5 Smart Beverage Swaps

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5 Smart Beverage Swaps

Written by Melinda Hershey, Health Educator

Could you be sipping a meals' worth of calories between meals? Though some beverages may seem innocent enough, liquid calories tend add up fast--and can easily skyrocket your daily intake without you even realizing it. These simple switches will help you trim the fat while enjoying your favorite types of drinks.

Drink Plain Coffee Instead of a Latte

Could your morning latte be to blame for your stalled weight-loss efforts? Since many flavored coffee drinks contain 400 calories or more, it could be the culprit.

Next time, survey your coffee options before you sip, or simply skip all the fancy creams and flavored syrups and go with a plain cup of joe. If desired, you can add your own sweeteners, cream or flavoring--but you'll be able to control the portions and the calories by doing it yourself.

Drink a Low-Cal Energizing Drink Mix Instead of an Energy Drink

These days, the grocery store coolers are lined with dozens of varieties of sugar- and caffeine-infused energy drinks. The cans claim numerous "energizing" benefits, and these drinks may even contain added vitamins, but all you're really getting is a hefty dose of caffeinated sugar water (and hundreds of calories to boot).

If you want the energy without the added calories, try a flavorful drink mix (like Crystal Light Energy). It gives you a boost thanks to added caffeine but contains a minimal amount of calories and zero added sugar. Add a packet to your water bottle, or mix it with seltzer for a fizzy, low-calorie treat.

Drink Unsweetened Tea Instead of Sweet Tea

Tea has countless health benefits by itself, but you're not doing yourself any favors by loading it up with hundreds of calories of added sugar. Tea tastes wonderful in its natural state; it sometimes just takes some getting used to!

If you usually drink sweetened tea (iced or hot), slowly cut back on the amount of sugar you add over the course of a few weeks until you're ready to drink it straight. When ordering sweet tea from a restaurant (where they've already added the sweetener for you), ask for an extra cup of water so you can water it down as you wean yourself off the sugar.

There are many herbal teas you can brew that have a natural sweetness thanks to dried fruits and sweet-tasting herbs. While it might not be as sweet as sweet tea, natural tea has a unique and refreshing taste that you might learn to love over time if you give it a chance.

Drink Seltzer Instead of Soda

It's hard to avoid soda. Most of us probably see some kind of soda advertisement or bottle several times per week, whether it be at a gas station, grocery store, or social function. Soda packs a hefty caloric punch that adds up fast: A typical 24-ounce bottle can contain up to 500 calories!

If you crave the fizz soda, try drinking calorie-free seltzer water with a spritz of lime or a small splash of juice for some added flavor and sweetness. You'll slash your calorie and sugar consumption while still getting your bubbly fix.

Drink Mocktails Instead of Cocktails

It's fine to let loose and have a few drinks with friends, but remember that not all alcohol is created equal. Toss back a few sugary margaritas and you're looking at consuming nearly 1,000 calories--and that's before you even touch the deep-fried bar food!

To scale back on your alcohol calories, avoid frozen or blended drinks, as they tend to contain the most sugars and flavorings. Instead, stick with dry wine or liquor mixed with soda water, low-calorie drink packets, or another low-calorie mixer. If you're pouring the drinks yourself, keep an eye on serving sizes: 12 ounces for beer, 5 ounces for wine, and just 1.5 ounces for liquor.

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Member Comments on this Slideshow

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6/29/2012 12:42:01 PM

For me the hardest thing to give up is soda. Its my one weakness. Im trying though. Like most of the time drink unsweetened tea and water and then only one soda a day instead of a lot.


6/21/2012 5:05:14 AM

I haven't had a soda, diet or regular, for years. I like water with lemon, unsweetened tea or black coffee.


6/11/2012 2:28:38 PM

Sometimes I make Iced Coffee and it really hits the spot!! I use 1 cup Silk Pure Almond unsweetened vanilla milk, 1 spoonful Nescafe decafinated instant coffee, 3-4 packets splenda, 1 cup of water, and some ice and mix in a blender until smooth. Under 40 calories for a full recipe..but I still drink my water daily - this is great refreshing treat with lots of calcium, and little calories.


6/11/2012 2:21:26 PM

For those addicted to the high calorie coffee drinks, I recommend trying cappuccinos with low fat milk or soy, no sugar. Don't bother with nonfat, the fat from low fat adds a nice sweeter flavor.

Then once you get used to it, switch to black coffee. =)


6/11/2012 10:37:09 AM

BETHSHRADER, I just discovered Blue Diamond Almondmilk last week! I love the unsweetened chocolate at only 45 calories and 3 carbs per cup this is great stuff. I do add 2 packs of splenda and the texture and taste is as good as nestle quik.

Another thing I use is true lemon and true lime, Add a few packs to some plain water or sprinkle on foods. They come in packets or shakers you can find them in the store by the artificial sweeteners or online at truelemon.com. Once you buy something from the online store you will get offers every few months for 50% off.


6/11/2012 7:26:19 AM

SUZIEQUE77's SparkPage
There is nothing wrong with this article, but I do scratch my head when I realize how many somewhat health conscious adults don't already realize there are calories in drinks and they do "count" and actually cause weight gain, even if the drink is promoted as "healthy" (such as 100% fruit juice) and certainly thecy certainly can make weight loss difficult if not impossible.
There was nothing new in the article for me, but it might be helpful for someone.


6/10/2012 8:51:31 PM

I drink coffee with skim milk and lots of water.


6/9/2012 5:44:14 PM

COOKI3123's SparkPage
Fortunately I do all of these except the Seltzer water!


6/9/2012 3:47:36 PM

I drink only black coffee, unsweet tea (hot or cold), seltzer and lots of water. Rarely drink diet soda.


6/9/2012 10:38:21 AM

CHELEBELLE43's SparkPage
As of January, I didn't paticularly care for water. I was looking for ways to cut calories and it seemed like rethinking my beverage choices was an easy way to start. Prior to this decision I was drinking very little water, lots of apple juice, an occasional Dr. Pepper and lots of sweet ice tea. Not exactly sure how I made the adjustment, but after a couple of months, I was drinking mostly water, no juice, no soda & when I drink sweet tea, its 3/4 unsweet mixed with 1/4 sweet. Now I crave water & its my drink of choice. Now to work on the food I eat...


6/9/2012 9:08:57 AM

Steer clear of those artificially sweetened drinks -- of all kinds and for all the reasons listed.

I order my latte nonfat (skinny) and unsweetened. It's a great treat once in a while, and I figure it gives me one serving of dairy for the day. The milk is naturally sweet (lactose) and the touch of cinnamon or nutmeg adds extra flavor. Or brew so decaf espresso at home, add some crushed ice and top off with NF regular milk or some vanilla soy milk.

For summer, try some of the flavored teas as iced tea -- from green tea with pomegranate to lemon tea with ginger. These are a refreshing change.

My drink of choice when I don't want water is water with fresh lemon or lime. Sometimes I make up a pitcher in the morning -- 2 liters (about 2 quarts) of water and the juice of one lemon or lime. this is dilute enough that I don't feel the need for any sweetener at all.


6/9/2012 9:02:31 AM



6/9/2012 7:24:42 AM

Don't forget about Almond Breeze or Horshata. These come in Unsweetend varies as well and are thirst quenching as well as Lactose free.


6/9/2012 6:09:36 AM

Mooshka19, well pointed out. Avoid all 'diet' products as they are full of chemicals and low fat ones are high in sugar.


6/9/2012 6:08:14 AM

Mooshka19, great comment! I now avoid all 'diet' products as they are full of chemicals and low fat ones are full of sugar!

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