It’s easy — and dangerous! — to drink up your calories. Sugary refreshments, smoothies and juices can be high in calories and low in nutrients, making us pack on the pounds without even realizing it.
Let’s be smart about our drink choices and pick healthy alternatives over unhealthy calorie traps. Try these easy swaps to enjoy your refreshments guilt-free!
Pre-made juices and smoothies not only have hundreds of empty calories, they also contain added sugars or artificial sweeteners. Even though they're FDA-approved, using the most common five artificial sweeteners (saccharin, acesulfame, aspartame, neotame, and sucralose), in place of sugar doesn’t make your drink “healthy”.
Harvard Medical School reported that research implies that the use of artificial sweeteners may change the way you taste food so you associate sweetness with caloric intake, causing you to crave more sweets.
So by using artificial sweeteners, you end up avoiding nutritious and filling foods, and consume more artificially flavored ones with less nutritional value, which can lead to weight gain.
Animal studies have also shown that these sweeteners can become addictive.
Always read the label of your drink and put it down if it has added sugars, artificial sweeteners, or preservatives you can’t pronounce!
It is best to make your own juices and smoothies at home and know what goes into them. Pick your favorite fruits, add a handful of kale, some coconut water and ice, then blend!
You can enjoy this easy, naturally sweet, and delicious recipe without worrying about your health or your waistline.
Soda is a No-No
It's time to skip soda, for good. Soft drinks increase your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and other chronic conditions.
Switch to simpler options like iced tea or flavored water instead. Slice oranges and strawberries and add them to cold water for a sweet, yet 0-calorie, refreshment. Try sparkling water with lemon, cucumber, and ice for another refreshing soda alternative.
You can also make yourself a cup of your favorite tea and add ice to it for a fast and healthy drink. Unlike soda, tea has great health benefits.
For example, according to TIME magazine, green tea can increase your body’s ability to burn fat and improve bone strength, whereas black tea can protect against cancer. Its consumption has also been associated with a lower risk for Parkinson’s disease.
Watch the Alcohol
Your favorite cocktail might be the culprit behind your weight gain! To keep your waistline in check, try to subtract something from your diet for every drink you have. A glass of wine has about 150 calories, and a shot of vodka or a bottle of beer has about 100.
If you want to have a drink, go for something simple like wine or beer. Choose rose or white wine over red and try to avoid cocktails that mix a bunch of sweet liqueurs, juices, and sugary soda. Always skip pre-made cocktail mixes such as margaritas.
Clear liquors like vodka and gin mixed with club soda and a twist are great low-calorie alternatives. Club soda is 0-calorie and sugar-free, and it dilutes alcohol and its effect on your cravings.
Make sure you have a snack high in protein, fiber, and healthy fats before you go out for drinks. Almonds or hummus with crackers can be great options. These will stabilize your blood sugar and fight later cravings triggered by alcohol.
It is important not to have more than two drinks per day — any more than that and you may be jeopardizing your weight and your health!
Artificial sweeteners: sugar-free, but at what cost? Harvard Health Publications. Retrieved on Feb 23.
Soft Drinks and Disease. Harvard University T. H. Chan School of Public Health. Retrieved on Feb 23.
How to Drink Without Gaining Weight. Health.com. Retrieved on Feb 23.
13 Reasons Tea is Good For You. TIME. Retrieved on Feb 23.
Reviewed February 24, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith