When it comes to managing weight, keeping a close eye on what you drink is often overlooked. However, beverages can make a meaningful impact on your overall nutrition. In some cases, calories are hidden in drinks that seem healthy. Taking stock of what you drink, and making appropriate changes is a worthwhile step in your weight management journey. Below are a few beverages to keep in mind when evaluating your liquids.
Protein shakes and smoothies should be on your radar when it comes to managing weight. Many of these drinks, whether premade or made at home, are actually meant to be meal replacements. These beverages have enough nutrients to fill you up as a meal would.
However, it’s easy to mistakenly drink them as a snack, and that’s how they can lead to weight gain. If you plan to enjoy a protein shake or smoothie, do your research to make sure it’s not a meal replacement. Before purchasing a smoothie or protein shake, check the label for added sugars. If you can, go for something that is all-natural without any artificial ingredients.
A common soda replacement is fruit juice, and unfortunately, many fruit juices have nearly as much sugar as soda. We think of fruit juice as being healthy, because fruit is healthy for you, but it can actually sabotage your goals.
According to a recent research report, fruit juices had, on average, 45g of sugar per liter, while sodas had, on average, 50g of sugar per liter. While the sugar in fruit juice is naturally occurring, it’s still sugar, and it can contribute to weight gain. The best advice? Eat your fruit, don’t drink it.
Similarly, sports drinks contain high amounts of sugar. A typical 20-ounce bottle of the average sports drink contains nine teaspoons of sugar. Soda, in contrast, has 17 teaspoons. Hydrating with a sports drink is really only necessary after one hour or more of high-intensity exercise. The sugar and electrolytes are useful for the body to refuel after athletic activity, and they are less useful when trying to manage weight.
If you are not doing a high-intensity activity, you most likely don’t need a sports drink.
Finally, alcohol is another beverage category to watch out for when it comes to hidden calories. We often don’t think twice about a pint of beer or a glass of wine, but these drinks can add at least 100 extra calories to your day. Mixed cocktails using sugary syrups can pack even more calories.
Moreover, excess drinking can lead to excess eating. While it’s best to avoid alcohol altogether, it does happen, especially in social situations and there are a few strategies to keep drinking in check. First, set a limit of one or two drinks. Second, substitute water or club soda in between each alcoholic beverage. Third, avoid mixed drinks, which are more likely to contain added sugar.
The absolute best beverage for your daily hydration is water. In addition to helping you avoid unnecessary calories, hydrating with water is good for your skin and your immune system. You can jazz up your water by infusing it with lemon, mint, or even fresh fruits. Another option is to try sparkling water (particularly if you are trying to kick a soda habit).
At the end of the day, being aware of the nutritional quality of what you drink is just as important as knowing what you eat. If you are ready to start losing the weight once and for all, stop by one of our Healthy Steps clinics to learn more about our program and how we can help you reach your target weight.