It’s time to rethink your drink. Unless you are a natural water lover, chances are you’re consuming unnecessary calories through ice teas, coffee, juices or sugary smoothies and sodas.
According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the average American consumes 400 calories a day from beverages — that’s about 37 percent of our total daily diet.
Research suggests that drinking calories isn’t as satisfying to us a eating the same amount of calories in solid food form, so if you’re looking to maintain a healthy weight, you should start to pay attention to what you’re pouring down the hatch.
Here’s how to make the switch to healthy drinks that still taste great, but won’t have you pushing your calorie limits.
- Know what you’re drinking: Read those nutrition labels. Beverages like energy drinks and iced teas can be deceiving because they advertise their health benefits while hiding their ugly ingredients. They can be loaded with sugar and calories. Look for words like sucrose, glucose, fructose, dextrose, maltose and corn syrups. Concentrated fruit juice can also mean you’re in for a sugar bomb. Look at the serving size as well. One serving might be within reason, but a single bottle can sometimes have 2 or 3 servings.
- Increase water slowly: We know we’re supposed to drink lots of water, but if you’re not a fan, you’ll likely never willingly reach for that tap. Here’s how to work up to it: Start by keeping a water bottle or cup on hand near your desk. Also, keep a pitcher of water with slices of citrus cut up in your fridge. These steps will make sure it’s a convenient option for you. If the flavor still isn’t cutting your cravings for something sweet, keep seltzers or sparkling water on hand.
- Join the juicers: Store-bought juices have too much sugar and too many preservatives to be anything more than a tasty treat. But juices you make at home can be good for you — within reason. Fresh-squeezed juices can still contain lots of natural sugars, so while this is a safe choice, it must be used in moderation.
- Ride the exercise wave: Chances are if you go out for a brisk walk, short run or participate in some other physical activity, it’s not going to be sugary soda you crave — one healthy habit leads to another. When you finish up your work-out, your body will be craving hydration. Take that time to throw back a big tall glass of water (or more). Of course, working out means that you’ll naturally need more liquids to function, so you’ll have to take that into your daily totals. But once you start to crave water with exercise, you just might reach for it on your off time too.