All Entries For drinks

You Asked: Do Drinks Like Coffee, Tea or Diet Soda Count toward My Daily Water Quota?

A few decades ago, Americans consumed less than 10% of their daily calories in the form of drinks, but today we get 21% of our calories from beverages. For someone eating 2,000 calories a day, that's 420 calories a day in the form of drinks!
When you're trying to lose weight, you have fewer calories in your "budget" each day, which means you need to make all of them count. Those "empty" calories from sugary beverages are an easy place to cut back.
That said, one of the most common questions new SparkPeople members have is "Do drinks like coffee, tea or diet soda count toward my daily water quota?"
SparkPeople recommends eight to twelve cups of water daily, but for some people, drinking that much water can be difficult. Fruit juices, milk, teas and decaf coffee also count, as do flavored (unsweetened) waters, carbonated water, and water with fruit or herbs. So, yes, you can drink beverages other than water to meet your hydration needs, but there are a few things to consider before you start sipping.
Caffeinated beverages can actually increase your need for more water and dehydrate the body (caffeine is a diuretic) so a lot of caffeinated coffee or soda will not quench your thirst.
Artificially sweetened drinks, including diet sodas, can also count toward your quota. However, we recommend no more than four servings (32 ounces) of artificially sweetened beverages daily.
If you struggle to control your sweet tooth, you might want to avoid diet drinks. Preliminary studies suggest that high intakes of artificial sweeteners might affect appetite control (i.e. by eating more sweet foods—artificially sweetened or not—you crave more of them). Individuals who want to use artificial sweeteners should do so within the context of a sensible weight-management program that includes a balanced diet and regular exercise.
My personal opinion, particularly for people trying to lose weight, is to drink plain water whenever possible. I feel it helps to cleanse the body when weight loss and fat breakdown is occurring. I also know that it helps to keep the hands and mouth busy, to reduce the urge to snack. This is a form of behavior modification that can help break old habits (such as mindless eating) and replace them with ones (drinking water when boredom hits). Most people report feeling better when they consume at least a few glasses of plain old H2O each day. If you're going to consume caffeinated beverages or diet drinks, consume as much or more water to balance them out.
Other caloric beverages, such as juice, sports drinks, and milk, can be part of a healthy diet. SparkPeople uses the guidelines set by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which were developed by the Beverage Guidance Panel in 2006. The experts on that panel stressed that a healthy diet should NOT rely on fluids to provide calorie or nutrient needs, and that water is necessary for metabolism and normal physiological function. In fact, water is the only fluid that the body truly needs.
Posted 8/7/2012  12:00:00 AM By: Becky Hand : 12 comments   21,699 views
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Poll: Do You Drink Hot Beverages to Cool Off?

On a hot day, most people like to have a cold beverage to help cool down. However, some like to drink hot tea or other hot beverages to help cool down. Yes, you read that right, they drink hot beverages to cool down, but that seems counterintuitive, doesn't it? Joe Palca from NPR recently looked into this and spoke with neuroscientist, Peter McNaughton, to find out why you might want to drink a hot beverage on a hot day to cool off. The bottom line of what he found is that we have a lot of TRPV1 receptors on our tongue that respond to heat, so when we drink a hot beverage, our brain alerts our body to sweat, therefore cooling the body off.
Posted 7/19/2012  6:00:00 AM By: Denise Tausig : 47 comments   14,820 views
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You Asked: Do I Really Need to Drink 8 Cups of Water Each Day for Health and Weight Loss?

You've probably heard from lots of sources (including SparkPeople) that adults should drink eight (8-ounce) cups of water each day. But you might be surprised to know that there is no scientific evidence that supports this general advice. In fact, most experts aren't even sure exactly where that recommendation came from. One source of this myth might be a 1945 article from the National Research Council, part of the National Academy of Sciences, which noted that a "suitable allowance" of water for adults is 2.5 liters a day, although much of that already comes from water in the foods that you eat.
So why does SparkPeople emphasize water drinking? Here are a few reasons:
Posted 6/12/2012  12:00:00 AM By: Becky Hand : 9 comments   32,317 views
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Smarter Sips: Try These Low-Cal Beverages for Summer

These days you're more likely to buy a powdered mix, gel, or bottle of flavored tea or lemonade, but these classic drinks are easy to make and a great way to stay hydrated in the summer months.
And though commercial versions can be loaded with sugar and other sweeteners, these drinks can be quite low in calories.
Let's compare some common summer drinks:
Posted 6/4/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Meg Galvin : 18 comments   23,184 views
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CONTEST CLOSED: Giveaway: Gut-Friendly Probiotic Drinks from GoodBelly

Contest closed! The winner is:



If you suffer from tummy troubles, you may have heard that eating yogurt will help get your digestive system back in shape. However, yogurt isn't the answer for everyone. If you are lactose intolerant, vegan, or just don't like the taste of dairy, you could be missing out on some major gut-friendly probiotic cultures. But don't worry! There is another way to treat your belly right without the dairy: Enter GoodBelly, a dairy-free probiotic juice drink that promotes healthy digestion.
Posted 5/25/2012  6:00:00 PM By: Melinda Hershey : 21 comments   9,541 views
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Food Showdown: Battle of the Blended Beverages

As the weather warms up, you might take refuge in smoothie shops and coffee houses to cool down. Starbucks has long been a go-to destination for sippable summertime treats, and the chain has come out with some healthier options in recent years. However, some are better for you than others; many of the frozen drinks that are marketed as ''healthy'' are simply glorified milkshakes, even before the whipped cream and extra syrups.

If you were to grab a frozen drink on a hot summer day, which Starbucks pick would be lowest in calories and sugar: the Grande Green Tea Frappuccino® Blended Crème (no whipped cream), made with sweetened green tea and 2% milk, or the Grande Chocolate Smoothie (no whipped cream), made with rich mocha sauce, banana, and 2% milk?
Posted 5/19/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Melinda Hershey : 49 comments   36,373 views
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A Dietitian's Take on 5-Hour Energy Drinks

(Photo credit: Flickr)

The break room was set up with my presentation displayed on the large white wall, handouts neatly stacked on a corner table.  The alarm sounded and 100 assembly line workers hustled into the room.  They each grabbed a packed lunch, found a seat, and prepared to devour their meal along with the ''lunch and learn'' topic of the day.  Exactly 22 minutes later, they were all out the door and back to work.  This scenario took place five times throughout the day to assure that all shifts received the same information. 

These are not the folks who live a sedentary nine to five lifestyle, pushing pencils and attached to a computer screen.  Rather, these folks are working very early mornings and graveyard shifts…lifting, toting, screwing, wiring, welding, and painting.  This work forces the body to develop an unnatural alarm clock, accompanied by many missed family functions and numerous stress-related health complications.  These folks are trying to make ends meet, feed the family, and pray daily that their line doesn’t get moved out of the country. 

As I talked with these men and women about feeding their families healthy foods, the question that surfaced again and again each and every shift was: ''Hey Becky, What do you think about the 5-Hour Energy Drink?''
Posted 5/10/2012  2:00:00 PM By: Becky Hand : 68 comments   75,305 views
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Feeling a Little Down? This Drink Might Help!

One of the biggest changes I’ve made to my diet over the years was to increase the amount of water I drink.  When I started working for SparkPeople over 7 years ago, I probably drank about 2 glasses of liquid a day (outside of exercise).  I’d have a glass of orange juice for breakfast and a glass of milk for dinner, and that’s about it.  Being surrounded by people who drank water throughout the day made me more conscious of how much I was having and the fact that I probably needed to be drinking a little more.
As soon as I started drinking more, I noticed a difference in my energy level and my mood.  I felt better overall.  I’m not saying that everyone needs to start chugging the H2O, but in my case, I think I was probably dehydrated most of the time.  New research shows that not drinking enough could be affecting your mood and cognitive abilities. 
Posted 2/14/2012  10:00:00 AM By: Jen Mueller : 27 comments   12,022 views
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My Resolution: Kicking My Caffeine Addiction in 2012

Since I was a teenager, caffeine and I have had a tumultuous relationship. (I'm not the only one.)

I started taking caffeine pills and drinking coffee (bottled Frappucinos, mostly) at 16. An overachiever, I was suffering from an eating disorder, and the caffeine helped keep me energized when I wasn't eating. I was also mourning the loss of a close friend, who had died in a car accident. The caffeine pills kept me from having to deal with my grief, as I never sat still or had time to think.

Some of my friends knew about my habit, and many of them partook in the pills as well. We didn't think there was anything wrong with them.

It took me over a year to realize the damage I was doing to my body. After I passed out for the second time, I decided to give them up. I collapsed as I walked out of AP English. My heart was beating way too fast, my vision went blurry, and the world faded to black.

My doctor diagnosed me as having anxiety attacks, which was only half the story. I realized I needed to cut back, both on caffeine and in life. I prioritized, quit a couple of activities, and swore off the pills.

In college, I pulled all-nighters fueled by coffee, soda, chocolate-covered espresso beans. You name it, I drank it to stay awake during not only late nights spent studying but also spent laying out and editing the college paper.

Not surprisingly, the anxiety continued.

My first real job was on the news copy desk at a large metro daily. I worked 4 p.m. to midnight five nights a week and sometimes worked 5:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. I drank diet soda like it was my job, and when I went to the bar after work (the only place to socialize after work when you work second shift), I opted for rum and diet cola, which aggravated my anxiety. The work was mentally challenging, and the tight deadlines made it quite exciting but stressful at times. My panic and anxiety worsened.

Throughout the next few years, I continued to combine anxiety medication and caffeine. I didn't connect the two until just a couple of years ago. I swore off coffee and, coupled with some other major life changes, my anxiety dissipated.
Posted 12/21/2011  2:00:00 PM By: Stepfanie Romine : 62 comments   14,475 views
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Drink In Some Facts about Alcohol and Your Health

For me, one of the hardest things about "dieting" is giving up my beloved beer. While I am trying to watch my calorie intake, a typical beer just isn't worth the investment.
This past weekend I tried the Bud Select 55 after hearing each can had just 55 calories. I should be drummed out of the beer drinkers association. This stuff tastes more like beer-flavored water than honest-to-goodness beer.
Michelob Ultra, at 95 calories, is slightly better tasting, but neither beer has proved satisfying for me.
I found some satisfaction in a vodka and diet tonic with lime. But booze doesn't make me feel very good the next day, so I guess I'll simply cut back altogether.

My research into the nutritional content of beers and booze got me wondering if there is any real benefit to drinking alcohol. (And are there any Diet-Friendly Alcohol Choices?) So belly up to the bar and take this little quiz prepared by my longtime friend, dietitian Susan Burke March. While you're at it, let me ask: How Many Calories Are You Drinking?

The answers to these 10 true-or-false statements may surprise you. Cheers!

Posted 10/12/2011  6:00:00 PM By: John McGran : 18 comments   13,526 views
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1 In 4 Teens Drink Soda Daily, Says CDC

About one in four teens in the U.S. drink soda every day, according to a new study of high-schoolers released this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Even though water, milk and 100-percent fruit juice reigned supreme in the study, 24.3 percent of high school students said they drink a serving (a can, bottle or glass) of soda every day.  Government researchers, who looked at more than 11,000 high-schoolers, also found that 16 percent of students drink a serving of a sports drink every day. Boys were more likely than girls to report drinking soda every day, and African American teens more likely than white or Hispanic teens. Sugar-sweetened beverages like soda and sports drinks can lead to obesity, Type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome, researchers note.

Posted 7/27/2011  6:00:00 AM By: SparkPeople Guest Blogger : 8 comments   7,039 views
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Are Food Labels Lying to You? New Corn Syrup Study Suggests Yes

A new study about beverages sweetened with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is making headlines. Published in the journal Obesity (see the full article here), researchers found that random samples of HFCS-sweetened drinks actually contained far more fructose than expected.

"I told you so," is what all the opponents of the corn-based sweetener are saying, using this study as proof that corn syrup is worse than sugar and should be avoided. I was taken aback myself. While I don't believe that high fructose corn syrup is any worse for us than other types of sugar, I avoid it sometimes but won't shun every food made with it. (After all, I would be very cranky without the occasional HFCS-containing Twizzler in my life.)

While this study seems to be about corn syrup being worse for us than we thought, it's actually about something else entirely: whether food manufacturers are telling us the truth about what's in their products. Allow me to explain.
Posted 10/29/2010  5:00:00 AM By: Nicole Nichols : 46 comments   16,222 views
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A Magical Beverage That's Proven to Suppress Your Appetite

What if I told you there is something you can drink that is easily accessible, free, healthy, and can help you lose more weight? Does it sound too good to be true? For years, people have speculated that this drink helps with weight loss. But until now there hasnít been much scientific evidence to back up that claim. So what is it?
Posted 9/3/2010  10:12:31 AM By: Jen Mueller : 147 comments   104,469 views
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Food on the Run: McCafe' Fruit Smoothies

The smoothie has increased in popularity over the last several years. So much so that the smoothie maker has recently become one of the hottest selling small appliances. At the same time, smoothie and juice bars have popped up in malls and communities all over the country.

Earlier this week my son asked to stop for a smoothie. Since he is a growing teenager that eats almost hourly as well as being a "fruit boy," as we fondly refer to him, I made the stop. Since this was my first trip to this particular smoothie cafe, I let him make his selection while I looked over the menu boards. While we waited and I reviewed the "supercharged power up" vitamin and protein additive options, I wondered exactly what was in the concoction he had selected that set me back $4.58. He walked out happy with his selection of a 24-ounce Island Lemonade Smoothie (frozen lemonade) while I was a bit disappointed that he ended up with nothing more than a specialty frozen sugar drink instead of something more nutrient rich. The next day I came across an article discussing the new McDonald's McCafe real fruit smoothies that caused me to take a deeper look. I wondered if this could be a more nutrient wise option for the next time my son wanted a smoothie.

Posted 7/15/2010  1:26:28 PM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 207 comments   32,383 views
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Does Relaxation Require a Special Drink?

One of the top one hit wonder songs of the 1980's was Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood. The key words to the song were relax and don't do it. Those words also apply to the new line of beverages called relaxation drinks.

A new Wall Street Journal article outlines some scary truths about these new drinks that have not been clinically tested but have been touted to lower stress, anxiety and aid sleep. Since key ingredients range from plant extracts to natural human hormones, I thought it would be important to explain a little more about them before you decide if they are right for you.

Posted 4/1/2010  6:20:37 AM By: Tanya Jolliffe : 118 comments   14,083 views
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