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Are you Drinking Your Calories? Hidden Calories in Everyday Drinks

There’s hidden sugar all around us. One of the easiest places to get sugar is in beverages. After all, unlike when you eat a donut or piece of cake, when you drink a high calorie drink like a coffee with extra cream and sugar, you don’t feel full. Plus, we tend to mentally count calories in foods but not calories in alcohol or calories in coffee drinks. So, it should come as no surprise that sugary drinks like soda, tonic, sweet teas, and sports and energy drinks are the biggest source of added sugar and calories in the U.S. 1

Hidden Calories in Everyday Drinks

Many people don’t realize how much sugar they are getting as they casually sip on an iced tea or flavored latte. Calories in coffee drinks can be much higher than calories in soda.2 Studies show that half of the U.S. population drinks sugary beverages daily. In fact, 25 percent get at least 200 calories from these drinks, and 5 percent gets at least 567 calories per day. Dietary recommendations say we should get a maximum of 10 percent of calories from sugar, so we are far exceeding these recommendations by consuming high calorie drinks.

These beverages contain lots of calories but zero nutritional value. Empty calories equal weight gain. To put things in perspective, if you added just one cola or other high calorie drink to your diet each day for an extra 150 soda calories, you would gain about five pounds in one year. Besides causing you to gain weight, consuming sugar in drinks raises your risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic conditions, which increases risk of premature death. 4

Everyday beverages with hidden calories

Here are some of the most popular high calorie drinks:

  • Sweet, carbonated drinks (sodas) and mineral water
  • Fruit juice
  • Coffee with added sugar and syrups
  • Specialty coffee drinks
  • Chocolate and other flavored milks
  • Sports drinks
  • Commercially produced smoothies
  • Alcoholic drinks, especially pre-mixed drinks

Some of the beverages listed above contain lower amounts of sugar than others. For example, the calories in alcohols that aren’t sweetened with added sugar, such as red wine, unflavored vodkas, and light beer, are lower than calories in sweetened alcoholic drinks. Fruit and vegetable juices without added sugar—100 percent fruit or vegetable juice—are ok to drink now and then, too.

Healthy alternatives to soda and other high calorie drinks

The best thing to drink is plain old H2O. Water is hydrating, good for your health, and calorie-free. Not everyone enjoys drinking water, however. Here are some alternative beverages:

  • Sparkling water, plain or flavored
  • Plain tea or coffee, hot or iced
  • Water flavored with lemon, lime, orange, or fresh herbs
  • Kombucha or fermented tea (check the sugar content)
  • Freshly squeezed orange juice
  • Juiced carrots, kale, beets, and other veggies
  • Coconut water 5

If you’re following a weight loss eating plan and hitting the Curves Circuit regularly, the last thing you want to do is sabotage your efforts by overdoing sugar in drinks. Cutting calories in coffee beverages, sweet teas, and other high-calorie drinks is one of the easiest changes you can make to jump start your weight loss plan.

Curves Nourish

Check out Curves Nourish blog  for more health and wellbeing insights like these that can help you lead a happier and healthier life.

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  1. Sugary Drinks | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  2. The Unhealthiest Coffee Drinks in America — Eat This Not That
  3. Rethink Sugary Drinks
  4. Sugary Drinks | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  5. Sugary Drinks | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  6. Healthy Alternatives to Sugary Beverages (sdstate.edu)
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