Thursday, June 11, 2009

SKINNY SIPPING: Drink Pounds Away

Skinny Sipping: Drink Pounds Away

Many of us watch what we eat but not what we drink when on a diet. That’s a mistake. The average American gets a fifth of daily calories from beverages. Choosing the right drinks can tweak your metabolism, curb your appetite, and reduce your total calorie count. Which drinks are spoilers and which are helpers on the path to weight loss?

Spoiler: Soda

Every time you chug a bottle of soda, you’re consuming hundreds of empty calories. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, carbonated soft drinks are the single biggest source of calories in the American diet. Switching to diet soft drinks is an obvious way to cut calories, but it’s unclear whether this switch results in weight loss. In some people, diet soda may increase their sweet tooth.

Helper: Water

Replacing carbonated soft drinks with water will cut hundreds of calories per day, and the benefits don’t stop there. Drinking two glasses of water before a meal may encourage the stomach to feel full more quickly, so you don’t eat as much. In addition, new research suggests drinking plenty of water may have a positive effect on your metabolism.

Jury’s Out: Fruit Juice

Juice can have as many calories as soda, but it has far more to offer in the way of nutrients. This presents a dilemma -- you want the vitamins and antioxidants without all the extra sugar. The safest bet: Look for 100% fruit juice. Steer clear of juice drinks that have added sweeteners. Look for the percent of real juice, noted on the nutritional label. You can also slash calories by drinking water with a tiny bit of juice added.

Helper: Vegetable Juice

Vegetable juice is every bit as nutritious as fruit juice with about half the calories. A 12-ounce serving of tomato juice has 80 calories, compared to 160 calories for orange juice. Vegetable juice with pulp is also high in fiber and can help control hunger.

Jury’s Out: Smoothies

Blend a banana, strawberries, and blueberries into a frothy smoothie, and you’ve got a delicious arsenal of disease-fighting vitamins and minerals. The homemade variety is best when you’re counting calories, because you can control the ingredients -- skim milk and fresh fruit are all you need. Restaurant smoothies may contain ice cream, honey, or other sweeteners that boost the calorie count sky-high.

Jury’s Out: Low-Fat Milk

Consuming calcium-rich foods may do a body good, but calcium probably won't help you lose weight, new research now reveals. Some earlier studies suggested calcium may prompt the body to burn more fat, but there’s little evidence to support these claims. Depriving the body of calcium, on the other hand, has been show to trigger an increase in the production of fat cells. To get the benefits of calcium without consuming extra fat, stick to skim or low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese.

Spoiler: Energy Drinks

Sports and energy drinks are calorie bombs like soda. They may have more added nutrients, but you can find the same vitamins and minerals in low-calorie foods. People who are serious about losing weight should stay hydrated with water rather than sports drinks.

Helper: Black Coffee

When you need a shot of caffeine, coffee is a better choice than soda or energy drinks. Black coffee is calorie-free and rich in antioxidants. Studies have shown that consuming moderate amounts of coffee (about 3 to 4 cups a day) may improve mood and concentration, and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and several types of cancer.

Spoiler: Fancy Coffee

Once you add heavy cream, flavored syrups, and/or a snowcap of whipped cream, that innocent mug of black coffee becomes a minefield of fat and sugar. Specialty coffees can contain up to 570 calories per cup -- possibly more than an entire meal! If you don’t like your coffee black, add a little skim milk and artificial sweetener to keep the calorie count low.

Helper: Green Tea

Green tea is another excellent choice when you’re looking for a little caffeine. Not only is it calorie-free, some research suggests green tea extract may stimulate weight loss through the action of phytochemicals. These are plant-based compounds that may temporarily cause the body to burn more calories and melt fat. The benefit appears to last only a few hours, so it may help to drink green tea at least twice a day.

Spoiler: Wine Coolers

Wine coolers may sound light and airy, but they are heavy on calories. A 12-ounce wine cooler can have 190 calories and 22 grams of carbs. Regular wine is not much better with at least 100 calories in a 5-ounce glass. A low-calorie alternative is a wine spritzer: mix a dash of wine with some sparkling water.

Spoiler: Cocktails

A shot of hard liquor has fewer calories than wine or wine coolers, but once you mix in soda or cream, watch out… An 8-ounce white Russian made with light cream has 715 calories. A less fattening option is to mix rum or vodka with diet soda.

Helper: Light Beer

OK, beer is not really going to help you lose weight. But if you’re out with friends and want to share a pitcher, light beer is the way to go. A serving has 100 calories, compared to 150 calories for regular beer.


I am Harriet said...

I'm in!
Happy VGNO!

Carolee / Home4ever said...

The kids in a health class at my daughters school did a project on sugar in drinks. They converted the grams of sugar into tsp or Tblsp.

Many of your sodas and energy drinks have ALOT of sugar in them. One drink had like 12 1/2 tsp!

Scary when you consider that some kids drink nothing but soda & juice!

No wonder so may kids are classified ADHD and such!Not to say some aren't really ADHD, but I think it gets misdiagnosed alot.

Carolee / Home4ever said...

Oh yeah, Happy VGNO!

jewelryandgiftsbyrebecca said...

Very interesting. So, I'm not so unhealthy after all. Water and coffee are at the top of my list.

Have a great weekend!

Ali said...

Hmmmm....maybe that is why I gained 4 lbs last week....too many wine coolers! lol! Happy VGNO!

Lola said...

Smokin’ Molly stopping by for VGNO.

Have a great weekend.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Well Gena, I do fairly well with the liquids. I do have a question. I do drink water --but would prefer flavored water (like Crystal light).. Is that okay?????

I love V-8 juice and stay away from OJ due to all of the sugar.

I do drink soda (diet) on occasion --but never during the day in the house.

We do make Smoothies --but I use 1% milk. I cannot stand fat free milk.

I like coffee too--but do use splenda.

Thanks for a great list.

Anonymous said...

Very informative. Thanks for sharing.

Happy VGNO

Martha in PA said...

Happy VGNO.