(Cut the Liquid Calories)
What are liquid calories? They are the calories you drink. In 2009, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health looked at the relationship between beverage consumption among adults and weight change. What did they discover?
- Weight loss was positively associated with reducing intake of liquid calories.
- Liquid calorie intake had a stronger impact on weight gain than solid calorie intake.
Results are published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Liquid calories go down pretty quickly, but don't fill you up. Let's consider apple juice vs. a whole apple. A 1/2 cup of apple juice has about the same amount of calories as a small apple. However, the apple juice is gone in 4 gulps while a whole apple takes a while to eat and provides you with important fiber and more satiety than apple juice.
Liquid calories are generally "empty calories", meaning they offer little nutrients. The big exception to this is milk. Non-fat milk can add a myriad of nutrients to your daily diet, including protein, calcium, Vitamin D, and potassium for as little as 80 calories per glass. Compare that to one can of Rock Star energy drink: sugar-water and caffeine for 248 calories.
Here are a few common examples of liquid calories:
Starbucks Venti Carmel Machiatto = 300 calories
Jamba Juice Strawberry Surf Rider (Power Size) = 580 calories
Arizona Iced Green tea 24oz can = 210 calories
Muscle Milk 14oz ready to drink bottle = 230 calories
20 oz bottle Regular Soda (not diet) = 240-290 calories
16 oz can of Rock Star Energy Drink = 248 calories
20 oz bottle of Minute Maid lemonade = 260 calories
16 oz bottle of Langers Apple Juice = 240 calories
And now for alcohol.....
12 oz beer, regular = 145-180 calories
Bottle of Mike's Hard Lemonade = 220 calories
5 oz glass of wine = 100-120 calories (who drinks only 5 oz?)
Typical restaurant Margarita = 400 calories-700 calories
Here is a sobering thought. To burn the calories in one 20 oz. bottle of regular soda you would need to do one of the following: walk 3 miles, 1/2 hour aerobics class, or vigorous cycling for 20 minutes. Is that soda really worth it?
To achieve weight-loss, your daily calorie intake must be less than your calories burned for daily activities and exercise. To make your weight-loss journey more enjoyable and ensure you get all your required nutrients, make every calorie count! Chew your calories, savor them with healthy food choices, and avoid empty liquid calories.
How can you make simple changes to reduce intake of liquid calories?
- Drink more calorie-free WATER instead of soda, energy drinks, or juice. Flavor your water with lemon, orange, or cucumber slices.
- Try some calorie-free or low-calorie flavored teas.
- Reduce the portion size of your favorite beverage. Example: choose a Tall Starbucks drink instead of the large Venti size.
- To get your fruit and vegetable servings, choose whole fruits and veggies instead of juices. Whole fruits and veggies provide fiber and help you feel fuller than juice.
- Try lower-calorie versions of your favorite drinks.
- Reduce alcohol consumption.
- To avoid feeling deprived of your favorite drinks, make small changes over time so they become lifetime habits. For example, if you go to Starbucks 5 times per week, try going only 3 times this week and choose a smaller drink size. Enjoy water or unsweetened tea on those other days.
Still not convinced? Check out this link to a video from the NYC campaign against sugary beverages.
Remember, fuel excellence!