If you’re trying to live a healthy life, maintain weight, or lose weight, it is essential that you know what you are putting in your mouth. Eating well is relatively simple, and most people know what to eat when it comes to making healthy choices. When it comes to drinks however, the majority of people are completely unaware of what they are consuming, and the added calories that come with their drink choices.
I am not a believer of counting calories at all, however an awareness of the energy value in certain beverages is imperative to achieving a stable weight and optimal health and wellness. Some of the worst offenders are listed below:
Soft drink / soda: An obvious offender. A 600ml bottle of coke has 16 teaspoons of sugar and 240 calories in it. For those calories, you could eat a bowl of oatmeal with hazelnuts, flaxseed and apple. Certainly more filling (and nutritious) than a bottle of Coke.
Sports drinks, ‘Vitamin’ waters and ‘Smart’ waters: Glorified sugar water, with added calories, sugars, colours and flavouring. Steer clear. If you need to rehydrate, drink water.
Fruit juice (even freshly squeezed): Many people fall under the trap of thinking fruit juice is a healthy drink. Hear this now: it isn’t. Even the freshly squeezed varieties have ridiculously high amounts of sugar (as much as soft drinks). The reason? The juicing process rids the fruit of its fibre and nutrients, leaving only the fructose (sugar). Like soft drink, juice can easily clock up the calories without delivering the nutrients.
Smoothies: Like juices, but worse. Most smoothies are packed with yoghurt (sweetened), sorbet (very high in sugar) or dairy. Remember, a smoothie has the same amount of calories as a meal, and it can be treated as such. Just be careful of what goes in it. Stick to nutritious ingredients, such as almond milk, nut butter, and a fruit (say a banana), or else a green smoothie with veggies. Remember though, this is a meal in a cup, not a snack. Best for breakfast only.
Coffee: Even the blandest of coffees (take the average latte), has around 150 calories. While this makes a good snack, some people slurp down 3+ lattes a day. That’s 450 calories just in drinks, let alone the other meals and snacks you are consuming. Go down the flavoured coffee path (think caramel and vanilla lattes) and add whipped cream, and you face an absolute dietary nightmare.
Cocktails (and alcohol generally): Creamy cocktails are a diet disaster. One pina colada, for example, clocks in at 644 calories – more than a Big Mac. Even the blandest alcohols – wine, clean spirits) have around 100-150 calories per standard serving. Most bars over-pour (as do we when we pour for ourselves!) so a big night out can mean upwards of 700 calories, just in drinks.
There is nothing wrong with indulging in some of the above drinks as treats from time to time (except perhaps for the soft drink). As long as you are aware of the energy values of these beverages, you can treat cautiously. If you are looking to lose weight, it is best to stay off the booze in the main part and ditch the other drinks all together, just sticking to plain water and tea. As always, be informed and you can’t go wrong.