While striving to develop a healthy lifestyle, many people cut things from their diet, especially if their main goal is to lose weight. There are many diets that promise they will give you fast weight loss results, like low and high carb diets, juice cleanses and grapefruit diets to name only a few, but people often forget the silent culprit which adds many unnecessary calories to their diet: their drink. It’s easy to forget that drinks can play a role in one’s health. In reality, many of our favorite cocktails and beverages are loaded with added calories and sugars that hinder our weight loss efforts.
If your New Year’s Resolution is a new you, it’s important to pay attention to what you’re putting in your body. That could mean taking a closer look at some of your favorite drinks. It may be time to rethink that drink!
Calories in Drinks
Companies don’t exactly hide the calories in their beverages, however, it’s easy to ignore just how many calories a soft drink, juice or cocktail can add to your recommended daily intake. For example, do you like to grab a medium latte before heading to work? That’s around 265 calories and doesn’t include any additions you make to your drink. That soda you had with your lunch could cost you an extra 227 calories.
Not a big coffee or soda drinker? You still need to beware of juices. They may not be the healthy drink option you’ve been looking for. A 20-ounce container of 100 percent apple juice will set you back 300 calories. Even your milk isn’t low-calorie. Milk contains vitamins and minerals that you need to have good health, but when buying milk, choose a low-fat or fat-free milk in place of whole milk or 2 percent.
Don’t Be Fooled By Sugar
Sugar has many names that we need to be aware of, and some are not very obvious. Some beverages claim to be sugar-free, but in reality, are not. If you notice any of these names for sugar below in the ingredients list of your drink, you’re drinking a sugar-sweetened beverage:
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Fruit juice concentrate
- Corn syrup
Calories in Alcohol
Alcohol is equally as guilty as other beverages as being packed with calories. Cocktails can rack up calories because they’re typically mixed with regular soda, diet soda or juices. Is a rum and Coke one of your favorites? It comes packed with approximately 361 calories. Do you enjoy a cold cocktail like a mudslide? You might want to rethink that. A mudslide can have as many as 820 calories!
Remember, you’re not in the clear if you’re only drinking beer. A Sam Adam’s Boston Lager packs 180 calories in 12 ounces. So having only a few beers could lead to more than 500 calories consumed in one sitting without eating a thing.
Choosing Healthy Drinks
To avoid the potential impact of hidden calories in drinks, it’s time to make smarter and healthier beverage choices. Below are a few tips that can help make drink decisions a little easier.
- Instead of filling the fridge with sugar-packed drinks, keep a jug or bottles of water on hand instead.
- Carry a water bottle around with you and fill it regularly.
- Add fruit to water to add extra flavor.
- For a low-calorie drink, add 100 percent fruit juice to sparkling water.
Remember the latte mentioned before? You don’t have to skip your morning coffee run altogether to cut calories. You have several options such as asking for fat-free milk, forgoing additional flavors, saying no to whipped cream and simply going back to the basics: a plain ol’ cup of joe. If your favorite coffee place provides a nutrition fact sheet, whether online or in-store, make sure to check it out so you know the nutritional information on your favorite beverage. Healthy drinks are possible when you take the time to learn what’s going into them!
You don’t need to sacrifice a night out with friends or family because you’re trying to save calories. Making smart choices about what alcoholic beverages you choose to enjoy in moderation is the key to success. Luckily, there are a few low-calorie cocktails you can have that won’t break the calorie bank.
- Wine. For your night out, wine is the most calorie-friendly. A five-ounce glass of either white or red wine will be around 100 calories. Sweeter wines, like sherry, tend to have higher calories.
- Liquor. Most hard liquors are mixed with sodas, therefore increasing the number of calories in the cocktail. In place of sodas, choose tonic water or club soda.
- Beer. Calories in beer can vary greatly depending on whether it’s light beer or not. Many brands of beer come in a light version, making that your best option.
Learn to Read Nutrition Labels
Did you know that some nutrition facts labels on beverages may only provide calories for part of the contents? Many 20 ounce bottles only show the nutrition information for eight ounces while stating that there are 2.5 servings in the bottle. To know the actual number of calories, you must multiply the number of calories by the number of servings. So if the label says the drink has 100 calories per serving, the whole bottle would actually contain 250 calories.
Healthy Drinks Are Only a Part Of The Puzzle
There are plenty of healthy drink choices available, but paying attention to what you’re drinking doesn’t mean you can never indulge. You don’t have to give up your favorite drinks entirely. Treat yourself to that soda, juice or low-calorie cocktail every once in awhile. Just remember to keep it a reward and not your main source of hydration.
Your primary care provider is there to help you make healthy life choices. Scheduling regular appointments with your provider can help you make the right decisions about your health and ensure you are in tip-top shape. UnityPoint Clinic primary care providers are available to partner with you to achieve your health goals. Remember: new year, new you!
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