Are you Drinking Your Calories?

Jodi Schaeffer, MPH, RDN, LDN
When it comes to weight loss, there are lots of diets promising fast results. 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. Drinks high in sugar are “empty calories.” Empty calories are calories that provide little nutritional value to your diet and can add up quickly. The good news is, with a few substitutions, you can save lots of calories and add nutrients back to your diet.
Look at the difference in these two examples:

Example 1:
• Breakfast: Medium café latte (16 ounces) made with whole cow’s milk: 265 calories
• Lunchtime: 20 – ounce bottle of cola: 240 calories
• Afternoon snack: Sweetened iced tea (16 ounces): 180 calories
• Dinner: 12 – ounce can of beer: approximately 150 calories
Total calories: 835 calories in beverages

The majority of these calories are “empty”, however, cow’s milk contains protein, vitamin D, and calcium which are good for bones, teeth and muscle repair.

Example 2:
• Breakfast: Small café latte (12 ounces) made with fat-free cow’s milk: 125 calories
• Lunchtime: water (from the tap, bottle or sparkling): 0 calories
• Afternoon break: 8 ounces of Chocolate cow’s milk (2% reduced-fat): 190 calories
• Dinner: 5 ounces of red wine: approximately 127 calories
Total calories: 442 calories

Half the calories of example one. In addition, better health choices, here is why:
• Chocolate cow’s milk: Low fat chocolate milk has less fat and calories than whole milk and contains protein, carbohydrate, calcium, vitamins and minerals we need for energy, muscle repair, strong bones and teeth and is great for re-hydration.

• Water: Most Americans do not drink enough water. Water is necessary to maintain the balance of body fluids (our body is composed of about 60% water), transports waste products out of the body, and helps control calorie intake by making you feel fuller. Drinking water throughout the day is essential to good health! Get a large “to go” bottle and fill it with ice and water. When you are finished, fill it again. Or get your own BPA-free glass or plastic re-usable bottle to carry with you!