With 98 million views and counting, TikTok has gone crazy for simple little recipes that use sugar-free mixes and “skinny syrups” to make plain ol’ water really fun. We’re talking about everything from fancy lemonade and Skittles Punch to water flavored like pink wedding cake, banana splits and unicorn cotton candy. Beyond the wacky names, the drinks are helping people get great results when it comes to weight loss — and nutrition experts love them too. So what are skinny syrups exactly? And do drinks made with skinny syrup really help with weight loss? Read on to learn all about these skinny syrups — and how adding them to water may help transform your health.
What are skinny syrups?
Flavored syrups were popularized by coffee chains like Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts, and sugar-free or “skinny” versions debuted in 2006. The syrups can be made with all natural ingredients; however, many do contain artificial colors, flavors and sweeteners. But what all skinny syrups have in common is that they’re zero sugar and zero carbohydrates — that makes them both keto-friendly and diabetic-friendly.
At first, the syrups were mostly added to lattes and macchiatos, but they eventually found their way into other foods and drinks that benefit from a little extra sweetness and zing — including oatmeal, protein shakes, baked goods and cocktails. Then a couple years ago, Oklahoma grandmother Tonya Spanglo was on a weight loss journey and started adding skinny syrups to water. Soon she was sharing “water recipes” on TikTok. As her #WaterTok videos went viral, her favorite brand — Jordan’s Skinny Syrup — began adding more and more wild flavors. Now you can even find cookie dough, churro, marshmallow and mermaid varieties.
Can skinny syrups help with weight loss?
We often hear that artificial additives are bad for us. Are they? Let’s put it this way: If you’re someone who loves plain water and drinks lots of it, don’t change a thing. As for the rest of us: Water flavored with skinny syrups “can be a game-changer for millions of women who don’t like or simply forget to drink enough plain water,” notes Denver-based nutrition expert Stephanie Coburn, MS, RD. “That’s because cutting sugar and increasing hydration are both powerful tools for weight loss and overall health.” Coburn says that if you sip TikTok’s water for a month or two, “you can see and feel some big changes.”
And she’s got science backing her up. University of Colorado scientists conducted a study during which they asked hundreds of weight-loss program participants to consume either 24 oz. of plain water or 24 oz. of zero-calorie soft drink daily. What happened? After a year, those drinking the artificially flavored and sweetened water had lost three times more weight than the plain water group. In other words, early predecessors of TikTok’s trendy drinks were “superior for weight loss and maintenance,” reported the team led by top obesity researcher James O. Hill, PhD. And while experts were baffled by the result, one thing was clear: The zero-calorie flavored drinks didn’t stimulate appetite. In fact, those who sipped them reported lower appetites.
How water + skinny syrup can boost your health
When it comes to weight loss, water does amazing things, and adding in skinny syrup helps many people reach their ideal hydration levels. Here’s what it may do for your well-being:
• Increase metabolism. Researchers in Germany found that our bodies must warm up any icy liquids consumed — and the process increases calorie burning by 30% for every 8 oz. we drink. Coburn notes that if you sip throughout the day, you get that boost over and over.
• Reduce appetite. Once water is in our system, it slows the rate at which food moves through us, and we feel full longer. Better yet, MRI tests reveal that fluid from just one tall drink is enough to trigger the “stop eating” region of the brain. “It can help you eat 75 to 90 fewer calories at every meal,” shares Virginia Tech’s Brenda Davy, PhD, America’s top water researcher.
• Speeds fat breakdown. Swapping sugary drinks for TikTok water cuts empty calories, which helps steady blood sugar and lower insulin, a hormone that blocks fat burn.
How skinny syrups help women over 50
If you’re over age 50, you’ll appreciate this: While many weight-loss strategies work best for a younger crowd, research demonstrates that increasing water intake is more effective the older we get. How so? Quench author and natural health expert Dana Cohen, MD, explains that aging cells have trouble hanging on to fluids. Drinking more water helps ensure they get enough hydration to function optimally. So the older you are, the more benefits you’ll likely feel. In addition to better hunger control and amped-up fat burning, “we also think better, move better and sleep better,” says Dr. Cohen. (Click through to learn more about the link between water and aging well.)
“I lost 263 pounds—and I love my skinny syrup!”
Tonya Spanglo started the flavored-water craze basically by accident. After years of failed diets, she hit 430 pounds and worried she wouldn’t be able to care for herself or her ailing mom. So Tonya had gastric-sleeve surgery; afterward, she followed her doctor’s guidelines to the letter. “I had to cut out my daily 2 liters of Coke and drink 64 oz. of water,” she recalls. “But I couldn’t stand plain water. It just didn’t sit well in my new stomach.” She discovered Jordan’s Skinny Syrups at a discount store, with flavors like birthday cake that turned water into a treat. She began sharing recipes on TikTok. One after another went viral.
Tonya now has 1.2 million followers and get millions more views for her videos for recipes using skinny syrups, like this one for Pink Wedding Cake water:
More important, Tonya says it has become easy for her to consume 80 oz. of fluids a day. “I drink a lot when my head starts to want food even though my body’s not hungry,” she says. “It really helps me.” Down 263 pounds, “it’s not about the weight. It’s about my health. I’m off all medications and wake up with more energy than I’ve ever had.”
Despite her transformation, Tonya often has folks tell her artificial sweeteners and colors aren’t good for her or anyone. “My doctors and nutritionists have approved them,” she says. “Sugar-free powders and syrups don’t cancel out the water.”
And you’re never too old: Carole lost 177 lbs at 70!
After comfort-eating her way through years of severe joint pain and other health issues, Carole Coussens hit 337 pounds. When a doctor finally took her off medication that slows fat loss, and she turned to Weight Watchers with new hope. And the group soon inspired her to drink up. “I remember a meeting all about the benefits of water,” recalls the Illinois retiree, who had soon doubled her water intake to about 80 oz. a day. “I drink it plain in the morning, but then for a treat at night, I use the zero-calorie flavoring. I even carry it in my purse. When we go out to eat, I’ll turn my water into a ‘margarita.’”
Carole, who sips out of a pretty Vera Bradley cup, adds: “I learned to drink water if I feel hungry because sometimes it takes the hunger away. It makes it so much easier to make healthy choices, and it really did speed up my results!” Carole has maintained a 177-pound loss for three years.
Try these extra-delicious skinny syrup drinks
To optimize fat loss with flavored water, simply use a free app like MyFitnessPal to set nutrition and water goals, then track your intake.
Here are some drink recipes to get you started:
If you’d rather dodge the artificial flavors and make your own skinny syrup at home, click through for skinny syrup recipes.
Interested in more ways to lose weight simply by drinking a specific beverage? Check out these stories from our sister publication First for Women:
This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.
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