the fitness journal
You Are What You Eat – and What You Drink
There is so much information out there about how to keep a healthy diet but there’s one key point that many people forget – you are what you drink as well as what you eat.
While diet plans usually just tell you to cut out alcohol, they don’t acknowledge the negative impact of other liquid calories. Not all your calories come in the form of food. Often my clients struggle to drop weight not from the food they eat but because of the drinks they drink.
The calories in your drinks will have a big impact on your overall results. It is surprisingly easy to overdo your daily calories with a few high calorie drinks, and it’s also easy to shift your habits to remove the bad guys from your liquid diet.
When considering the number of calories in your drinks, don’t just think about fizzy drinks. Some of the biggest culprits are fruit juices, smoothies and coffee. Even some diet drinks are not half as healthy as they claim to be.
Liquid calories are sneaky and that extra glass of wine or even a large glass of orange juice to start the day can make all the difference. Furthermore, as we don’t generally think of liquid calories in the same context as food calories, we therefore won’t compensate for the extra. For example, if you drink a large coffee with whole milk, you should cut back calories elsewhere in your daily intake in the same way that you would for a chocolate bar or other foodie treat.
An argument I often hear in regards to certain drinks is that the sugars are natural. Whether the sugars are natural are not has no impact on it’s the effects on your body. And whether the calories are coming from fruit juice or Coca-Cola is basically irrelevant - if your total calorie intake is increased then your results will suffer.
Here are just some of the calorie counts for popular drinks in a standard 12 ounce serving:
Diet soda: 0-7
Tea, unsweetened: 4
Orange juice, unsweetened: 157-168
Cranberry juice cocktail: 205
Whole milk: 220
2% low-fat milk: 183
Nonfat (skimmed) milk: 125
Soy milk: 147-191
Black coffee: 0-4
Latte with whole milk: 122
Latte with skim (fat-free) milk: 69
Sports drink: 94
Energy drink: 105-112
Red wine: 125
Some of these calorie counts might surprise you and it just goes to show how calories can easily creep up depending on what you choose to drink. Liquid calories are also more easily absorbed and don’t increase satiety, often contributing to an increased overall calorie intake. This is in part because the mechanisms controlling hunger and thirst are very different.
My top tip on how to keep the calories from liquid down is to be mindful, be aware and keep things in moderation. If you are thirsty, drink water.
You can also take steps towards adjusting your calorie intake from drinks. If you can’t do without a milky coffee or tea, switch gradually from whole milk down to the skimmed alternative. Hot water with a slice of lemon or cold water infused with cucumber are refreshing alternatives to keep things interesting. Remember, as liquid calories don’t give that feeling of satiety, cutting them out is far easier than you might think.