Everyone enjoys an ice cold can of fizzy pop on a hot summers day, a hot brew on a cold morning or fruit juice our breakfast.
Yet how do these drinks affect us when we are watching what we eat? So, while we are eating healthy, home-made meals we may not notice that we are drinking our way through the same number of calories as a bar of chocolate or big bag of crisps.
Think how easy it is to enjoy a fizzy drink, fruit juice or a milkshake alongside your meal. It doesn't cause you to eat any less than if you didn't drink them. Yet you are consuming more calories without noticing.
Lots of people enjoy fruit juice with their breakfasts and see it as a great way to get one of your 5-a-day. Yet most people do not know that it is recommended to limit your fruit juice intake to 150ml a day. That is just over quarter of a pint. Do you only drink a quarter of a pint of fruit juice?
Even this small amount of fruit juice can still contain a huge 15g of sugar. (See why sugar is bad here)
Fruit juice is made up of all the fruit juices without the fibre. Fibre is the part that makes us feel full. This means that we could easily drink the juice (and sugar) from 5 apples, yet if we were to eat five apples we would probably be full after a couple.
Fruit juice should definitely not replace eating whole fruits. It is not necessarily bad for you but it must be limited as it is high in sugar and drinking it regularly has been linked to type 2 diabetes, as it rapidly raises blood sugar levels.
Smoothies are a better alternative as the whole fruit is used, so the fibre is still included. However, they can still end up containing a high number of calories.
Fizzy drinks are well known for being full of sugar and being unhealthy. However, there are usually diet version available. These diet versions have less sugar and less calories. So ideally if you are having a fizzy drink we should have a diet version.
There is however, a lot of controversy about whether diet fizzy drinks are any better for us than normal fizzy drinks. Either way we want to limit the amount of fizzy drinks we consume.
Without knowing it many people can consume excess calories while just drinking hot drinks. I mean I'm not saying we drink 2 pepperoni pizza's worth of tea and coffee, but if you are struggling to lose weight it could be something to watch.
If you regularly have a hot drink with a couple of spoons of sugar and some milk then undoubtedly you are adding unnecessary calories to your diet.
What is worse is that we also associate having a biscuit or two with a cuppa. Not great for the beach body.
3-4 coffees with milk and sugar equals 1 mars bar.
If you regularly have 8 cups of coffee or tea a this could be the equivalent of 2 mars bars. Now here is another question, if you were watching your weight and you were doing well (your losing weight or staying the same), would you rather have 4 cups of tea of would you rather have a chocolate bar to treat yourself? Or could you give up all 8 cups of coffee a day and enjoy a couple of treats every single day?
Again, there is nothing wrong with having hot drinks in moderation. A small change that could make a difference would be to reduce the amount of sugar we put in each cup. This will lower our calories for the day and not cause a sudden spike in our blood sugar which can cause us to store calories as fat.
I think most people understand that alcohol contains lots of calories. Each gram of alcohol contains 7 calories. This is almost as much as fat which contains 9 calories per gram.
A pint of beer can easily contain 200 calories. So, if you go out on a Friday night and have 5 or 6 pints you could easily consume over 1000 calories. Not only the calories from the alcohol but also from the bad food choices you will most likely make that night.
I am not trying to stop everyone from drinking and having a good time but you must be aware of how this can have an effect on your diet. If you have eaten well or trained all week, having a big drink on a weekend could reverse all the hard work you put in.
How we can use Liquid Calories
Liquid Calories are not all bad. The main problem with them is that they are often high in sugar and are additional calories to what we currently eat.
However, they can be useful to people who might be short of time at certain points in the day. If you are rushing out on a morning, being able to have a smoothie can be the answer. Filled with whole fruit, oats, seeds and possibly some milk a smoothie could be the perfect breakfast replacement for those with little time.
Also, since you are drinking it as a meal it is not adding extra calories to your diet. If it can keep you satisfied until lunch time then it is an easy way to get fibre, vitamins, minerals, protein and a nice breakfast all in one. If you end up consuming less calories, having a smoothie rather than a big breakfast could actually help you lose weight.
Now I am not promoting smoothie diets or meal replacements (see my post here), but if it is only for one meal and if it fills you up and contains all the needed nutrients then that’s perfect.
Are Liquid Calories All Bad?
Overall there is nothing that wrong with liquid calories. Yet if we are aiming to lose weight, consuming too many of them can cause us to get stuck. We can easily reduce the number of calories we consume through liquids by reducing the amount we drink them. Or we need to make sure we compensate for the calories we drink by reducing the calories we eat; however, this might not be the best option.
Ideally, we should drink more water since it has many benefits (benefits of drinking water here) and stops us drinking so many high calorie drinks.