You are on a mission to lose weight or to maintain your current weight, and you already know the secret formula. It’s all about calories in versus calories out. You’ve set up a meal plan, banished all the processed food from your home, and put in the time and effort to create healthy, nutritionally-dense meals. So, why aren’t you losing weight? The answer may be sitting in that glass of orange juice on the breakfast counter or in a glass of wine you sip each evening to relax. It’s most definitely hiding in that foamy latte you ”need” each morning to get through the day.
Not many consider the negative effects of drinking calories. The high calorie drinks you swig throughout the day could be adding massive amounts of calories, carbs, and sugar to your diet, which, in turn, could be the reason the numbers on your scale are ticking up instead of down. Many people don’t realize how many calories they drink a day, so here’s what you need to know about all those sneaky liquid calories that could be sabotaging your weight loss efforts.
Drinks Are Swimming in Calories
Our culture is filled with fizzy, bubbly, soothing, and fruity drinks. The major problem is that many of these drinks are filled with calories. Let’s take a quick look at an entirely plausible scenario.
You make a healthy breakfast in the morning, which includes a cup and a half of orange juice (168 calories). Oranges are good for you, right? You swing by the nearest Starbucks on your way to work for a necessary pick-me-up. Of course you add whip cream to your Iced Caffé Mocha. You aren’t a sadist. Add 350 to your calorie count.
Lunch rolls around. You’ve made yourself a healthy wrap, but you pair it with a can of Coca-Cola (140 calories). You know soda isn’t good for you, but it’s only one can, and it’s something you look forward to at the halfway point in your day. Finally, the workday is over. You deserve to unwind, and what better way to do that than with a rich, earthy glass of Sangiovese wine (126 calories)?
None of this sounds like a big deal, right? Oh, but it is. By the end of the day, you’ve swigged almost 800 calories (784 to be exact)! If you are trying to stick to 2,000 calories a day, you’ve already used up almost 40% of your allotted calories just on your drinks!
Bottom line: The high calorie drinks you love could be tipping the scale against you and your weight loss goals.
Many Drinks are Filled with Sugar
Not only are soft drinks, fruit drinks, and foamy Frappuccino’s filled with calories, they’re also swimming in sugar, which can quickly lead you to pack on the pounds. That glass of orange juice in the morning will dump over 30 grams of sugar into your system. You’ll get another 30 grams from your Iced Caffé Mocha and 39 grams from that single can of Coke.
The American Heart Association suggests that men limit their sugar consumption to 37.5 grams per day and women stick with a maximum of 25 grams per day. With all the drinks above, you’ve already consumed 99 grams of sugar… and that doesn’t even include the foods you’ve eaten!
It should be noted that there is a difference between natural sugars, like what you’d find in fresh squeezed orange juice, and the added sugar in that can of Coke. That doesn’t mean fruit juices are healthy—they’re just not as bad as beverages that add lots of sugar.
Why is all this sugar concerning? One main reason is that sugar is rapidly absorbed into the body, which rockets up your blood sugar levels. You’ll feel great for a short amount of time, but then you’ll crash and crave more sugar to keep the good times rolling. Drinking lots of sugar throughout the day can also wreak havoc on your insulin levels, eventually leading to insulin resistance and possibly even diabetes.
Drinks Don’t Make You Feel Full
One of the biggest reasons that drinks can sabotage your weight loss plans is that drinks generally don’t make you feel full. Consider eating two hard boiled eggs (156 calories) and then compare that with drinking a 12 oz bottle of Budweiser (145 calories). Which will make you feel full and sated?
The answer is the eggs. There’s a dietary reason for this. Healthy, nutritionally dense foods, like eggs, leafy green vegetables, lean proteins, nuts, avocado, etc… contain healthy amounts of fiber, fats, and proteins. Your body has to work to digest these materials, which means your blood sugar remains stable and you feel full for a longer amount of time.
Sweetened and high calorie drinks, as we’ve learned, contain sugar which is processed quickly by the body, leading to blood sugar spikes followed by crashes that can actually make you feel more hungry throughout the day.
This is why beverages can be so sneaky. You don’t feel the calories you’re drinking, but a calorie is a calorie. They still add up. Even if you don’t notice, the scale will.
How to Stop Drinks from Sabotaging Your Diet
If you aren’t seeing the weight loss or weight maintenance goals you want, take a step back and look at everything you’re drinking throughout the day. You might find that you’re swigging far more calories than you realize. Here are some great tips on how to fix your “drinking problem.”
Cut Back on Sweetened Drinks
The easiest way to stop the liquid sabotage is to simply stop imbibing the drinks that are pouring calories into your body. Cut out that glass of orange juice in the morning. Keep that wine bottle corked. Skip Starbucks on the way to work and switch out that Coke for a refreshing bottle of water for lunch.
It isn’t always easy to get rid of the drinks we love, so start slow. Maybe just cut the orange juice first. Once your body gets used to that, cut out the soda at lunch.
Keep in mind that you don’t need to eliminate all high calorie drinks from your diet. It’s all about moderation. Treat yourself to a glass or two of wine on the weekends. Give yourself that Caffé Mocha if you had to stay up all night with your sick kid. Grab a can of Coke at the family picnic. Just try not to let them become a part of your daily routine.
Replace High Calorie Drinks with Low Calorie Drink Options
In many cases, the reason we love certain drinks has as much to do with our routine than what’s actually in the can, glass, or bottle in front of us. It’s possible to save the routine—and the great feelings they create—without sticking to unhealthy drink by choosing low calorie drink replacements.
For example, try eating an orange for breakfast instead of drinking a glass of orange juice. You’ll consume fewer calories, enjoy all the great vitamin C the orange has to offer, and feel fuller because oranges contain fiber. On the way to work, you don’t have to deprive yourself of a caffeine hit but consider ordering plain coffee or tea instead. Throw in a little creamer or honey to sweeten it up if you have to, but save the whip cream for a special occasion.
You can even switch out that can of Coke at lunch for Coke Zero Sugar, (though we still encourage you to try and drink water instead). Finally, if you depend on a glass of wine or frosty beer to relax at night, think of something else that can help you unwind. We suggest a walk around the neighborhood, a quick meditation session, or a delightful bubble bath.
Drink More Water
There’s one drink that can dramatically help you achieve your weight loss goals. It also helps you feel refreshed, awake, and focused. Did we mention that it has no calories or sugar? Yep, it’s water, and you should try to drink around two liters a day (eight glasses of eight ounces). If you spend your day drinking fruit juice, coffee, soda, and wine, chances are that you aren’t drinking enough water.
One of the best ways to cut calories from your diet without even feeling it, is to replace one or more of your drinks with water. Increasing your hydration (within safe levels) can also help you feel more alert and rested.
If you struggle with the non-taste of water, consider using zero-calorie flavored mixes to jazz up your water. You can even sip seltzer water and add flavoring to give yourself a fun, fizzy drink that tastes great, makes you feel good, and will even help you look good!
Now that we’ve helped you tighten up your beverage game, you may want to look at the food you stock in your kitchen. Take a look at our helpful blog, where we offer great summer recipes, healthy snacks, and yummy smoothies, which are low calorie drinks we can fully get behind.
Cheers to you and to successfully achieving your fitness goals.