If you feel you have been picking up some extra pounds through this pandemic or hit a plateau in your weight loss efforts, you are not alone. We have heard from a lot of you that this time at home, and the increased stress of this situation has led to more drinking and more snacking.
So, today we want to highlight an area we don’t always take into consideration when we think about our daily consumption. WHAT WE DRINK. Our beverage choices can have a profound impact on how much we weigh and our overall health.
Proceed With Caution
Do you know how many calories your favorite drinks are hiding? That 12-ounce can of soda has 124-189 calories! Love your Latte? The 12 ounce nonfat Caffe Latte at Starbucks has 120 calories (yes, the nonfat one). And alcohol?! While I love a good craft beer, alcohol packs a hefty 7 calories per gram–second only to fat. So, a nice cold brew will have over 150 calories, and a small pour of wine 125 calories. Even 100% fruit juice is guilty—a 12 ounce glass of apple juice will set you back around 170 calories.
It’s not that 1 beverage is a problem. It’s that these calories quickly add up – because they often go down quick and smooth, especially on a hot summer day, so you end up having several. However, if you are trying to reduce your caloric intake, be extra careful with what you are drinking. You can drink away almost one fourth of your daily recommended calories in just a few of glasses!
The trouble with drinking calories goes beyond a few pesky pounds. The source of the calories in beverages is usually sugar. Many beverages contain sugar. And it’s not just a little sugar. It’s a lot of sugar, to the tune of 10 teaspoons per 12 ounces of both orange juice and Coca-Cola classic! And don’t turn to Vitamin Water to reduce your liquid calories. It delivers a surprising 4-5 teaspoons of sugar! Trust me: there are better ways to get your vitamins!
Sugar causes weight gain in a few different ways. The obvious way is by slamming your body with extra calories. But there is a more sinister way. When you drink that sugar, it ends up in your bloodstream as glucose and raises the glucose level in your blood. Your body recognizes this as dangerous, so your pancreas works overtime to release insulin to clear out the extra glucose.
But that extra glucose has to go somewhere! And that is why insulin is called the fat storage hormone. Insulin sweeps the glucose out of your blood and stores it in your cells as fat.
Therefore, if you are drinking (or eating) too many calories, weight gain or a weight loss plateau may be the unhappy consequence.
The solution is to train your taste buds to enjoy less sugary beverages. Water is the best choice. We challenge you to get ½ your body weight in ounces of water every day. This may be hard at first but start by replacing 1 sugary or alcoholic beverage with a glass of water, then in a week try replacing 2 drinks with water. This theory is called “crowding out” if you are hydrating more with water you will be less thirsty and less likely to drink other beverages.
Don’t love plain water? Try putting slices of lemon or lime in your water. You can also freeze fruit in ice cube trays and let the fruit slowly flavor your water as the cubes melt.
Think diet drinks are the solution? Not so fast…
Many research studies have linked drinking too much diet soda to higher incidence of serious health conditions, including diabetes, dementia, heart disease and stroke.
It isn’t exactly clear why diet sodas may increase the risk of disease, but some researchers believe that it may cause vessel damage and chronic inflammations that lead to the above conditions.
Besides trying to crowd out other drinks with water, learn to drink unsweetened tea and coffee or enjoy a seltzer water instead of soda. Just be patient with yourself—it may take a few weeks for your taste buds to stop complaining and begging for sugar (or alcohol)! For a painless transition, decrease the sugar in your drinks or the number of alcoholic beverages you have each week gradually and get ready to feel better inside and out!