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Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Beware of Liquid Calories

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A pitcher of fresh-made lemonade.We all know the importance of watching the calories we eat, but have you ever stopped to consider the calories you drink? Liquid calories can add up quickly and oftentimes they don’t contribute any nutritional benefits (especially if you don’t pay attention to them). Below are some of the most common sources of liquid calories and suggestions to modify your choices in a healthy way.

1. Store-Bought Lemonade

Store-bought lemonade has TONS of excess sugar and may not even be made with real lemons! For a healthier, satisfying thirst quencher, try infused water. Squeeze your own lemon in water or add cucumber and mint for a refreshing drink.

2. Cocktails

Do not be tempted by the fancy frozen drinks on the menu—usually anything with a paper umbrella in it is loaded with sugar and not a good choice! Instead, order a light beer or a glass of wine, which have both been shown to help protect against heart disease in moderate amounts.

3. Blended Coffee Drinks

Looking for your afternoon pick-me-up? Stay clear of frozen, coffee blended drinks—you will most likely get a sugar rush resulting in a subsequent energy crash. Try iced green tea, which still has caffeine and many more nutritional benefits. Still need your coffee? That’s ok; just opt for an iced coffee with skim milk to cut calories.

4. Clear Sodas

Many people believe clear liquids mean fewer calories. Don’t be fooled by this myth! Let’s think about this—there are many sodas that are clear but loaded with sugar. For a truly clear AND healthy drink, pick up some seltzer and squeeze a slice of lemon, lime, or orange for a guilt-free, fruity drink.

5. Smoothies

I love smoothies, but you need to know what you’re getting. Order the small and make sure it’s made with real fruit and not a pile of sugar with a little fruit flavoring added. Want a good nutritional bargain? Check out Jamba Juice’s new fruit and veggie smoothies with three combined servings of fruits/veggies and between 180-230 calories each.

While it’s extremely important to stay well hydrated (and water is always the best choice), you’re allowed to have a liquid treat every once in a while. So now that you are aware of the most common sources of liquid calories, the next time you want an afternoon coffee or a happy hour drink you can make the best choices for your body without consuming unnecessary extra calories. 

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Tags: Healthy Eating , Hydration

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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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