By Dr Megan Chircop
Whether you drink your calories or eat them, your body will process them in a similar manner. The big difference is that people feel much more satisfied and “full” if they eat their calories. Thus, consuming less calories overall during a day.
Do you regularly have a fruit juice at breakfast time, fancy coffee for morning tea, a soft-drink at lunch, an iced tea for afternoon tea and a wine or beer with dinner. If so, you have just consumed more than 1300 calories just in liquid. For some people (small woman) this would be their entire daily caloric intake. What about food? That is extra calories. Hence this person would be consuming well in excess of 2500 calories for the day. For a large man whom is working out regularly perhaps this is ok to maintain his current weight but he would not be overly healthy. It is therefore not surprising that many individuals that have this poor lifestyle habit are overweight or obese. For example, let's say you drink two glasses of 1 percent milk and a glass of orange juice a day, while also averaging one bottle of wine a week. In a year, those liquid calories would total just under 150,000 or about 20 kg of fat!
What are some simple tips and swaps that you can make.
1) Drink more water. Swap your juice and other sports drinks for water. We recommend you drink at least 1.5-2 litres a day for optimal health. Your body is composed of about 60% water. The functions of these bodily fluids include digestion, absorption, circulation, creation of saliva, transportation of nutrients, and maintenance of body temperature.
2) Ditch the juice for a piece of fruit. Sure, you get a few vitamins from juice. But often they're added back in to replace the fruit's original vitamins, which were stripped out during processing—and that goes for the "not from concentrate" juices as well. You'll also be missing out on the vast majority of the actual fruit's fibre and phytonutrients. So opt for an apple rather than an apple juice. In addition, the fibre that you get from the apple will keep you full for a much longer period of time than the juice and in most cases will be less in calories. Alternatively, if you really want a juice. Make your own by using the entire fruit or vegetable. High performance blenders such as the Ninja or Nutri-bullet are great for this.
3) Smoothies – beware! These are super popular in today’s society because they are classed as healthy. And they sometimes can be with the right ingredients and in the right circumstances. For example, some green smoothie consumers put all the vegetables or fruits they eat for their entire day into the smoothie. Without the smoothie, they likely won’t consume any fruits or vegetables. This is a far better replacement than a fast food egg and bacon sandwich for breakfast.
But more often than not a smoothie is not the healthy choice. The energy density of the fruit usually dwarfs the energy density of the greens and these smoothies usually end up being quite high in sugar (>30g). Now consider that by consuming this in the liquid form you may be less satisfied, less full, and subsequently eat more calories during the day than you otherwise would have if you ate those ingredients as solid foods. Also consider that by taking those foods as liquids instead of solids you may be significantly changing the immediate blood sugar spike and subsequent blood sugar fall you experience (in a bad way). So the bottom line is use your mouth and your teeth the way nature intended and put the smoothies aside or have them just as treats.
4) Coffee and tea. Everybody loves a coffee or tea, especially to kick-start the day, and I am no exception. Lighten your coffee and tea with skim milk rather than whole milk. And instead of opting for a fancy coffee, choose a long black with a little bit of milk. And if you really can’t live without sugar, swap the refined sugar or syrup for an alternate sweetener such as stevia.
5) Soft-drink. Drink diet instead of regular. However, I recommend still having this as a treat as the artificial sweeteners in diet soft-drinks cause a blood insulin spike (like sugar). So again, only have occasionally as a treat.
6) Make your own soft-drink. Take a large glass of sparkling water and add in some freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice. This is also a great substitute for a sparkling wine during a celebration or at dinner time. And not to mention almost calorie-free, so drink as much as you like.
7) Alcohol. We recommend limiting your alcohol intake to only a few days per week and on these days no more than 2 standard drinks for men and 1 standard drink for women. You can also choose to have low calorie and/or reduced alcohol versions. But don’t think this gives you a licence to have more.
In summary, for the average person, “don’t drink your calories” is an easy and quick mantra to help them make good nutrition choices. There might be an exception to “don’t drink your calories” if you have already become disciplined in your eating habits, i.e. if you are taking those liquid calories in to account and if you are trying to get more vegetables and fresh fruit in your diet, then drinking your calories is OK.
The Body Sculptors Australia team prides itself on developing nutritious recipes that are absolutely delicious. You will wonder why you have not eaten like this your whole life when food tastes this good. Our mission is to help as many people as possible achieve their ideal healthy, lean and active body to have confidence and happiness in their everyday lives.
If you don’t have time or know how to incorporate your favourite drinks in to your daily plan, let us do the hard work for you.
You might also be interested in the following articles:
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water – the most essential nutrient
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The secret to eating for weight loss
A morning pick-me-up that will burn fat
Treats are not off limits on our fat loss meal plans
Is it ok to eat late at night?
how to beat food cravings?
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