Best Bets for Beverages

On a healthy eating plan, what you drink is just as important as what you eat. Certain beverages, such as sugary fruit juices and sodas, can be real diet busters while others — water, fat-free or 1% milk, and club soda and other sugar-free drinks — can help you reach your weight-loss goals. Before grabbing a drink, get the facts with our brief beverage guide.

We know it may alter your sipping habits, but eliminating fruit juices, sodas, and all other drinks containing added sugars or other “hidden” sweeteners is recommended on all Phases of the South Beach Diet. And during Phase 1, all alcoholic beverages — light beer, cocktails, and wine — are also off-limits. Instead, we encourage you to wet your whistle with low-sodium tomato juice and vegetable juice blends, unsweetened flavored waters, and sugar-free powdered drink mixes. Of course, you can always have plain water, club soda, seltzer, and mineral water, as well as herbal teas. And remember not to go overboard when you choose caffeinated beverages such as coffee, tea, or diet soda. Here’s a quick rundown of South Beach Diet–friendly beverages by Phase.

Phase 1:

  • Almond milk, unsweetened (limit to 2 cups daily as part of total dairy servings)
  • Buttermilk, low-fat (1%) or light (1% or 1.5%); limit to 2 cups daily as part of total dairy servings
  • Caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee and tea (black, green, white, red, oolong, and herbal teas such as peppermint, chamomile, and orange blossom)
  • Club soda
  • Coconut milk beverage, unsweetened plain (boxed not canned and approximately 45 calories per cup; limit to 2 cups daily as part of total dairy servings)
  • Diet soda and drinks, caffeinated and decaffeinated sugar-free
  • Milk, fat-free or 1% (limit to 2 cups daily on Phase 1 and up to 3 cups on Phase 2 as part of total dairy servings)
  • Seltzer
  • Soymilk, unsweetened or low-sugar plain or vanilla (4 grams or less fat per 8-ounce serving). Avoid products that contain high-fructose corn syrup. (Limit to 2 cups daily as part of total dairy servings.
  • Sugar-free powdered drink mixes
  • Tomato juice and vegetable juice blends, low-sodium


Be sure to avoid…

  • Alcohol of any kind, including light beer, cocktails, and wine (until Phase 2)
  • Carrot juice
  • Fruit juice, all types
  • Milk, full-fat and 2%
  • Powdered drink mixes containing sugar
  • Soda and other drinks containing sugar
  • Soymilk with more than 4 grams fat per 8-ounce serving


Phase 2:
Enjoy all of the allowable Phase 1 beverages above, plus:

  • Light beer (one 12-ounce), on occasion
  • Wine, red or white (1 glass for women, 2 for men, 4 ounces each, permitted daily with or after meals)
  • Champagne, cava, and prosecco, extra-brut
  • Certain nonsugary types of alcohol, such as vodka, tequila, Scotch (one 1 1/2-ounce serving)
  • Rice milk beverage (limit to 1/2 cup daily)

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