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Trying to Lose Weight? Watch What You Drink

Liquid Calories Add Up Quickly

What About Other Drinks?

Soda isn't the only beverage to beware. Tea and coffee by themselves have no calories (though the effects of caffeine are a concern for some), but the add-ons can turn your cup of Joe into a real calorie-fest. For example, a large Starbucks Mocha Coconut Frappuccino with whipped cream adds a whopping 710 calories and 26 grams of fat. Even a tablespoon or two of cream in your morning coffee, along with a packet of sugar, adds up.

And what about alcoholic drinks? It's best to proceed with caution. The average calorie count of a glass of wine or bottle of beer is 100-150 calories, and how often do we stop at one? Even worse, alcoholic beverages can lower your inhibitions and make you more likely to overeat -- especially those salty snacks that are often served with drinks.

Diet sodas are virtually calorie free, yet they contain a list of non-nutritious ingredients including artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners are approved by the FDA, but moderation is the best approach. It's best to limit your intake of diet sodas to a few servings a day.

Skim and low-fat milk and no-sugar-added juices certainly have their place in a healthy diet. These beverages contain a wealth of nutrients needed for health and should be incorporated into your eating plan. But if you're trying to lose weight, don't fall into the trap of sipping them throughout the day. To quench your thirst, stick to water (perhaps dressed up with a bit of juice or citrus) and other no-calorie or very low-calorie beverages, experts say.

Low-Calorie Refreshers?

"Simple is best," says Susan Ayersman, CCN, a nutritionist with the Arizona-based Kronos Optimal Health Co. Water is Ayersman's drink of choice.

"Most people don't drink enough water," she explains, yet we need water to keep our tissues hydrated and help keep our energy up.

If plain water doesn't do it for you, add slices of lemon, lime, or orange for flavor without calories. Or try a sprig of mint for a refreshing change of pace, says Ayersman.

Here are a few other suggestions:

  • Green tea (which also contains potentially cancer-preventing phytonutrients).
  • Seltzer water with just a splash of juice. Orange, grapefruit, cranberry are good choices, but mango, guava, and other tropical juices all add color and just enough sweetness to keep you from reaching for a can of soda.
  • Herbal teas.
  • Flavored (lemon, grapefruit, raspberry, mandarin orange, etc.) seltzers and soda waters.
  • Homemade lemonade -- try lemon, water, and a few drops of stevia, a natural artificial sweetener.

An occasional cappucino, latte, or coffee is fine if you need that Starbucks fix, Ayersman says. But ask for skim milk, and wave bye-bye to the blended coffee drinks, especially the ones with whipped cream toppings.

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Reviewed on June 06, 2005

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