It seems that the mindfulness we use when considering the caloric value of the foods we eat is completely forgotten when it comes to consuming liquids. Despite their seemingly harmless nature and the tendency to feel as though drinks “don’t really count” in your daily calorie count, liquid calories can add up dangerously fast if you are not aware of exactly what they contain. The surplus of calories from liquid intake sneaks up on you and can derail your health and fitness efforts packing unnecessary calories, sugars and carbs into your diet. The good news is small changes can yield a great deal of health benefits and even the most indulgent of drinks can be traded for a lighter alternative. The key to smart sipping is to be knowledgeable of what you are putting in your body. Knowledge is power and when armed with the proper knowledge, you have the power to make wiser decisions that will benefit your body inside and out. We will examine some great low calorie drink options as well as some unhealthy but popular picks and easy ways to lighten them up!
There is no doubt that water is by far the best option when it comes to choosing a drink. With zero calories and an abundance of hydrating elements, nothing beats plain and simple water. Plain water too boring for you? Spice up your water by adding fresh fruits or veggies like strawberries, lemon, apple and cucumber to give your water a light yet refreshing hint of flavor. Another awesome option that provides maximum hydration with minimal calories is coconut water. Packed with potassium and other essential vitamins, coconut water is a smart choice for those looking to stay healthy and hydrated.
Oftentimes carbonation quenches your thirst better than plain, flat water but rather than reach for a soda to get your fizzy fix, try a flavored seltzer or sparkling water. This will satisfy your craving and cost you zero calories! Check out these delicious crystal geyser sparkling water flavors. For those watching their calorie consumption, diet soda may seem like a safe pick but soda is better when avoided completely. Although diet soda has zero calories and zero sugar, most are loaded with harmful artificial sweeteners and chemicals. If soda is an absolute must for you, then diet will definitely save you some calories but it is better left on the shelf altogether.
Coffee is an essential start to the day for many people, yet many are unaware that a tall mocha from Starbucks packs 270 calories, 34 carbs, and 27 grams of sugar. While this may not be a good way to start your morning, there is no need to give up your coffee addiction. Even the sweetest and most indulgent of drinks can be made lighter by choosing fat free milk, sugar free syrups, and passing on whipped toppings or sugary extras like caramel or chocolate sauce. For more information on how to make health-conscious coffee choices, check out the Starbucks nutrition info, or download their app that allows you to build and customize your own drink and calculate all of the correlating nutritional information.
Smoothies are usually regarded as a healthy snack or addition to a meal, but many pack enough calories, sugar and carbs to be considered a large meal on their own. Many smoothie chains such as Jamba Juice now offer a “light” version of most of their smoothies allowing you to enjoy their delicious flavors for fewer calories. However, if you have the time your best bet when it comes to smoothies is to make them homemade. Choose a thickening base such as Greek yogurt or frozen bananas and then add your favorite fruits and veggies. Be careful of fruit juices as they can contain a great deal of added sugar. Almond milk or soy milk are excellent additions to make a creamy smoothie and for an extra nutritional boost add a handful of green veggies. The taste of spinach and kale often go undetected in smoothies and make it that much more nutritious!
While Vitamin water may sound like the ultimate beverage, most flavors contain 50 calories 13 carbs and 13 grams of sugar per serving. Think that isn’t too bad? One bottle of Vitamin water contains 2.5 servings and therefore a whopping 32.5g of sugar. Reach for Vitamin Water Zero, Powerade Zero, Propel, or G2, the lower calorie version of Gatorade. You’ll still get the benefit of the vitamins and electrolytes while avoiding the unnecessary calories and sugars.
Drinks may seem harmless but the calorie count adds up quickly! Choose wisely, sip smart, and keep your health and fitness goals on track!