If you’re making proper food choices and exercising in an effort to lose weight, but still aren’t seeing results, it might be time to take a serious look at what you’re drinking. New research suggests that what you suck through that straw may be sabotaging your efforts.
A recent study found that Americans consume more than 450 calories each day from beverages alone. And, if you don’t burn off those calories, you could gain an astounding 23 pounds per year. But sometimes it’s hard to gauge just how many calories we’re drinking. To shed some light on this, I’ve compiled a list of common beverages and their calorie counts.
Water (8 oz.) — 0 calories
Tea, unsweetened (6 oz.) — 2 calories
Coffee, black (6 oz.) — 3 calories
Low-Sodium V8 Juice (8 oz.) — 50 calories
Gatorade (8 oz.) — 50 calories
Light Beer (12 oz.) — 95 calories
Wine (5 oz.) — 102 calories
Orange Juice (8 oz.) — 107 calories
Milk, 2 % (8 oz.) — 113 calories
Grape Juice (8 oz.) — 138 calories
Beer (12 oz.) — 139 calories
Non-Diet Soda (12 oz.) — 150 calories
When it comes to imbibing your favorite beverages, beyond knowing the number of calories they contain there are a few other things to look out for. For instance, coffee may sound like a great choice at 3 calories per serving. But when you dump in cream, sugar, and flavored syrups, this healthy drink becomes a nightmare. One case in point: A 16-ounce, white chocolate peppermint mocha from Starbucks contains a waist-busting 470 calories!
Don’t forget about serving sizes either. Gatorade, for example, may only contain 50 calories per serving. But that 50 calories refers to an 8-ounce portion and most bottles contain two to four servings. You also shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that switching to sugar-free or diet versions is an option. This may be appealing calorie-wise, but these drinks are loaded with chemicals and additives and, therefore, in my opinion, have no place in a healthy diet.
So, what do I recommend? First and foremost, drink plenty of clean, filtered water. Aim for 64 ounces each day. If you are bored with plain water, try Perrier or another sparkling mineral water with a zest of lemon or lime. Tea, with its myriad health benefits, can also be consumed at will. And coffee drinkers can feel free to enjoy a few cups a day. Just remember, if you are going to sweeten your coffee or tea, use natural sweeteners such as stevia or xylitol and forego the calorie-dense creamers.
When it comes to juice, the only one I give my patients is Low-Sodium V8 Juice. It’s packed with potassium and lycopene, and has been demonstrated to support healthy blood pressure levels. If you choose to drink alcohol, make it one drink per day. The calories in beer, wine, and mixers can add up, plus, the benefits of alcohol only apply to moderate drinking.