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Dietitians Dish: Think before you drink

By By Elizabeth Sommerfeld
Feb. 11, 2014 at midnight
Updated Feb. 10, 2014 at 8:11 p.m.


Oftentimes, when we think of counting calories, we think about food. But have you ever thought about what you drink? Liquid calories can be a huge source of caloric intake in people who aren't really aware of how much they are taking in. Here are some drink breakdowns based on one cup (8 fluid ounces), but remember, not all packaged products are 8 ounces. Some may be more.

Fat-free milk = 90 calories, 12.5 g sugar

Whole milk = 150 calories, 12 g sugar

Orange juice = 112 calories, 21 g sugar

Monster energy drink = 110 calories, 25 g sugar

Red Bull = 106 calories, 26 g sugar

Gatorade = 55 calories, 14 g sugar

Coke = 93 calories, 26 g sugar

Beer = 100 calories, 0 g sugar

As you can see, calories and grams of sugar can add up easily. Many people drink anywhere from two to three sodas a day (at average 12-ounce can) which can equal 280-420 calories and 80-120 grams of sugar in one day.

In contrast, a Big Gulp (28-ounce soda plus 4 ounces of ice) can be 354 calories and 91 grams of sugar all by itself, and I've known people to drink more than one of these per day.

Oftentimes, when people come to me for weight loss advice, one of the first questions I will ask is what you are drinking. A simple change in fluid intake can result in dramatic weight loss. A pound of weight is equal to 3,500 calories.

Therefore, if you cut an average of 500 calories per day, you could potentially lose about one pound per week. Now, keep in mind this is math and hard numbers. Our bodies don't always listen to what they should do, so your weight loss may be different.

But, if a person is drinking 8 ounces of juice in the morning and two to three sodas a day, they can potentially cut out 392-532 calories per day, which could result in a pound of weight loss per week, without doing anything else.

So what is a person supposed to drink if you take away sodas and juice? Well, decaffeinated tea or coffee (unsweetened) is an option as well as plain old water.

If you need to spruce up your water, consider infusing your water with cucumbers, lemon, melons, etc.

If you don't know what to put in it, there is a whole website dedicated to these recipes at infusedwaterrecipes.com, consider checking it out.

Elizabeth Sommerfeld, MS, RDN, LDN is a registered dietitian nutritionist and bariatric coordinator at DeTar Healthcare System. Send questions or comments to dietitians@vicad.com.

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