For those interested in losing weight and improving body composition, food is only part of the equation. High calorie beverages are often overlooked and can sabotage an otherwise well executed weight loss strategy.

In order to lose weight, we must create a calorie deficit and elevate our metabolism. When we reduce our caloric intake, it becomes increasingly important to ensure that the calories we do take in are nutritious. Unfortunately, many empty (non-nutritious) calories are found in some of our favorite drinks.  Fruit juice, alcohol and other sugary beverages should be kept to a minimum or eliminated all together.

Fruit juice is often thought of as a healthy choice. While it is more nutritious than other options (such as soda), the calories are too concentrated. Just half a cup (4 ounces) of apple juice has 60 calories, the same as a whole apple, but without the fiber that makes fruit filling.  In addition, many fruit juice beverages have sugar added. Excess energy from simple carbohydrates such as sugar are stored as fat. Accordingly, simple carbohydrate consumption should be curbed when trying to lose body fat.

Some examples of how calories from beverages can add up:

One can beer = 153 calories x 7 cans per week = 1071 calories

One 20 oz. Coca-Cola = 241 calories x 7 cans per week = 1687 calories

One 8 oz. cup orange juice from concentrate = 112 calories x 7 cups per week = 784 calories

Total calories from liquids in a week = 3,542 (it takes 3,500 calories to form 1 lb. of body‐fat)

Limiting your caloric intake from beverages doesn’t mean drinking less. Among other things, sufficient hydration helps keep your metabolism elevated. We recommend drinking up to half your body weight in fluid ounces of water per day. Consuming beverages like fruit juices, sodas and alcohol make it difficult to drink enough water on a daily basis. In addition, many of these drinks have a dehydrating effect. Diet sodas are not a good substitute for water. Surprisingly, some studies have shown that they can actually contribute to weight gain. The bottom line is that staying hydrated helps you lose weight!

You can reduce your daily caloric intake significantly and boost your metabolism at the same time by limiting your drinks to water, unsweetened green tea and other non-calorie beverages. This week, keep track of how often you make a conscious decision to substitute a high calorie beverage with a better choice. At the end of the week, calculate how many empty calories you have saved. It can be pretty motivating!


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