Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Liquid Calories

When I start talking to someone about losing weight I often start with one big change, avoid as many liquid calories as possible.  It doesn't sound like something that would make a big impact but the fact is it does.

To lose weight, you need to cut calories and one simple way to cut a lot of calories from your diet is to avoid all high calorie beverages.  The typical culprits are sodas, energy drinks and juice.  These beverages can put a serious dent in your calorie budget.  Let's just say you drink a 20 oz. soda, 1 regular Monster Energy drink, and 16 oz of Tropicana orange juice in one day.  Well all of those beverages make up 1/3 of your 1800 calorie budget (which is on the low end of what most men need to lose weight).

Aside from the excess calories, most of these beverages are a huge source of added sugar.  According to the American Heart Association (AHA),
In 2001 to 2004, the usual intake of added sugars for Americans was 22.2 teaspoons per day (355 calories per day). Between 1970 and 2005, average annual availability of sugars/added sugars increased by 19%, which added 76 calories to Americans’ average daily energy intake. Soft drinks and other sugar-sweetened beverages are the primary source of added sugars in Americans’ diets.
The AHA new recommendations for sugar intake is not to exceed 100 calories for women and 150 calories for men.  You can read their full recommendations and findings here.

Other high calorie beverages include coffee beverages like lattes and cappuccinos,  sweetened iced tea, whole-fat dairy, lemonade, fruit punch and of course alcohol.

If weight loss is your goal, try to limit your calories from beverages to less than 100 calories per day.  The Center for Disease Control (CDC) put out a great promotion Rethink Your Drink which will give you some great tips for limiting your liquid calories. 

Remember, you are drinking to hydrate yourself, then nothing does that better than plain, simple water.  But if you must add some flavor, try a squeeze a lemon, using Crystal Light, or choosing diet beverages.  Just be cautious with the amount of artificial sweeteners you use.  Some research has shown that those who drink more diet sodas tend to gain weight rather than lose weight.  Take a look at this great blog post to learn more about artificial sweeteners.

So if weight loss is your goal, take a close look at the liquid calories you are taking in and try to make some healthier choices.