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Sipping Sabotage

Sipping Sabotage

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

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.

Energy Drinks

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 cause dehydration!

Sweetened Drinks

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:

  • Sugar
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Corn syrup
  • Fruit juice concentrates
  • Honey
  • Syrup
  • Sucrose
  • Dextrose.

Healthier Choices

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 Services at (985) 230-6548.