Maybe you count each calorie you eat, but what about the ones you drink? Many dieters fail to realize how many extra calories are in the beverages they love.
In fact, the average American drinks one out of five of their daily calories, according to WebMD. Find out what all those smoothies and Pumpkin Spice Frappuccinos are doing to your diet and pick up strategies for bringing liquid calories under control.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that alcohol accounts for about 5% of our daily calories. That’s the equivalent of a 150-calorie beer.
1. Lighten up on beer. Light beer has almost half the calories of regular versions. Share a pitcher with friends.
2. Enjoy wine and cocktails. Wine or cocktails with club soda or juice are sensible choices. Watch out for White Russians or Pina Coladas that have as many calories as a meal.
3. Practice moderation. Two drinks a day for men and one for women are safe guidelines for most people. Be careful to avoid supersizing how much you pour. Otherwise, you may really be consuming 2 or 3 drinks when you think you’ve had just one.
Coffee and Tea
The National Coffee Association says Americans drink almost 600 million cups of coffee a year. That works out to 3 cups a day for each adult. While more Americans are drinking tea now, consumption is still just about half a pound a year per individual.
1. Limit fancy coffee drinks. Sugary syrups and whipped toppings pile on calories. Stick to black coffee or order a latte with skim or low fat milk.
2. Plan your coffee breaks. The real culprit may be the donuts and croissants you automatically grab with your coffee. Try a dish of toasted oatmeal with cut fruit instead. When you’re on the go, carry yogurt or nuts along with you.
3. Brew more tea. Tea is packed with valuable antioxidants and micronutrients called catechins. Sip a cup of green tea for an afternoon snack or an herbal blend before bed.
The other beverages most of us drink on a regular basis include some of our healthiest choices, like plain water. Industry data shows that Americans are drinking more water these days, averaging about 20 ounces a day.
1. Cut back on soda. Carbonated soda and soft drinks are high in calories. Even diet soda can cause sugar cravings because your body is unable to tell the difference between sugar and artificial sweeteners. In addition, a recent study suggests that 20 ounces of soda a day causes aging effects similar to smoking. Switch to drinking water or ice tea.
2. Eat whole fruit. Compared to orange juice, a whole orange has more fiber and about half the calories. It also takes longer to eat the fruit so your brain will notice when you’re full.
3. Whip up a smoothie. Homemade smoothies are an easy and delicious way to combine lots of different nutrients in one glass. Throw in spinach or kale and sweeten them with fresh berries. On the other hand, store-bought smoothies may contain more sugar and chemicals than you realize.
4. Drink more water. Above all, make water your first choice when you want something to drink. We often confuse hunger with thirst, so staying hydrated will curb your cravings for junk food. Water also boosts your metabolism, energizes your muscles, and aids digestion.
If you’re trying to lose weight, choose beverages low in calories and fat. For overall wellness, drink at least 8 glasses of water a day while you limit soda and Pumpkin Spice Frappuccinos to special occasions.