…So why aren’t we drinking it? Or like drinking it for that matter
I’m doing this post at the
behest suggestion of a good friend who asked about beverage options that offer up more variety than water.
Beverages are really important, they are an important part of our diet that are many times overlooked as being a really signficant source of calories, or other iffy things like sugar, and fat (I’m looking at you McDonald’s Frappe’).
Staying hydrated is important for the obvious reasons, but drinking a lot of fluids throughout the day can even help with weight control/loss. Think about it this way- you drink a huge glass of water while you’re making dinner and sit down to eat- you are not nearly as ravenous as you would be not having anything at all- it is one part psychological and one part physiological trickery.
I have a rule for my patients: no drinking your calories or carbohydrates. Or rather do not drink things that provide you with these when not nutritionally needed. For example a regular pop, for about 12oz is 140 calories, and only provides you with a boatload of sugar…. unnecessary.
Versus 8 oz of milk will contain between 40-160 calories but be a fantastic serving of Calcium & Vitamin D, and provide protein and a modest amount of carbohydrate.
Before I talk about ideas for what to drink, hopefully I can help give you some ideas of WHAT NOT to drink
This folks, is the very epitome of empty calories. You essentially just get a huge load of sugar- it’s not necessary.
Three words: just eat fruit. Chew it instead of drinking it. And FYI that cranberry juice isn’t helping your bladder or urinary tract infection- in fact it can make it worse because of the sugar content.
Also even if you are doing the fresh juices like using a juicer at home- you are likely still missing out on some fiber. Bottom line: chew your fruit and veggies.
-Drinks sweetened with sugar
For this I mean adding tons of sugar and drinking a lot of SSBs (Sugar Sweetener Beverages). I think everyone can find a healthy balance between using sugar and sugar subs, but remember anytime you can cut out drinking beverages that contain sugar- you will be reducing calorie intake. And that totally adds up. An example are those big cans of sweetened teas. There is more than 1 serving in that can – so for everyone 8 oz you are getting 90 kcal. So if you have 24 oz (270 kcal) two times a day that’s 540 calories. It adds up my friends.
This follows the same line of thinking as the fruit juices. A McDonalds smoothie is more of a serving of sugar rather than a serving of fruit.
-The “fancy” coffees
These also fall in line with things like pop, or juices or other sugar sweetened drinks. Sometimes people think that because they aren’t drinking pop they are doing ok- but in reality you may be consuming just as many or more calories.
Here are some hacks for a lower calorie cup of coffee:
1) find out if the establishment does a “skinny” variety (I.e. Starbucks)
2) opt for non-fat milk or soy milk
3) Get rid of the whipped cream
4) If you drink fancy drinks with various syrups in them opt for the sugar free syrups to slash calories
-Zero calorie drinks that have ingredients in them that you can’t pronounce
So with that being said- ideas for beverages to pick from:
Pure & simple. Literally. It’s an important digestive aid, it helps our body use most vitamins, it’s also an essential component of blood & sweat.
-Fruit infused water
This is a GREAT way to spice up just “plain” H2O. I am fortunate enough to work at a facility that has one of the big water jugs with a fruit infuser so I can always fill up on that when the plain water bores me.
Herbal teas are wonderful. Contrary to popular belief they can be served hot or cold. To serve it iced just brew it like normal (with hot water), once the tea is brewed pour it over a glass of ice. Voila. Iced tea. Some herbal teas are great sources of antioxidants, while other provide things like ginger or mint which can be soothing to someone experiencing GI upset etc.
There is always debate with coffee. I’m on the team that thinks coffee provides antioxidants and a friendly morning kickstart, just don’t drink it in excess, and don’t add all of the crap to it.
About 1 cup (8 oz) = 100 mg of Caffeine
-Sparkling water (my favorite)
I relied on this to stop drinking all of the diet pop and energy drinks I used to drink. My favorite brand is La Croix – my favorite flavors are cherry lime, coconut, and peach pear.
-Milk– Including vanilla or chocolate soy/almond milks
I have become very partial to Almond milk, but I still use low fat cows milk as well. Either route you go you are getting a great amount of calcium. 1 cup (8 oz) is one serving. So getting at least two servings a day is a great way to pump up your calcium intake!
-Kefir (1-2 servings per day)
For those of you who aren’t yet acquainted Kefir is a cross between a smoothie and yogurt. It’s benefits? It’s a good source of calcium and PACKED with probiotics that are really good for the bacteria in your gut. When that bacteria is happy you tend to have better digestion, less GI stress, and have a more regular “bathroom schedule”.
You may have noticed that there are a few hot button items missing from these lists period. Like the water enhancers (MiO, Crystal Light) as well a fresh fruit/veggie juices.
In terms of the water additives they are something I use periodically to spice up my water. But 70% of the time I’m fine with just plain water. I drink close to 65-70 oz of water a day depending on the heat, my running and other factors, so yeah I keep the fluids on standby.
I am pretty neutral on the crystal lights/water additives provided they are being consumed in moderation (I would say that would be about 30%o or less of your daily fluid intake) I say in moderation because they do contain artificial sweetener, as well as a fair amount of preservatives and additives (sodium benzoate, & propylene glycol)- that in my professional opinion are safe in MODERATE AMOUNTS but I think if you were consuming half of your body weight (in ounces) per day in fluids that contain these you could be consuming too much of these things. Another reason why diet sodas are missing as well. If you have a can a day, or a little diet coke a few times a week that’s likely not too much. If you need to buy a 12 pk of pop each week – hey there are better things out there.
Ok so now the juices. Juicing can be great, especially if you are super picky about eating vegetables, and ESPECIALLY if you are making your juices at home and/or going to a juice bar. Anytime you are buying a juice (fruit/veggie) on the shelf of a store it will typically have some added sugar or salt. Also when juicing you will likely be missing out on some of the fiber you would have gotten by eating the fruit/veggie in the first place. Anytime you are chewing your foods you are more apt to reap more nutritional benefits.
I have also found that my patients who eliminate the sugary/calorie containing drinks- they have more success with not only controlling their blood sugars but better results with losing weight.
I hope I have been able to break down some beverages and give some ideas for better options.