What you’re sipping may be sabotaging your efforts to maintain a
healthy weight. The extra calories and additives in zero- to high-calorie
sodas, flavored waters and sports and energy drinks could be doing you
more harm than good. Understanding what’s in your drink will help
you make better choices.
Sports drinks are designed to replace the water and electrolytes that are
lost by sweating during vigorous exercise and activity. Most everyday
exercise routines do not require this type of replenishment. Sports drinks
are best avoided for mealtimes and daily hydration because they contain
extra calories and sugars that can sabotage weight loss efforts. Sports
drinks also can cause tooth decay in children.
Most experts agree that energy drinks are best avoided. They are loaded
with stimulants that can elevate your blood pressure and heart rate to
dangerous levels. Energy drinks contain high levels of caffeine—some
as much as 500 mg per serving, which is the amount of caffeine in 14 cans
of cola! While tolerance for caffeine and its effects vary from person
to person, most physicians agree that daily caffeine intake should not
be more than 200 mg.
Of particular concern is the growing use of energy drinks among children
and young adults. In adolescents, caffeine can cause anxiety and problems
with sleeping and digestion. Many young people confuse energy drinks with
sports drinks and think they are rehydrating themselves. The opposite
is actually true: the unhealthy levels of caffeine in these drinks can
Sweetened drinks add extra calories to your diet. Sugar and other sweeteners
are common in colas and other sodas, fruit punch, fruit juices, lemonade,
sweet tea and sports drinks. Substituting zero- or low-calorie drinks
for sugar-laden beverages can significantly reduce your calorie intake.
Know Your Nutrition Labels
Nutrition labels will help you know if a drink is sweetened or unsweetened.
Rest assured that the drink is sweetened if you see any of the following
on the label:
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Corn syrup
- Fruit juice concentrates
Hands down, your healthiest drink option is water. It’s recommended
you drink six to eight glasses every day. Try these tricks to add some
zip to your water without adding too many calories:
- Add a slice of lemon, lime or even orange for a citrus zing.
- Try sparkling water with natural lemon flavor (non-sweetened).
- Add a splash of fruit juice for flavor.
Other low- or zero-calorie options include:
- Unsweetened tea
- Low-calorie sodas
- Fat-free or 1 percent milk
The bottom line is to drink smart. Sweetened drinks add lots of calories to your diet, but have no nutritional
value. Read the labels on your beverages, choose lower-calorie options
and treat yourself to that favorite drink only now and then. For more
help, speak with a Registered Dietitian or call North Oaks Nutritional