Most traditional weight loss programs and fad diets focus on what you eat, but how about what you drink? That myth that liquid calories don’t count simply isn’t true. Beverages, some of which may be disguised as healthy, are full of sneaky calories and added sugar.
Did you know that drinking just one 20-ounce bottle of a sugary beverage per day can result in gaining as much as 25 extra pounds per year? Those who consume 1 to 2 cans or more a day have a 26% greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those who drink them rarely. Additional effects include increased risk of cancer and becoming overweight or obese. It can even reduce your chance of becoming pregnant.
In a perfect world, we’d all only drink water. But, we understand that’s not exactly realistic. Instead, try these five simple drink swaps that you can make right now.
Ditch: Frozen or specialty coffee
Drink: Cold brew or hot/iced coffee
A 16-ounce white chocolate mocha has 53 grams of sugar and its frozen counterpart has 64 grams. To put that in perspective, the American Heart Association recommends no more than 37.5 grams of added sugar in a day for men and 25 grams for women.
Cold brew and regular hot or iced coffee can all taste great on their own and have zero added sugar. At the very least, you can control the amount of sugar that you add.
Ditch: Fruit Juice
Eat: Real Fruit
This isn’t exactly an even swap since it’s not drink for drink, but eating real fruit instead of drinking fruit juice can make a big difference. This will allow you to get the maximum nutritional benefits without the added sugar. When you do drink fruit juice, read the label closely and choose varieties with no added sugar.
Drink: Sparkling water
If you were to only choose one drink swap to make it, this should be it. Sodas are not only full of added sugar but many other additives that have been linked to health problems such as diabetes, heart problems, asthma, COPD and obesity.
For many, it’s not the taste of soda that makes it difficult to give up, but the carbonation. We’re fortunate that there are now countless sparkling water alternatives available on supermarket shelves and even at many self-service drink dispensers. Another great option is club soda with a lemon, lime or splash of your favorite fruit juice.
Ditch: Store-bought smoothies
Drink: Homemade smoothies
Smoothies can be tricky. You think you’re making a healthy choice because they are packed with superfoods like berries, spinach or kale, but in reality that can be contributing to those stubborn unwanted pounds.
While having someone else make them for you or grabbing a pre-made smoothie from the freezer section is certainly convenient, it also means you’re giving up control over the ingredients inside. Even the most popular juice bars are guilty of adding frozen yogurt or sherbert resulting in over 600 calories and 120 grams of sugar.
It’s not as time-intensive as you think to make them yourself at home, and you’re likely to save some money in the process.
Ditch: Flavored drink powders or drops
Drink: Fruit-infused water
Artificially flavored drink powders are another easy convenience trap to fall into. Many are marketed as low-calorie, no-calorie or sugar-free. Plus, since you’re adding them to water then it must be healthy, right? Wrong. Flavored drink powders or drops often use artificial sweeteners, flavors and colors that can mess with your metabolism. Additionally, they can result in developing an inability to drink water without some sort of sweetener or flavor.
A healthier alternative is fruit-infused water. Add in some fresh sliced cucumber or lemon, maybe a sprig of mint or some basil. The options are endless and easy to change up based on your mood. You can even pick up a fruit infused water bottle to make it even easier to take with you on the go.
Contact Total Healthcare MD
While these everyday drink swaps will certainly contribute to your overall health, when it comes to weight loss there is no single solution. At Total Healthcare MD, we believe that a multi-faceted approach is what delivers long-lasting results. To learn more about our physician-supervised weight loss program or to schedule a consultation, call (919) 436-3777.