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2:19 AM Fri, Nov. 16th

Liquid assets

When it comes to losing weight, people tend to forget one very important aspect that could make or break their goal: what they drink.

"A lot of folks don't think about the calories in beverages," said Rita Carey, a registered dietitian at the Pendleton Center, who added that people will pay close attention to what they eat, but will inadvertently drink the calories they should be keeping off.

According to the June2006 issue of the Nutrition Action Health Letter, a medium Baskin Robbins vanilla milkshake packs in 980 calories, while a Yoplait strawberry smoothie has 190 calories, and a 24-oz. Starbucks coffee frappuccino has 350 calories. Even a 20-oz. container of Coca Cola or 7-Up contains 250 calories. "I have (had clients who) decide not to drink soda and suddenly they'll drop five to six pounds," Carey said.

Nutritionists agree that the key is to watch everything one ingests, whether food or beverage. "When it comes down to it, you're talking about calories in versus calories out," said Jody Laidlaw, a dietetic intern at Yavapai County Community Health Services. Laidlaw said when people continually consume fruit smoothies and special coffee drinks packed with creams and sugars, the calories begin to add up.

Grace Aldrich, a registered dietitian for Yavapai County Long Term Care, said the number one drink people should concentrate on consuming is water. "Water has no calories and water is necessary in your body," she said. "That's what the body wants."

In addition, people can mis-taken sensations of dehydration for feelings of hunger, Aldrich continued. Rather than drink-ing water, they'll grab a salty snack or a candy bar.

Judy Lee-Norris, nutrition program manager at Yavapai County Community Health Services, says that water is hydra-ting and filling, deterring misinterpreted feelings of hunger. She rec-ommends drinking a minimum of eight glasses, or 64 oz., a day.

Other drinks that nutritionistsrecommend include unsweetenedherbal teas, V8 juice, seltzer water, and milk (either 1-percent or skim). Straight coffee without anycream or sugar is OK because it's calorie-free. However, don't overdo the caffeine. Also, 100-percent fruit juice can be acceptable as well ­ in moderation.

"The thing about fruit juice is you can get carried away," Lee-Norris said, adding that a single serving of fruit juice is 6 oz. "It is fruit sugar."

Aldrich said she'd still prefer to see someone eat the fruit rather than drink the juice because the food has more nutrients. Additionally, if one does drink fruit juice, it'simportant to make sure that it's 100 percentpure.

"Conscious-ness aboutcalories (indrinks) is notan easy thing to develop," Careyacknowledged. "Maybe it's just not normal to think about calories in a beverage."

Nevertheless, it's vital if you don't want to sip away your progress.

Contact the reporter at slopatin@prescottaz.com