You may be watching the foods you eat, but are you paying attention to one of the biggest unknown diet blunders that could be the reason you can’t seem to shed the fat? What is it? Drinks. Yes, a fifth of your calories (if you’re the “average’ American) come from drinks! In fact, some people consume as much as 2000 calories everyday just by drinking sodas and fruit juice (considering that 3,500 calories= 1 lb fat… you can easily see how that would make you gain weight fast! Here’s the skinny, and the fat, of what you’re sipping (of course… moderation is key and one sip, or even one glass won’t make you suddenly blow up).
-Soda- Soda is all around bad. It’s just a can of empty calories (lots of them). So many, in fact, that the Center for Science in the Public Interest has labeled soft drinks as the number one source of calories in the overall American diet! Yes, we are consuming more soda calories than food calories! Diet sodas are calorie-free, but they have also been shown to feed into the sweet tooth, actually making people crave more sweets later.
-Fruit Juice- You may think you’re doing your body good when drinking fruit juice, but there’s the problem- many “fruit juices” are actually made only of 10% fruit. Read the label. You will see that lots of store-bought juices are in fact mostly sugar and water, with just enough juice to flavor and color it. The other issue is that juice- even the real stuff- is high in calories and absent of fiber, so really, it’s not exactly like eating 3 apples since you don’t have the fibrous digestive aid that actual apples deliver. But if you do love juice and aren’t willing to give it up, just make sure you’re drinking the real stuff. Look for 100% juice on the label.
-Fruit Smoothies- Yes, they are filled with antioxidants and several serving of fruit. But they are also filled with calories and lacking fiber (since the fruit is often stripped of its essential fibers when being juiced). The other issue with smoothies is that many people choose them in addition to a meal, tacking on as many as 700 extra calories thanks, not only to the fruits, but the frozen yogurt or other thickeners that go into the blender. If you are a fan of smoothies, make them yourself so you can control the ingredients- choosing whole blended fruit instead of juice, skim milk, and ice. And remember to think about what you’re actually eating and if it makes sense to have it as an addition to your meal, or as your meal.
-Sports Drinks- Except for a few that are labeled as low-calorie, most sports drinks are loaded with calories and carbs that you then have to go and burn off when the initial intent of exercising was to singe stored calories and fat! Why work twice as hard! In fact, some sports drinks are so filled with sugar you may as well be drinking a soda- don’t believe me? Check out the nutrition labels and compare. Sure, they have a few added nutrients, but the amount is so low that it’s often almost laughable (despite calling themselves “Immune Booster” or “Mood Mender”… The reason that serious athletes do need those drinks is because they actually need the added calories and electrolytes in order to power through marathons and endurance sports. But for the everyday exerciser- not necessary.
-“Fancy” Coffee- Coffee by itself is not at all bad for you. In fact, several studies have actually shown that it’s good for you. It’s the creamer, sugar, flavored syrups, whipped cream, and mocha that you load it with that has a tendency to stick to your thighs, adding as many as 590 calories per tasty cup.
-Cocktails- While a shot of hard alcohol may have less calories and carbs than a glass of wine, like “fancy” coffee drinks, it’s the mix-ins that make your favorite cocktails a calorie-loaded mess. One of the worst (and tastiest) of them all- White Russian, weighing in at 715 calories… and that’s with light cream! Lighten up your drink with a diet soda mixer or just drink it on the rocks.
-Water- Obviously, is the best drink to drink. It’s calories-free, it helps to cleanse the system, pulling out toxins, waste material, and even fat. Water is also a great filler. In fact, you should drink an entire glass before any meal.
-Just plain Coffee- With only 2 calories per serving, just plain coffee is a great way to get a jolt of energy without having to then use that extra energy to burn it off. More than its lack of calorie content, coffee is also antioxidant rich and studies have shown that it could in fact boost the mood and help zero in- improving focus and concentration.
-Light Beer- It’s not that beer is particularly “good” for you, but if you’re going to drink, with only 100 calories per serving, a light beer may be the way to go.
-Green Tea- Now this is a drink that’s definitely good for you. Sip it hot or chug it cold, either way, you’re getting antioxidant-rich, caffeinated (which helps with energy increase/weight loss), phytochemical-boosted (which has been shown to be a fat-burner), zero-calorie drink that has actually been shown to up your overall daily calorie burn and cut fat. Here’s to that!
-Vegetable Juice- Unlike fruit juice, vegetable juice is low(er) in calories (about half) and still fills you up with loads of antioxidants, immune boosters, vitamins and essential minerals. The best way to go is vegetable juice with pulp since it also contains fiber. Try fresh carrot or beet juice. You will be shocked at just how sweet it is! Prefer to buy it in bottles, try to stay away from high sodium options and instead get the pure stuff. Biotta is a great brand that has all sorts of juices. Another great way to go with vegetable juice- cook with it! Yes, vegetable juice is a great way to infuse a dish with flavor, color, and moisture without the fat of olive oil or sodium of stock. Love Love it!