By: Paige Whitmire, RD, LDN

For those interested in losing weight and improving body composition, high calorie beverages are often overlooked and can sabotage an otherwise well executed weight loss strategy.

It is important to remember that to lose weight, you must create a caloric deficit by either eating less calories, burning more calories (through exercise) or a combination of the two. A great place to start is to eliminate, or at least reduce, high-calorie beverages from your diet.

Below are some examples of how daily caloric intake can add up from drinks:

1 beverage 7 beverages per week
16oz caramel Frappuccino 420 calories 2,940 calories
20oz bottle of soda 240 calories 1,680 calories
18.5oz bottle of sweet tea 190 calories 1,330 calories
12oz can of beer 155 calories 1,085 calories
5oz glass of wine 125 calories 875 calories
12oz latte 125 calories 875 calories
8oz cup of juice 120 calories 840 calories
8.2oz can energy drink 115 calories 805 calories
1.5oz hard liquor 95 calories 665 calories
12oz sports drink 95 calories 665 calories

Caloric intake only needs to exceed 3,500 calories of your total energy expenditure for your body to gain one pound of fat.

The example below demonstrates how quickly calories from beverages can add up.

  • One 12 ounce can of beer = 155 calories x 7 cans per week = 1,085 calories
  • One 20 ounce bottle of soda = 240 calories x 7 bottles per week = 1,680 calories
  • One 8 ounce cup of juice = 120 calories x 7 cups per week = 840 calories

The total calories from beverages in this example is 3,605 calories.  That exceeds the 3,500 calorie limit resulting in a one pound weight gain from beverages in just one week.

Limiting your caloric intake from beverages doesn’t mean drinking less. In fact, your water consumption should increase as you reduce consumption of high calorie beverages. Among many other things, sufficient hydration helps keep your metabolism elevated and your body functioning at a high level.

For this week and moving forward, consider how many calories you consume through beverages. Start small and follow our less is more concept as you develop a strategy to reduce your caloric intake from drinks. Make one small modification to your current habits, then build on your success. You can make a major impact on your health and fitness by making a conscious decision to substitute high calorie beverages with water, green tea, or other low calorie choices. If you need any help, check with our dietitian Paige Whitmire.