What America Drinks
When most people plan on improving their diet or losing weight, their focus is primarily on food and what’s on their plate. However, it’s important to remember what’s in your glass — meaning, what you drink — and the contribution beverages have on overall calories. When it comes to your diet, do you think about what you drink?
The consumption of sugar sweetened beverages, especially carbonated soft drinks, has increased 135 percent in the U.S. between 1997 and 2001. Sugary fruit juices with little to no real fruit juice, sodas, and sports drinks, rank high on the consumption list and are thought to contribute to today’s current obesity epidemic. Surprisingly, Americans drink an average of 800 calories per day with soft drinks being the top calorie culprit!
Let’s say you drink one 12 oz. can of soda every day, which is about 150 calories. Without reducing calories from other sources or burning it off with exercise, that additional 150 calories a day could add up to a weight gain of 15 lbs. a year! What is most detrimental is the fact that those calories are “empty” calories, as there is little to no nutrients in soda. You get no benefit in return for those calories.
So you can see that it's important to choose beverages that provide the most nutrition for the calories you are going to consume. For example, 12 oz. of skim milk has 120 calories, which is less than soda, AND you get good nutritional bang for those calories. Skim milk has protein and a variety of vitamins and important minerals such as calcium, phosphorous and magnesium. You could satisfy almost half of your daily calcium needs with a 12 oz. serving of milk. One-hundred percent juices provide a bit more calories for an equal serving size (around 165 calories) but you’re likely getting some vitamins, also making it a better choice than soda.
Evaluating your beverage choice is key in developing a successful diet plan, especially if your beverages are high-sugar/high-calorie drinks which contain little nutrients. You’d be surprised at how replacing these beverages can pay off in the long run, whether your nutrition goal is to lose weight or develop healthier eating habits. So along with the foods you eat, think about your drink!
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