Are Liquid Calories Expanding Your Waist Line?

Did you know that in order to maintain a healthy weight, you must balance calories consumed (food eaten) with energy expended (physical activity)? Although this may seem like common sense, most people tend to focus on calories being consumed from food alone, while neglecting to factor in additional calories that may be coming from beverages.

Even though you may be eating the right amount of calories for your weight, height, age and physical activity level, your beverages may be adding an excess amount of calories to your diet, therefore contributing to weight gain. In fact, increasing rates of obesity have been attributed to the alarmingly high proportion of calories that are consumed in the liquid form.

When you consider that the average drink portion sizes are steadily increasing, the surge of sweetened beverages, energy drinks, and specialty coffee drinks on the market, in addition to the fact that most restaurants offer free beverage refills, you can easily fall into the trap of consuming excess calories in the form of liquids.

Ponder this:

  • A medium frozen mocha coffee coolatta with cream from Dunkin’ Donuts contains 800 calories (the large contains 1050 calories!)
  • A grande (16 ounce) white chocolate mocha from Starbucks, made with 2 % milk contains 400 calories (not including the whipped cream typically added).
  • A bottle of Vitamin Water is made up of 2.5 servings so it contains 125 calories, and 33 grams of sugar. Wowzers.
  • A 16 ounce hot chocolate from Panera Bread contains 380 calories.
  • A 12 ounce McCafe strawberry banana smoothie from McDonalds contains 210 calories.

Okay, now will probably be a good idea to re-evaluate your liquid consumption, and make sensible beverage substitutions if necessary, in order to maintain a healthy weight.

Consider the following when next you reach for a beverage:

  • Choose water, to quench your thirst. It is natural, refreshing, and essential for maintaining vital bodily functions. The Institute of Medicine recommends a total daily beverage intake of 13 cups for men and 9 cups for women. Oh, and besides it contains ZERO calories.
  • Jazz up plain water by adding lemon, lime, orange, or mint.
  • Choose regular coffee with skim milk or non fat dairy creamer instead of a latte. If you must drink a latte, try a ‘skinny latte’ (meaning that it’s made with skim milk and sugar-free syrup). Also, opt for the smallest size available.
  • Limit your intake of fruit juice to no more than 8 ounces a day. A cup of fruit juice contains 120 calories. When you drink lets say 16 ounces, 3 times a day it adds up to 720 calories. Consider diluting your juice with water to provide more volume but less calories.
  • Drink soda sparingly. That is if you can’t skip it altogether. Soda is basically sugar water, providing empty calories with no nutritional benefit. If you must indulge, you can opt for diet soda. However some studies suggest that even drinking diet soda leads to overconsumption of calories in the long run.
  • When at a restaurant, instead of getting soda refills choose water instead.
  • Limit your alcoholic beverage to one a day, and steer clear of alcoholic beverages mixed with energy drinks.

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