3 Simple Steps to Avoid Drowning in Liquid Calories

For all the counting, measuring, weighing, fussing and fretting most of us weight-frenzied Americans do to police calories, we often allow sneaky liquid calories to slide down our throats. Almost one-quarter of the calories that Americans consume come from beverages. Shockingly, sodas and other sweet drinks are the single largest calorie contributors to the American diet and to the ballooning American waist.

By simply making better beverage choices, you can boost health and shed layers – for good!

Here are three simple steps to cut those empty liquid calories – starting as soon as your next smart sip.

1. Ask yourself: “What am I drinking now?”

For seven consecutive days, write down every drink you consume, how many ounces (approximately), and the calorie count. Look at the label or look on-line if you have to. At the end of the week, calculate your grand total of liquid calories. This takes effort, but it’s an eye-opener and mind-popper!

Example: a Starbucks Caffe Latte, skim milk, grande (16 oz.) has 160 calories (with whole milk, 270 calories). One latte a day tallies to 1120 calories a week. Yikes! That’s almost a whole extra day of calories you’re getting in one week (eight days of calories in just seven days) – just from that one drink! Now, take a look at what else you’re drinking.

Check out these liquid calories and be amazed:

Coffee, with one liquid creamer (8 oz.) – 30 calories

Starbucks Coffee Frappuccino, venti – 300 calories

Starbucks Cappuccino, skim milk, grande (16 oz.) – 110

Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha, whole milk, whipped cream, (20 oz.) – 600

Beer, regular (12 oz.) – 150

Beer, light (12 oz.) – 100

Wine, red (8 oz.) – 170

Wine, white (8 oz.) – 160

Martini (2.5 oz.) – 106

Margarita (from mix) – 290

McDonald’s Chocolate Shake, large (32 oz.) – 1030

McDonald’s Coca-Cola classic, large (32 oz.) – 310

Burger King Vanilla Shake, medium (14 oz.) – 430

Ginger ale (20 oz.) – 200

7-Up, Coca-Cola, root beer (20 oz.) – 250

Milk, fat-free (8 oz.) – 90

Milk, 1% low fat (8 oz.) – 100

Milk, whole (8 oz.) – 180

Apple or orange juice (8 oz.) – 110

Grape juice (8 oz.) – 150

2. Ask yourself: “Is this drink feeding me or depleting me.”

When it comes to beverages, total calories is one consideration, total nutrients is the other. If you are consuming liquid calories, are you getting the most nutrition for your calorie buck? Look at each beverage of choice and ask this question: Does this beverage feed me with good nutrients or does it deplete me with sugar, salt, artificial sweeteners, artificial flavorings, preservatives, dyes, caffeine, and/or alcohol? Again, read your labels.

As mind-boggling as it is, the only beverages that don’t deplete are water, caffeine-free herbal teas, fresh, homemade fruit and vegetable juices, and raw, unpasteurized, store-bought juices (a rare breed).

All other drinks deplete to some degree, even the 100% commercial fruit and vegetable juices. Surprised? Let’s go through some of your deplete-me favorites.

Ï Coffee and Caffeinated Tea

Ouch – this may hurt a bit! Coffee, as well as caffeinated tea, may seem like the ideal beverage, especially when trying to lose weight. After all, it has zero calories, if you drink it black and don’t add the extra calories from sugar, chemical sweeteners, cream, or milk. However, those zero calories hardly compensate for the fact that coffee depletes you – big-time. Regardless of its sweetheart status, coffee contains caffeine, an addictive stimulant. That’s one reason why we drink it – to get that buzz. Even decaffeinated coffee contains caffeine, though in smaller amounts.

Coffee is also associated with depression, diarrhea, atherosclerosis (hardened arteries), rheumatoid arthritis, urinary incontinence, reduced insulin sensitivity, and the leaching of calcium from bones, osteoporosis. As a natural diuretic, it overworks your kidneys and bladder. If your organs work harder, you wear down faster. That’s called aging!

As far as energy, caffeine may seem to give you that quick pick-me-up with its deceptive, artificially-stimulated highs, but those highs are always followed by bottom-out lows. These spikes and dips drain your natural resources for sustainable energy, ultimately wearing you down and causing fatigue.

Ï Soda

You might as well take some of your household chemicals, add some sugar, and drink up. After all, some sodas, like Coke, can remove rust from a car’s engine. Most 12-ounce cans of pop (not to mention super-sized 42-ounce sodas) contain about ten teaspoons of sugar, a significant portion of the thirty-three teaspoons of sugar the average American eats a day, amounting to over ten pounds a month or about twenty percent of daily calories. We’re trying to get weight off, not drink more on! Both regular and diet soda are statistically linked to obesity, tooth decay, caffeine dependence, type 2 diabetes, and weakened bones. Further, the aspartame in diet sodas is believed to be toxic to the body.

If that’s not bad enough, drinking soda tends to increase cravings for other sweets, leading to uncontrollable bingeing. It’s ultra-depleting, addictive, and laden with chemicals, sugar, and calories that hinder weight loss. Why put something like that into your body at all, much less multiple times a day? Switch to sparkling water if you need the fizz. Anything but soda.

Ï Protein Drinks

Protein drinks are chemical concoctions with added sugar, salt, and calories. Plus, they overload you with protein when, if you’re eating the standard American fare, you’re already getting plenty, if not too much, from your foods. Make a fresh fruit smoothie instead. It tastes much better, provides great nutrition with plenty of protein (yes, fruit contains protein, oranges are 8% protein, the WHO says we only need 4.5% protein), provides energy (protein doesn’t provide energy, fruits and vegetables do), and contains no added sugar, salt, or other chemical additives.

Ï Processed Commercial Juices/Drinks/Sports Drinks

Unless store-bought fruit and vegetable juices and drinks are marketed as raw and fresh, they are cooked and processed, wiping out all enzymes and many vitamins. Basically, all you’re getting is cooked, concentrated fruit sugar, usually with added chemicals and preservatives.

Furthermore, many fruit juices and drinks contain additional refined sugars, unless they specifically say “unsweetened.” Believe it or not, even those that say “no sugar added,” may have added some form of refined sugar. Processed vegetable juices fare no better. They’re usually loaded with salt, sugar, and questionable manmade chemicals for flavoring and preserving.

Regardless of what has been added to processed juices and drinks, they offer you too many calories for too few nutrients. Read the label before you drink. If a juice or drink contains added sugars, salt, preservatives, colorants, or if it’s pasteurized, it depletes you, not feeds, and adds calories to the calories, which adds fat to the fat.

Ï Milk

Milk and dairy products are associated with all kinds of problems, small and large, like stuffiness, nasal drip, colds, sinus headaches, constipation, stomach upsets, PMS, asthma, bronchitis, eczema, psoriasis, bedwetting, hormone-fed cancers (breast, prostate, lung, colon), atherosclerosis, heart disease, and auto-immune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.

Sidestepping the emotionally-charged dairy debate, look objectively at the calories you consume with a glass of milk. An 8-ounce glass of “fat-free” milk has 90 calories; 1% low fat, 100 calories; and whole milk, 180 calories. Three “fat-free” glasses of milk in one day adds 270 calories to your daily caloric intake. Just one daily glass of “fat-free” milk totals up to 630 calories in a week.

Bottom line question: Are those extra calories worth it to you? As always, it’s your body, your choice.

Ï Alcohol

At this point in your life, you know that alcohol is good for two things – getting tipsy and adding calories. Two glasses of red wine (340 calories), for example, contain more calories than a large, fill-you-up salad, an entire lunch, chocked full of nutrients. Cutting out alcohol is an easy way to cut down calories. Simple.

3. Ask yourself: “What are the best beverage choices?”

If coffee, soda, protein drinks, sports drinks, and commercial juices and drinks deplete you, what’s left to drink?

Ï Water

Of all the dozens of different drinks now commercially marketed, water is the best at its job: hydrating. And it comes with zero calories, zero chemicals, zero sugar, and zero salt, all for the price of zero dollars. Drinking water restores fluids in our bodies, which we lose constantly through elimination, breathing, and sweating.

Interestingly enough, water neither feeds nor depletes. It’s neutral, but critical for a well-functioning body. The same goes for herbal teas that say “naturally caffeine-free,” list only plants as ingredients, and contain no manmade chemicals.

How Much Water?

Somewhere along the way, drinking eight glasses a day became a decree that we all believed. But the truth is, your water needs vary according to your size, the types of foods you eat, the climate, and your activity levels. So there’s no magical amount.

For instance, if you load up on high-salt foods, like meat, cheese, processed foods, chips, and salty snacks, you will need to drink more water than if you fill up on fresh fruits and vegetables. Fresh fruits and vegetables contain about 70% water and little sodium, reducing your need for drinking water.

You were gifted with an amazing instinct that keeps you fully hydrated if you listen to it. It’s known in our language as thirst. When you are thirsty, drink (water!). When your thirst is quenched, stop drinking. When you’re thirsty again, drink. It doesn’t get much simpler than that.

Ï Freshly-made Juices

Juices, freshly made from whole, raw fruits and vegetables, are another great beverage choice. They not only hydrate perfectly like water, but they feed as well, providing essential vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, enzymes, and macronutrients. These liquid foods quench your thirst and offer top value for your calorie buck at the same time!

Yes, your own freshly made juices come with calories, but each one of these calories is power-packed with excellent nutrition that is absorbed into your cells within fifteen minutes, providing a walloping charge of energy.

If you don’t have the desire to embark on the adventure of creating your own juices, then don’t. But do start paying attention to those slippery calories that deplete you, not feed you, and add layers to your layers.

The topic of beverages boils down to two little words: Drink water. Your hips and your pocketbook will thank you. Now let’s all drink to that!

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