Choosing the Wrong Drinks Adds Extra Empty Calories
Adapted with permission from the original article published on HVMN by Ryan Rodal.
You are starting your weight loss journey. You’ve been through your kitchen and thrown all the junk food into the trash. A diet plan has been chosen and you’ve taken those awkward “before” selfies.
What is the one thing you may have missed?
Have you made the common mistake of underestimating the caloric content of your favorite drinks?
The majority of beverages consumed by the American public each day are packed with hidden calories. The drinks you gulp down could be responsible for weight loss plateaus or lack of progress toward your weight loss goals.
Examples of Non-Healthy Drink Choices
- The “healthy” smoothie from the organic store? It contains more calories than a double cheeseburger (a large Strawberry Surf Rider from Jamba Juice has 640 calories; a McDonald’s Double Cheeseburger has 440 calories).
- Heavily sweetened coffee on your morning commute? A Venti Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino has 550 calories, while two Dunkin Donuts Glazed Donut have 520 calories.
- Having a beer with dinner? That’s more calories than a candy bar (a Lagunita’s IPA has 220 calories, while a Hershey bar has 214 calories).
This is not a suggestion to replace empty-calorie drinks with empty-calorie fast foods or sweets – it was for comparison only.
Beverages Can Add 100s of Calories Each Day
Whether it it a juice drink, flavored coffees, sodas, beers, popular “healthy” smoothies made commercially, they all contain high amounts of empty calories.
Instead of changing your diet, try rethinking your lifestyle.
Don’t count calories, make calories count!
Every calorie you choose to eat should be filled with nutrients (including beverages). Make them count. They should satisfy your hunger and help you reach your weight loss goals. The next post will discuss the best drinks to help you get there.
Beverages Are Not as Satisfying as Nutrient-Rich Foods
The first step is to be aware of the number of liquid calories you’re consuming each day, which often have little nutritional value. They may satisfy your sweet tooth; but they do not satisfy your hunger.
Studies have shown that meals with solid foods provide better sensations of fullness compared to liquid meal replacements alone.1
When you limit your daily calorie intake to kick-start weight loss, it is important to maximize the nutritional value of every calorie.
Every Calorie Counts When Committing to a Healthy Diet
- A typical 16 oz bottle of soda has around 200 calories; that’s approximately equal to six ounces of chicken breast.
- An average juice smoothie from a national chain has around 300 calories; that’s the equivalent to four whole eggs.
- Most beer has at least 150 calories, equivalent to five pieces of turkey bacon.
Choosing the non-beverage option in each of these scenarios will not only provide more nutritional value but will also help you feel full.
The soda manufacturers have taken advantage of the “diet mentality” that is a big factor in drink choices. They have provided an alternative to “sugared drinks” in the form of diet or zero-calorie drinks. The problem is they remove the sugar and add artificial sweeteners – neither one is good for your health. Bottom line: sodas are not healthy drinks.
Potential Side Effects of Sweeteners
Studies have shown body weight, fat mass, and blood pressure may all be negatively affected by the consumption of sweeteners.
Two of the most commonly added artificial sweeteners are aspartame and saccharin.2 Another is sucralose. All three carry a potential risk of adverse metabolic effects and type 2 diabetes.3
Be careful. Limit your intake of artificial sweeteners. They can be harmful to your health.
The best choice is always a natural, non-processed drink that contains minimal sugar and minimal artificial sweeteners to be safe. We will discuss those in the next posting.
Starting today….every time you have a craving to buy your favorite beverage. Stop and ask yourself some simple questions.
- What is in this drink? (Learn to read labels or look it up on the Internet.)
- How many calories does it contain?
- Are they healthy, nutritional calories – or empty?
- Do I really need this, or should I eat something solid instead?
Treating your self occasionally with a favorite drink is OK, but don’t make it a habit that takes the place of real food.
Awareness and making smart food choices are the first steps to a successful diet.
See you next time for the second post in the series, “Seven Healthy Drink Options for a Healthy Diet.”
Note: This was a long article originally that I am posting in segments for easier reading. If you want more information on the research, click on the numbered links in the posting. They will take you to the references in the original article.