Working To Lose Weight? Watch For Hidden Calories In What You Drink

By the year 2015 – an all too short 7 years from now – three quarters of U.S. adults are projected to be overweight or obese.

Beyond an issue of physical looks, obesity brings risks of many health dangers, problems that will only get bigger as more and more of us do.

Of course our obesity epidemic is hardly surprising when you realize that we Americans take in from 150-300 more calories than we did just 30 years ago.

There are many reasons for this – Fast foods, processed and prepared meals, ever increasing portion sizes, too many bad fats and too few good ones, not to mention an impressive and always expanding selection of calorie laden drinks.

Our modern tastes have become accustomed to liquid calories like coffee drinks, smoothies, energy drinks and vitamin waters are everywhere.

The trouble is that all those liquid calories aren’t so easy to keep track of, and they add up quickly.

A brand new study out of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health points out that cutting liquid calories helps people lose weight, and more importantly, keep it off. In fact their study suggests that, when it comes to weight loss, what you drink may be even more important than any solid food you eat.

“Both liquid and solid calories were associated with weight change, however, only a reduction in liquid calorie intake was shown to significantly affect weight loss during the 6-month follow up,” explains Benjamin Caballero MD, PhD, senior author of the study and a professor at the Bloomberg School’s Department of International Health.

“A reduction in liquid calorie intake was associated with a weight loss of 0.25 kg at 6 months and 0.24 kg at 18 months. Among sugar-sweetened beverages, a reduction of 1 serving was associated with a weight loss of 0.5 kg at 6 months and 0.7 kg at 18 months. Of the seven types of beverages examined, sugar-sweetened beverages were the only beverages significantly associated with weight change.”

The results of even a small change can be startlingly effective.

In a recent CNN report, experts suggest that by cutting 150 calories (the liquid ones) from your intake each day, you’d drop an estimated 15 pounds over the course of a year.

Liquid calories just aren’t as satisfying as solid food, and many of the liquids we drink without thinking today lack any nutritional value.

These drinks, however tasty, just don’t fill you up like a solid food will. Experts do understand that the mechanism of drinking calories, not having to chew or take steps to prepare as you would with a solid food meal, help these calories slide under the counting radar, unnoticed.

Removing the calories that offer the least amount of nutrition will help in your efforts to lose weight. Cut the least satisfying, and least nutritious calories first, then move on.

When reading your drink labels, the most important thing to look at is calorie count – forget the list of ingredients for now. A can of non-diet soda can have from 160-180 calories in it, whether it’s been sweetened with high fructose corn syrup or something else.

All sweeteners have about four calories per gram, which makes the calorie value the same no matter which one is listed on the label.

Wondering about the calorie count in some common:

- Enhanced water: 125 calories
- Fruit smoothie: 250 calories
- Sweetened tea: 210 calories
- Fruit juice: 190 calories

You see that even so-called healthy drinks that are thought to be a better option for weight loss can bring along extra calories as well.

Continues below…


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Working To Lose Weight? Watch For Hidden Calories In What You Drink continued

In the end, it’s the number of calories, whether solid or liquid form, that really counts.

So, if you’re working to lose weight, your best drink choice is to move more towards zero calorie, all natural water.

But if you can’t make the switch to less sugared drinks right away, mix sugared water in equal parts until you get used to a less sweet taste.

Sometimes drinking these beverages super cold, over lots of ice helps as well. You might also try gradually introducing unsweetened varieties into your daily intake – Maybe a single serving a day for a week.

Another option? Try seltzer over ice with a lemon or lime for a great tasting carbonated drink that’s very refreshing and low calorie too.

To your good health,

Kirsten Whittaker
Daily Health Bulletin Editor