor and pray I’d feel better soon. Today is Thursday, and I’m only now beginning to feel significantly better after a week and a half of stomach pain.

It turns out, I got dehydrated. Instead of water, I drank a lot of unsweetened iced tea. Unfortunately for me, tea is a terrible hydration beverage as the caffeine does more to dehydrate you than anything else. What started out feeling like a stomach bug turned out to be dehydration. I was starving myself from everything, even water, because I foolishly thought I was simply experiencing a virus. Instead, it was that lack of fluids that made matters worse.

So, everything from my exercise to my diet suffered over the past two weeks. It’s set me behind quite a bit, and that means I’ll have to work that much harder for the next two weeks to catch up to my goals.

This time wasn’t a total loss, though. I studied other foods and beverages that you should avoid when doing an exercise routine. Here are some of my findings:

Week 7-8 Report
Start — 287.9
Middle — 297.4
End — 287.4
Total Weight Lost (Full Program) — 8.7 Pounds

Caffeinated Teas

Caffeine does a lot more than just wake you up in the morning. It increases your heart rate, acts as a dehydrating diuretic, and tricks your body into going into a panic. Your perceived energy isn’t actually energy at all but a quick release of chemicals by your body in response to the introduction of a stimulant. In the end, you become drained even more and your body has improved not one bit because of it.

Even diet teas don’t help with hydration. Just because you wipe out the calories doesn’t mean that drink is going to be particularly helpful with coupled with an exercise plan.

My downfall was unsweetened tea. Because of the caffeine, it did very little to hydrate me after a workout. I’ve been slowly dehydrating over the past month until my body reached a point where it started to fight back. The result: pain that lasts for days. It sucked, and I don’t want to repeat that process again. From now on, I’m sticking to water and other hydrating fluids.

Creamy Coffee Shop Drinks

There’s nothing I love more than a Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino on a hot day in Texas. Unfortunately, this might as well be a milkshake. It’s loaded with sugar, fat, and sodium. These are three things you should be avoiding (or at least enjoying in moderation) during a diet. Drinking your calories is a bad idea, and this is one of the biggest offenders.

Diet Soda

Regular soda is not OK, and pretty much everyone knows that. What many folks don’t know is that diet soda is also a bad beverage choice when dieting and exercising. Not only does this drink not hydrate you, but the jury is still out on the lasting impact aspartame (and other artificial sweeteners) have on the body. You sweat what you drink, and I don’t know many people who find sweating the chemical cocktail that is diet soda very appealing.

You’re also dealing with sodium and caffeine, two problem-causing agents in any exerciser’s diet. Caffeine raises your heart rate, making exercise that much more stressful on the body. Stress does a number of things to counter your diet and exercise, and can lead to overeating as well.

Warm Water

This one might surprise you. Warm water is great if you’re drinking to feel full. It lasts the longest amount of time in your stomach as it doesn’t fire off those reflexes in your stomach muscles the same way as cold water does. Cold water passes through your stomach more quickly, and this means faster absorption and hydration.

That doesn’t mean you should chew ice during your workout either, but it couldn’t hurt to have a nice supply of cool water available to you. Throw an ice cube in your water bottle or use the cold tap rather than the warm. The extra minutes warm water spends in your stomach can mean the difference between proper hydration and that full, uneasy feeling you’ll regret during your workout.

Vitamin-infused Water

Vitamin water is a lot like soda. It contains sweeteners and other fillers that make it taste so good. Unfortunately, the addition of vitamins doesn’t always translate to hydration. Electrolytes are a good thing. They help your body recover from a workout and improves hydration, but these very electrolytes can be countered by sugars and other nonsense present in the beverage.

It doesn’t take much to see what’s really in that fortified sugar water. The second ingredient on Vitamin Water’s nutritional guide is crystalline fructose. That’s the second ingredient after water, meaning it’s the second most abundant in the bottle. What is crystalline fructose? It’s sugar.

If you’re exercising and/or dieting, you should get most of your calories from protein and/or carbs (depending on your diet), but never sugar. Sugar calories are generally not that great for you, especially refined sugars that have been processed to taste better and have no real nutritional value to them beyond making you a little bigger in the mid region.

Question of the Week

My question of the week to you is what do you drink before, during, and after workouts? What is your preferred beverage of choice? If you like water, do you prefer it bottled or out of the tap? Do you have a particular brand that you’d recommend over the rest?

You can answer this question and post some of your own over at As always, OSWL is a community effort that depends on your feedback to grow. It’s intended to help you share and learn from the comments and answers as well as these articles.


Week 0: Will You Join Me?
Week 1: the Rollercoaster
Week 2: the Burn
Week 3: Slow and Steady
Week 4: Always Be Training
Week 5: Hydration is Key
Week 6: Taking Breaks
Week 7-8: Five Drinks to Avoid

14 comments On Open Source Weight Loss Weeks 7-8: Five Drinks to Avoid

    • This “urban myth” came to me by way of my doctor. You’re citing stories that come from studies conducted half a decade ago. While tea may be a healthy drink, it isn’t something you should put in your water bottle during workouts because it does not hydrate you as well as water. It may have plenty of benefits, but we’re talking hydration.

      I drank a lot of iced tea until last week when I went to the emergency room from dehydration. 🙂

      • True, tea is good containe caffiene which is a antidiretic. Which your body doesn’t.get as much water from.and just.goes right through your.kidneys. So water is the best thing to drink, but tea is still better than soda

      • Ryan, Kudos on your open source weight loss. I am losing with you.
        However, be careful citing your doctor vs vetted sources, even 5-10 year old ones. Many doctors have little or no impetus to change their beliefs and do not do so regularly(which is no better than a 15 to 30 year old study in the case of most doctors).

    • By the way, Quora is hardly a reputable source. It’s a question and answer site. You might as well cite Wikipedia.

  • Jens O. Meiert

    Re: what do you drink before, during, and after workouts? Water. It took a while to get there however; I used to pour anything into me.

  • Not sure if caffeine was your problem. Might want to get a second opinion. Caffeine really isn’t that horrible for dehydration, check out this article

    Glad you’re feeling better, though.

    Water is always my first choice for hydration. Pedialyte or a generic homemade version is the best thing to rehydrate you once things get bad.

  • Watch out for cold water when you’re exercising or working outside. I didn’t believe it till last weekend that the temperature of water can be a problem. Was out mowing the yard when it was 95 F and drank both warm and cold water. The warm water wasn’t a problem…but the cold water had me throwing up within 20 minutes. Not only did I lose whatever I had eaten several hours before…but also all of the water I had drank. After emptying the contents of my stomach to the ground…also spent the next 15 minutes getting to the point of being able to stand up. I know it’s not the most desirable thing to read…but not “losing your lunch” and getting not getting dehydrated are something you need to watch out for.

  • Eating watermelon, and drinking coconut water(there are a few brands you can find that are pure coconut water) are the two best ways I’ve found to hydrate, and in my recent experience they also help facilitate greater weight loss. Both the watermelon and coconut water have high amounts of potassium which is essential to keeping hydrated, and avoiding muscle fatigue and cramps. Your body can handle the high doses, you just excrete the excess in your urine, or preferably sweat it out. These two things are also very healthy for kidney function. I hope this helps. It’s definitely better than drinking gatorade, and you do have to drink more than water to stay hydrated.

  • It is not only feeding the body correctly that assists weight reduction, it is also about the mind. I have reduced my weight by 17kg over a 2 year period by observing what did increase my weight and reducing that intake (bread & steak were the biggest ones) and then seeing myself in a healthy body at the ideal weight. It has worked and my weight has not returned.

  • It is not only feeding the body correctly that assists weight reduction, it is also about the mind. I have reduced my weight by 17kg over a 2 year period by observing what did increase my weight and reducing that intake (bread & steak were the biggest ones) and then seeing myself in a healthy body at the ideal weight. It has worked and my weight has not returned.

  • Many sports experts actually say that caffeine is beneficial to performance and not detrimental as is stated in your article. Furthermore, while caffeine is indeed a diuretic, it only acts as such in extremely large doses- significantly more than you would ever have in even the largest cup of tea.

  • I think you’re an idiot for posting this crap. It’s full of nonsensical hypotheses much of which is unsupported by consensus from the nutrition community. There is only one way (non-surgically) to lose weight. Eat less (fewer calories, less fat), exercise more (burn additional calories). Zero calorie drinks such as Propel Zero, Diet soda’s, and 0 calorie Sobe Lifewaters are perfectly fine for hydration, as is unsweetened tea whether it’s caffeinated or not.

    While you spout off the “2nd ingredient” on the labels, WATER is still 99.5% of the total ingredients. I lost 20 lbs in 2 months and took 2″ off my waistline. I did it by cutting out 95% of all refined surgars, switched to eating only whole grains instead of enriched flour products, and amped up my workout schedule to 6 days a week. I drank MIO and other similarly flavored type drinks the entire time. I never got dehydrated and I never felt like I had to crave anything. Next time, back up your claims since you’re posting to a worldwide forum.

  • Tea (and all caffeine drinks) = a natural diuretic. The only thing you should be drinking is water. The more water you drink, the more weight you will lose.

    Stop all sodas NOW – your body doesn’t need the carbonation, sodium, or the artificial sweeteners, they will just cause you to retain water and store fat. Additionally, the inside of soda cans contain BPA which has been proven to increase the physical capacity of your fat cells, thereby allowing you to store more fat per fat cell.

    Carbonation is very hard on your kidneys – which reduces your ability to filter waste and could cause you to store more fat AND even cause kidney stones (and the dehydration you experienced).

    I have done a ton of research on all of this – which is why I highly recommend you only drink filtered water from here on out (except daily 4oz of juice).

    BTW: I’m now down 27 lbs. – 19 more to go!

    And for those of you on here talking about sources, being rude, etc… if you don’t like what you’re reading, go troll somewhere else. This is his blog about Ryan’s experiences, he doesn’t make any claim to be a doctor. We’re supposed to be supporting one another in our weight loss challenges, not knocking others down. Losing weight is hard enough, doing it publicly is very brave.

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