We often talk about food when talking about weight loss, but we absolutely need to consider how our intake of fluids affects our weight loss attempts as well. Making the right choices when it comes to the beverages you consume can make or break your best attempts to lose weight. Let's discuss a few of our options.
You've probably heard it a million times before: water is your best choice when it comes to drinks. In fact, drinking a glass of water before a meal has been shown to reduce overall caloric intake during that meal. After all, water helps you feel full. It's also common to be dehydrated and, if you drink water first, your hunger (or cravings, rather) usually go away. There has been recent research on water and metabolism showing its benefits in increasing metabolic rate. Obviously, by substituting other calorically-dense drinks with water (i.e. soda, juice, and sports drinks) you could decrease your intake by hundreds of calories per day. There are also many other health benefits to drinking water, such as overall gastrointestinal health, cleaner looking skin, more energy, better temperature regulation function and less risk for urinary and kidney infections.
Soda is basically water and a whole lot of sugar. There are approximately 14 tablespoons of sugar in every can of soda. Not only are these excess calories consumed, but they are calories that are void of any nutrients!
What about diet soda? While you decrease the amount of calories consumed, research is telling us that it does not assist with weight loss. The artificial sweetener triggers the same chemicals in your brain that sugar does, increasing caloric consumption later in the day. Not to mention you are now consuming chemicals about which we have little to no health or nutritional research - what long term effects they may have on your health is yet to be discovered.
Many fruit juices are equivalent to soda in terms of calories! Many are also not fruit juice; they are water, sugar, flavorings and a tiny bit of fruit juice. If you purchase 100% fruit juice, you are certainly consuming more nutrients, but at the end of the day, it’s a concentrated source of calories when you could have eaten a piece of fruit instead and benefited from its fiber and other nutrients.
A better idea is to extract juice from fruits with your NutriBullet. That way you don’t miss out on any of the health benefits of that fruit and the taste is fresher!
Bottled vegetable juice is similar to fruit juice in that you lose out on the fiber from the vegetables. You will consume less calories than drinking prepared fruit juice, but will also be consuming more sodium. This is a benefit to endurance athletes, but not to anyone with hypertension, diabetes, heart disease or individuals who are trying to lose weight. NutriBlasting your vegetable juice maintains all of the nutrients in the vegetables. Make your own and you can control the flavor and sodium in your veggie juice!
Smoothies are very tricky. Most restaurants and juice bars add artificial sweeteners, honey, sugar and flavorings to smoothies. Some are just syrup and ice. Be sure to ask what the ingredients are in a smoothie when ordering one. Your best bet is to make your own NutriBlasts. All you really need is skim milk and frozen fruit! You can combine any of your favorite fruits without added sugar!
We have so many ideas here to help you get creative!
Milk does body good! ...right? Well, the jury is still out on that one. We've included milk on our Top 4 List of Most Controversial Foods. There are, however, some studies that show milk assists with weight loss - specifically abdominal weight loss. Consumption of skim milk, low fat milk and other low fat dairy foods tend to result in greater amounts of weight loss. This does not include whole milk products which contain high levels of saturated fat and a lot of calories. Non-fat/low sugar yogurt, non fat Greek yogurt and low fat cheeses are also beneficial to weight loss. Skim and low fat milk products also contribute to your total hydration status.
I add non fat milk or Greek yogurt to almost all of my NutriBlasts to ensure adequate intake of calcium, protein, and complex carbohydrates.
Most sports and energy drinks are calorically and nutritionally similar to soda. They have some added electrolytes, but you could find those in other whole foods which are not processed, such as bananas, spinach and strawberries. Water is the best way to stay hydrated.
Like dairy, coffee also landed a spot on our list of Top 4 Most Controversial Foods. But coffee, in moderation, can be good for you! It is low in calories and rich in antioxidants. Studies have shown that consuming about 1-2 cups of coffee per day can improve mood, memory, concentration, and improve type 2 diabetes symptoms and even prevent certain types of cancer. Beware, however, that by adding flavored syrups, creamers, sugar and whipped cream, you now have the equivalent of an ice cream sundae!
Green tea is also rich in antioxidants and research suggests green tea has positive benefits in regards to metabolism and weight loss. More needs to be studied and understood on why this is true, but if you enjoy green tea, it’s good news! Like coffee, it is low in calories and hydrating!
Alcohol is tricky. Meeting for drinks is a fun and social part of life. You don’t necessarily need to give that up to lose weight; you do, however, need to be knowledgeable of what to order and what to steer clear of. Alcohol can be dehydrating, so make sure to order your cocktail along with a large glass of water and alternate. Make sure you show up to happy hour well-hydrated and have a healthy snack on hand.
Red wine and dark beer both have positive health properties (resveratrol and antioxidants). Dark beer is higher in calories, but because of it’s rich and filling consistency, you will not need more than one! Frozen and creamy drinks, such as pina coladas, white Russians, and Irish coffees can run up to 800 calories, mostly from fat and sugar. Alcohol serves as a fat storage enhancer so consuming fat, sugar and alcohol together is a dangerous weight control combination. Moderation is the key here.
Save happy hour for special occasions; don't make it the norm and you will be able to keep your weight loss goals in sight!