This article has been Fact-Checked by Kendall Kennedy MS, RD, RYT
There are many so-called “weight loss drinks” that don’t actually help. What about cranberry juice, is it good for weight loss?
Cranberries are the berries of an evergreen shrub that’s both cultivated and found in the wild. These berries are used for many purposes. You can consume them in their whole form, as a sauce and as cranberry juice.
Many people consume cranberries for their nutrients and antioxidants. Do these things matter enough to make cranberry juice good for your weight loss diet?
In general, you want to avoid liquid calories when you’re trying to lose weight. This also applies to cranberry juice.
How is cranberry juice made?
The way cranberry juice is made is pretty simple. The process starts with the whole fruit, the cranberry.
You either blend or boil the cranberries together with some water. After that, you strain out what’s left of the cranberries. Finally, most people and cranberry juice brands add sugar, artificial sweeteners, and other sweeteners like honey.
These different methods make it so the nutrition in each of these cranberry juices is different. This in turn makes it so they have different effects on weight loss.
In this article the nutrition info of unsweetened cranberry will be used (1). If you buy, or prepare cranberry juice at home you want to avoid the ones with a lot of added sugar and other sweeteners.
Micronutrients in cranberry juice
The first thing to look at is the amount of micronutrients in cranberry juice.
Micronutrients are a group of nutrients your body absolutely needs to survive and thrive. Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals. These are involved in basically every aspect of your health, including weight loss.
100 grams of cranberry juice provides you with approximately (1):
- Vitamin C: 15% of the DV (Daily Value)
- Vitamin E: 6% of the DV
- Vitamin K: 6% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 3% of the DV
- Copper: 3% of the DV
And some other micronutrients in smaller amounts. These numbers are not that impressive per 100 grams but the thing is that 100 grams of a fluid are easily consumed. One glass of cranberry juice would already be 200 grams.
Cranberry juice can help you consume decent amounts of certain vitamins and minerals. On the other hand, there are many foods that can provide you with a lot more vitamins and minerals.
Cranberry juice also contains antioxidants, substances that can help your body deal with oxidative stress. In particular, cranberry juice contains substances called polyphenols which can benefit your health (2). It’s not clear if and if they do, to what extent, these substances can help you lose weight.
Will cranberry juice help you lose weight?
Let’s take a closer look at the macronutrients in cranberry juice.
46 calories per 100 grams. 43.6 of these calories come from the carbohydrates (12.2 g per 100 grams of which 0.1 g fiber).
First of all, cranberry juice is not suited for low carb diets like for example the keto diet. Secondly, if this was solid food, 46 calories per 100 grams would not be that much. The problem is that cranberry juice is a liquid.
Solid food will leave you feeling full a lot longer. Partly because liquid is easier to process, partly because solid whole foods often contain more fiber. Try eating 100 grams of potatoes vs drinking half a glass of cranberry juice or any other liquid.
This makes the calories in cranberry juice not very filling. The extra micronutrients are nice but they are not enough to make drinking all those calories from sugar a good thing for your weight loss and health.
Often manufacturers also add extra sugar to fruit juices. Even without the added sugar the amount of calories in cranberry juice is not great for weight loss.
Eat and drink these things instead
While it’s probably better to drink cranberry juice over other soft drinks, you should stay away from it if you’re looking to lose some weight. It’s better to consume these calories in solid food that will actually satisfy your hunger and provide you with more nutrients.
Which is better: cranberries or cranberry juice?
100 grams of raw cranberries contains the same amount of calories, 46 per 100 grams (3) but they also contain a lot more fiber (4.6 grams per 100 grams) and more micronutrients.
Fiber has multiple benefits. First of all, it feeds your microbiome, the microbes that live in your intestines. The health of your microbiome influences your body’s health and weight. Feeding it well is usually not a bad idea.
Fiber also helps you feel less hungry without adding a lot of calories to your diet. Hunger and cravings can be a big pitfall for people trying to lose weight, so avoiding this is a big plus.
If you have to choose between the two whole cranberries would be better for weight loss.
Stay away from liquid calories
If you’re looking to lose weight one of the first priorities should be to stop drinking calorie-rich drinks. The number of calories per 100 grams in them might not be that high compared to certain whole foods but they are a lot worse in the bigger picture.
Fruit juices should be avoided too. It’s a common beginner weight loss mistake to think that juices are healthy just because they have the word fruit in them. By juicing fruit all you are left with is water with sugar and vitamins.
Often you don’t have to look far to find food that has the same amount of vitamins, minerals, fewer calories, and more fiber. You can still lose weight while drinking liquid calories. However, it will be harder to stick to a plan that puts you in a calorie deficit because of all the hunger you will experience.