Originally Published: June 6, 2009 9:23 p.m.
When it comes to weight loss, there's no lack of diets promising fast results. There are low-carb diets, high-carb diets, low-fat diets, grapefruit diets, cabbage soup diets and blood-type diets, to name a few. But no matter what diet you may try, to lose weight you must take in fewer calories than your body uses. Most people try to reduce their calorie intake by focusing on food, but another way to cut calories may be to think about what you drink.
Calories in drinks are not hidden (they're listed right on the Nutrition Facts label), but many people don't realize just how many calories beverages can contribute to their daily intake. Sweeteners that add calories to a beverage go by many different names and are not always obvious to anyone looking at the ingredient list, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC provides the following list of common caloric sweeteners. If these appear in the ingredient list of your favorite beverage, you are drinking a sugar-sweetened beverage.
High-fructose corn syrup
Fruit juice concentrates
Honey and/or sugar
Syrup and/or corn syrup
Sucrose and/or dextrose
Coffee drinks and blended fruit smoothies sound innocent enough, but the calories in some of your favorite coffee-shop or smoothie-stand items may surprise you. Check the website or in-store nutrition information of your favorite coffee or smoothie shop to find out how many calories are in different menu items.
Once you realize how much difference a drink can make, you can begin to make smarter beverage choices. For instance:
Choose water, diet or low-calorie beverages instead of sugar-sweetened beverages.
For a quick, easy and inexpensive thirst-quencher, carry a water bottle and refill it throughout the day.
Don't stock the fridge with sugar-sweetened beverages. Instead, keep a jug or bottles of cold water in the fridge.
Serve water with meals.
Make water more exciting by adding slices of lemon, lime, cucumber or watermelon, or drink sparkling water.
Add a splash of 100 percent juice to plain sparkling water for a refreshing, low-calorie drink.
When you do opt for a sugar-sweetened beverage, go for the small size. Some companies are now selling 8-ounce cans and bottles of soda.