What’s that you’re Drinking?
A lot of calories may come from what you drink. Some beverages offer nutrient benefits and others don’t. Understanding the good and bad points of what you drink is as important as doing the same for what you eat.
Water provides all the body’s needs to restore fluids lost through metabolism, breathing, sweating and urination. It’s perfect for quenching thirst and rehydrating your system. It may help you control the number of calories you eat. Tap water costs a fraction of a cent per glass. Water should be the beverage you turn to most of the time. And don’t wait till you’re thirsty — there are benefits to drinking it all through the day.
Tea and Coffee
Drunk plain, they are calorie-free. Because of this, you can drink them every day. However, adding cream, whipped cream and added sugars (including flavored syrups for coffee, honey and agave nectar) fills them with unneeded calories, making these drinks something that should be thought of as occasional treats.
Fat-Free, Skim and Low-Fat Milk
Milk is a good source of calcium, protein, vitamin D and other micronutrients, which your body needs. However, not all milk is the same: Whole milk and 2 percent milk contain a lot of extra saturated fat, so be sure to get the skim or 1 percent varieties.
100 Percent Fruit and Vegetable Juice
If the label says "100% juice," everything in the bottle came from a fruit or vegetable, but not necessarily the fruit or vegetable on the label. Juice contains vitamins and nutrients, but it may not be low in calories. For example, 4 oz. of 100 percent grape juice has 76 calories — not exactly low-cal. Consider diluting fruit juice half and half with water. Tomato and other vegetable juices often contain a lot of salt. Think of juice as an occasional treat. Be mindful of calories, sodium and added sugars, and stick to smaller portions of 6 oz. or less.
Regular Soda, Diet Soda
You should avoid regular, full-calorie soda. It may taste good but it has no beneficial nutrients. Regular soda has a lot of added sugars and unnecessary calories, which causes weight gain and tooth decay. Diet sodas have no calories, but they don’t have any nutrients either. And be careful not to think it’s okay to take in more calories in other areas of your diet because you chose a diet soda over a full-calorie one.
Sugary Drinks (lemonade, fruit ‘ades, energy drinks, sports drinks)
This is another category of drinks to stay away from. Although some of these drinks have a few vitamins and minerals added, they shouldn’t take the place of water or 100% fruit juice. These, too, promote tooth decay.