Many people’s fitness resolutions are underway, and if you’re thinking about ways to cut back on calories and sugar, experts say it’s time to reconsider what we’re drinking.
“A lot of the time when you think you’re hungry, you’re actually just really thirsty. So I always recommend people try to keep as much water near by as they can to help prevent overeating,” says Abbey Sharp, a Toronto-based registered dietitian and blogger at Abbey’s Kitchen.
“One study found that when people drank two cups of water before a meal they consumed fewer calories at the meal.”
Water is also important to help fuel your workouts, so if you’re dehydrated, she says, you may find yourself feeling more sluggish in the gym and not optimizing your calorie-torching potential.
Figuring out how much water you should drink in a day also depends on your lifestyle, but many experts agree with the eight-cup rule.
And while there are obvious drinks to cut back on, such as pop and alcohol, Sharp says this doesn’t mean you can’t find tasty replacements.
“I love doing sparkling water with a small splash of juice and few shakes of bitters,” she says. “Kombucha is also delicious, low in calories and sugar and high in probiotics, so this is a great option for replacing traditional cocktails. I also like doing unsweetened coconut water with a little lime or fresh squeezed ginger juice.”
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Below, Sharp shares a list of other beverages that are often loaded with sugar. If your goals this year include staying in shape, she recommends you cut back on these drinks.
Blended or specialty coffee drinks
These are more like dessert than a drink, with some packing about 67 grams sugar, she says.
Sports drinks are usually unnecessary for most people, and some brands pack about 50 grams of sugar per bottle.
Don’t be fooled by a beverage that has “water” in the label, Sharp says. “The sweetened variety packs [of flavoured water] have 30 grams sugar plus food dyes and other additives.”
If you’re making a smoothie at home, chances are it will be pretty healthy, but if you’re buying it, you could be consuming loads of sugar.
“Fruit smoothies that you buy at the store are often made with sweetened frozen yogurt, so they’re closer to a milkshake than a healthy breakfast or snack. A lot of them have as much as 60 grams sugar, hundreds of calories and not a lot of satiating fibre.”
Hot chocolate is comforting during the winter, but it’s also equivalent of a dessert with about 400 calories and 45 grams sugar, Sharp says.
Thought iced tea was better than pop? Think again. “It is not much better than pop with about 30 grams sugar per serving. You can easily brew your own unsweetened version at home by steeping your favourite tea and adding some fresh squeezed lemon.”
Sweetened coconut water
“It is easy to accidentally buy coconut water when you’re trying to hop on a health trend, but the sweetened variety has about 30 grams of sugar per serving.” Sharp says try unsweetened coconut water or just regular water.
Energy drinks have been shown to raise your blood pressure and stress hormones, plus they pack 25 grams of sugar per cup.
Sweetened yogurt drinks
They may have a “health halo” because of the yogurt, Sharp says, but they often are marketed towards children and have 25 grams sugar in a small bottle. “You’re much better off eating plain yogurt and adding your favourite berries and fruits, to taste.”