Are liquid calories sabotaging your weight loss efforts?
According to one study, 21% of the calories we consume come from beverages and the average American is drinking about 450 calories a day! The bad news is that these liquid calories are the most difficult calories for us to gauge, since there are none of the greasy, cheesy visual cues we get when we go face-to-face with a loaded plate of nachos. The good news is that they are the easiest calories to cut from your diet.
“Soda,” “Pop,” and “Soda-Pop”
Sweetened sodas, fruit-flavored drinks, pre-sweetened teas, and most sports drinks are full of empty calories – lots of them. Dr. Bradley has written at length about sweet tea, but soda is every bit as dangerous when it comes to your waistline (and, ultimately, your health).
A single 12-ounce can of cola has about 39 grams of sugar, adding roughly 140 calories to your diet. It might be hard to visualize that, but that means that each can contains roughly 9.5 teaspoons of sugar! The worst part: most of us drink soda in even larger quantities.
If you must have some sort of fizzy drink in your day, a diet or zero-calorie soda is a much, much better option. Nevertheless, you should try to limit sodas (diet and regular) to 1 per day.
Stop Drinking Your Fruit
Did you know that the Institute of Medicine recommends reducing fruit juice as a means of controlling childhood obesity, which is quickly becoming an epidemic here in the United States? For adults as well, it is recommended that two-thirds of your fruit intake should be from whole fruit.
If you do drink fruit juice, pay attention to the sugars on the label. Store-bought juices often contain as much sugar as a Snickers bar!
Choose Your Coffee Carefully
Some of your favorite coffeehouse drinks have A LOT more calories and grams of sugar than you might think. Our Cappuccino shake is 80 calories and just 4 grams of sugar – just saying – but think before you drink anything described by the words “caramel” or “latte.”
A medium Starbucks Caramel Frappuccino has 410 calories and 64 grams of sugar. Meanwhile, a medium-sized Dunkin’ Donuts Frozen Caramel Coffee Coolatta has a whopping 740 calories with 35 grams of fat and 97 grams of sugar.
If you just have to have caffeine, better choices include: Starbucks’ Skinny Iced Vanilla Latte (only 80 calories and 10 grams of sugar) and Dunkin’ Donuts Iced Coffee with Skim Milk and Splenda (40 calories and just 2 grams of sugar)!
Alcoholic beverages necessarily add calories to your diet. If you are trying to lose weight, you are really making things hard on yourself by drinking – you can undo all the hard work of a week in a single happy hour!
But, hey, we know that it’s summer and time for family vacations and lazy weekend afternoons by the pool and leisurely trips to the beach. So even if you do plan on having a refreshing adult beverage, make a healthier choice:
- The “heavier” the beer, including most craft brews, the more calories it is likely to have.
- Note that draft beer generally comes in 16-ounce (pint) glasses.
- 5 ounces is the standard pour for a glass of wine.
- Specialty cocktails are often a good deal larger than 8 oz, so pay attention!
- The key stat for mixologists: a shot of 80-proof liquor adds about 96 calories to your diet.
|Pabst Blue Ribbon|
|Champagne (4 oz.)|
|Rose / Lighter Reds|
|Medium / Heavy Reds|
|Mimosa (1:1) (4 oz.)|
|Sake (4 oz.)|
|Rum and Diet Coke|
|Gin and Tonic|
|Rum and Coke|
Know the numbers! Be sure to read labels. Have a healthy snack before heading to Margaritaville. And don’t forget that mixers add calories: see if you can find a diet or reduced-calorie option when making your drink of choice. And don’t forget to drink lots of water.
- Leslie Culbertson, MSSM, CSCS