How much cranberry juice should you drink a day for weight loss?


Cranberry juice has long been touted as a healthy beverage choice. Some people drink it for its potential health benefits, including antioxidants and vitamins. Others enjoy its tart, refreshing flavor. But can cranberry juice also help with weight loss?

Cranberry juice contains few calories yet is rich in nutrients. This makes it a smart choice if you’re watching your calorie intake. However, on its own, cranberry juice is unlikely to lead to significant weight loss. To lose weight, you need to follow an overall healthy eating pattern and get plenty of physical activity.

Still, cranberry juice can be a tasty part of an effective weight loss diet. This article reviews how cranberry juice may impact weight, as well as how much you should drink per day if you’re aiming to shed pounds.

Calorie and nutrient content of cranberry juice

First, let’s look at the calorie and nutrient content of cranberry juice.

An 8-ounce (240-mL) serving of unsweetened cranberry juice provides (1):

Calories 116
Protein 0.5 grams
Carbs 31 grams
Sugar 30 grams
Fiber 0.5 grams
Fat 0.1 grams

As you can see, unsweetened cranberry juice is low in calories and fat yet delivers a dose of carbs and natural sugar. It also provides small amounts of fiber and protein.

Keep in mind that many commercially available cranberry juice products contain added sugar. This significantly increases the calorie and sugar content.

For example, an 8-ounce (240-mL) serving of sweetened cranberry juice cocktail packs 137 calories and 33 grams of sugar (2).

Beneficial nutrients

Cranberry juice is loaded with beneficial plant compounds and antioxidants, including (3):

– Anthocyanins. These give cranberries their red color and provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.

– Proanthocyanidins (PACs). These help prevent unwanted bacteria from adhering to surfaces like your teeth.

– Vitamin C. This potent antioxidant supports immune health.

– Vitamin E. An antioxidant that protects your cells from damage.

– Vitamin K1. Best known for its role in blood clotting, vitamin K also supports bone and heart health.

– Potassium. This mineral is important for blood pressure, fluid balance, and muscle and nerve function.

Given its stellar nutrient profile, you can see why cranberry juice is widely considered a healthy beverage choice.

Can cranberry juice help you lose weight?

There’s limited research on cranberry juice and weight loss specifically. However, some evidence suggests it may provide modest benefits:

Low in calories

With only 116 calories per 8-ounce (240-mL) serving, unsweetened cranberry juice is low in calories. This makes it a smart choice if you’re monitoring your calorie intake to shed pounds.

By swapping out higher calorie beverages like juice, soda, or sweetened coffee and tea, you can cut back on calories effortlessly.

May increase fullness

Some research indicates that beverages high in water and fiber like cranberry juice can enhance feelings of fullness (4).

This may naturally cause you to eat less throughout the day, potentially aiding weight loss. One study in overweight women found that drinking 17 ounces (500 mL) of cranberry juice daily reduced food intake compared to a sugar solution (5).

May reduce inflammation

Chronic, low-grade inflammation is linked to obesity (6).

The anthocyanins in cranberry juice have anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce inflammation related to obesity, potentially making weight loss easier (7, 8).

High in fiber

Cranberry juice provides fiber, a nutrient linked to weight loss.

Fiber slows digestion and nutrient absorption. This leads to reduced appetite and calorie intake (9).

One study associated eating an additional 10 grams of fiber daily with losing nearly 4 pounds (1.8 kg) over 3.8 years, without making any other dietary changes (10).

May prevent fat storage

Animal and test-tube studies indicate that cranberry juice may reduce fat storage. This may be due to the polyphenols in cranberries modifying fat metabolism (11, 12).

In one study, rats fed cranberry juice gained significantly less body fat and weight than the control group not fed cranberry juice (11).

Although these results are intriguing, human studies are needed.

Potential downsides for weight loss

Despite the potential benefits above, regularly drinking cranberry juice may have some downsides for weight loss:

High in natural sugar

While unsweetened cranberry juice is low in calories, it’s moderately high in natural sugar from cranberries.

An 8-ounce (240-mL) serving packs 30 grams of sugar — primarily in the form of glucose and fructose (1).

While the sugar in cranberry juice comes from fruit rather than added sugar, it’s still a type of simple sugar that should be moderated on a weight loss diet.

Consuming too many calories from any source — including naturally sweet juices — can make it difficult to maintain a calorie deficit needed for shedding pounds (13).

May lead to excess calorie intake

While cranberry juice provides vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, it offers little protein, healthy fat, or other nutrients.

If you drink a lot of cranberry juice in place of more nutrient-dense foods, you may miss out on important nutrients that support a healthy weight.

Additionally, counting cranberry juice as a vegetable or fruit serving could lead to inadequate produce intake, an essential part of a balanced weight loss diet.

Lacks protein and fat

Cranberry juice is virtually protein- and fat-free.

While limiting these macronutrients can help reduce calorie intake, getting too little dietary protein and fat may be counterproductive for weight loss.

Insufficient protein intake can lead to muscle mass loss. Preserving muscle during weight loss is important, as muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue (14).

Meanwhile, healthy fats help you feel full. Inadequate fat intake may lead to increased hunger and calorie consumption (15).

For the best weight loss results, consume cranberry juice as part of a balanced diet providing all essential macronutrients.

Often high in added sugar

Many commercial cranberry juice products contain added sugar, which significantly increases the calorie content.

For example, while an 8-ounce (240-mL) serving of unsweetened cranberry juice provides 116 calories, the same amount of sweetened cranberry juice cocktail packs 137 calories (1, 2).

Higher calorie intake can impair weight loss efforts. What’s more, added sugars like high fructose corn syrup provide empty calories and have been linked to obesity (16).

To maximize potential benefits, opt for unsweetened cranberry juice with no added sugar. Better yet, try diluting unsweetened juice with a bit of water to cut calories and sugar content.

How much to drink per day

There’s no universally recommended cranberry juice dosage for weight loss. However, moderation is key.

Here are some tips for incorporating cranberry juice into your diet if you’re aiming to lose weight:

– Stick to unsweetened varieties free of added sugars.
– Limit your intake to 1–2 servings (8–16 ounces or 240–480 mL) daily at most.
– Dilute unsweetened cranberry juice with a bit of water to reduce its natural sugar and calorie density.
– Drink cranberry juice alongside meals, not on its own between meals, to limit its impact on appetite and calorie intake.
– Don’t count cranberry juice as a serving of fruit or vegetables. Focus on getting servings from whole produce.
– Consider substituting some of your higher calorie beverage choices with cranberry juice.
– Monitor your overall calorie intake, food quality, and physical activity. Don’t assume cranberry juice alone will lead to weight loss.

As with any change to your diet for weight loss, moderation and balance are key.

Should you drink cranberry juice before or after a workout?

Some people enjoy sipping on cranberry juice before or after exercise. Here’s a look at the potential benefits and downsides:

Potential benefits

Drinking cranberry juice around your workout may offer a few advantages:

– Provides fluids. Staying hydrated during exercise is critical. Cranberry juice can help meet fluid needs (17).

– Supplies easy-to-digest carbs. Its carb and natural sugar content can help fuel your workout (18).

– Rich in antioxidants. The antioxidants in cranberry juice may offer additional anti-inflammatory benefits (19).


There are also some potential downsides to consider:

– May cause GI distress. The high sugar content could result in diarrhea or stomach cramps during intense exercise (20).

– Not ideal for rehydration. While cranberry juice provides fluids, sports drinks are superior for rehydration after exercise (21).

– May lead to excess calorie intake. Drinking cranberry juice frequently could make it harder to maintain a calorie deficit.

– Lacks other key nutrients. Unlike sport-specific products, cranberry juice is low in electrolytes, protein, and other workout-supporting nutrients.

The bottom line

Drinking a small glass of cranberry juice before or after exercise is unlikely to negatively impact your workout. However, it’s not necessarily better than water or a proper sports drink.

For most people, moderation and timing are key. Limit cranberry juice to a small portion, and avoid consuming it during intense training to minimize potential GI issues.

Other weight loss tips

While cranberry juice may offer some modest weight loss benefits, it’s just one piece of the puzzle.

Here are some other evidence-based tips for losing weight:

– Monitor your calorie intake. Create a moderate calorie deficit of 500–1,000 calories daily to promote steady weight loss (22).

– Eat more whole, unprocessed foods like vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, whole grains, and legumes. These foods are nutritious and satiating.

– Limit sweets, fried foods, sugary beverages, processed snacks, and other ultra-processed foods. These are linked to weight gain.

– Stay hydrated by drinking water and other unsweetened beverages. Proper hydration is essential for health.

– Exercise regularly doing both cardio and strength training. Aim for 150–300 minutes of moderate exercise weekly.

– Get 7–9 hours of quality sleep per night. Lack of sufficient sleep may disrupt hunger signaling hormones.

– Manage stress through relaxation practices like yoga, meditation, deep breathing, massage, or aromatherapy. High stress can increase cortisol levels and promote weight gain.

The key is following an overall healthy, calorie-controlled lifestyle. Don’t assume that simply adding cranberry juice will lead to weight loss.

Precautions for cranberry juice

Cranberry juice is safe for most people when consumed in moderation. However, some precautions apply:

– Pregnancy and breastfeeding. There’s limited research on cranberry juice intake during pregnancy and breastfeeding. It’s best to stay under 400 mg of natural sugar daily from juices.

– Kidney stones. People prone to kidney stones should moderate their cranberry juice intake, as it contains oxalate (23).

– Medications. Cranberry juice may interact with antibiotics, blood thinners, diuretics, and diabetes medications. Consult your healthcare provider.

– Allergies. Cranberries belong to the same family as blueberries and grapes. Avoid cranberry juice if you’re allergic to these.

As with most things, moderation and caution are key when adding cranberry juice to your diet.

Bottom line

Cranberry juice is a tasty, low calorie beverage packed with nutrients.

It may help reduce inflammation, hunger, and fat storage — all of which may make losing weight a bit easier.

That said, cranberry juice alone is unlikely to lead to significant weight loss. Focus on following an overall healthy lifestyle involving proper nutrition and regular activity.

When consumed in moderation alongside a balanced diet and active lifestyle, cranberry juice can be a flavorful addition to your weight loss diet.

Calories in 8 ounces (240 ml) unsweetened cranberry juice 116
Total sugars 30 grams
Vitamin C 22% of the Daily Value (DV)
Vitamin E 8% of the DV
Vitamin K 5% of the DV
Potassium 5% of the DV

The bottom line

Drinking 1-2 servings (8-16 ounces) of unsweetened cranberry juice per day may provide modest benefits for weight loss. However, cranberry juice alone is unlikely to lead to significant weight loss. Focus on following an overall healthy lifestyle with proper nutrition and regular physical activity.

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