YOU ARE WHAT YOU DRINK
Dieters often closely watch what they eat, but forget to pay attention to what they drink. Yet this can make up more than 20 percent of our daily calorie intake.
Health and fitness expert Susan Aaronson, of the University of Michigan US, says, “believe it or not, more than 20 per cent of our daily calories come from the things we drink”. But the World Health Organisation recommends that people consume only about 10 per cent of their calories from liquids. Those extra calories from liquid beverages are adding to the obesity epidemic, making it more difficult for people to lose weight. So, if you are watching what you eat and exercising in the hope of losing weight, you should pay just as much attention to the empty calories you may be unknowingly guzzling every day. They could well be counteracting any good you’re doing through lifestyle changes.
Obesity is a growing problem in the UK. According to the NHS, 1 in 4 adults are affected by obesity today, and we are now one of the fattest nations in Europe. As a result, thousands more people will suffer obesity-related diseases such as cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. While dietary changes and increased activity are key to tackling obesity, more attention needs to be paid to the drinks that are consumed, says Aaronson. To make healthier drink choices, you should start to think about how many calories you are consuming in liquid form.
Calories from sugar are defined as empty calories. So, sugar-laden drinks contribute to weight gain and tooth decay and have no nutritional value. Fizzy soft drinks are full of sugar and empty calories, making them a major contributor to obesity, says Aaronson. If you chose to eliminate one can - which contains about nine teaspoons of sugar - each day, you can lose about a pound in one month. Over the course of a year, that equates to 15lbs. If you can’t live without fizzy pop, switch to diet varieties and then only have them as an occasional treat.
If you choose a carton of juice because you think it’s always the healthiest choice, you could still be drinking in far more calories than you thought. There is a huge difference between freshly squeezed fruit juices, and those labelled as fruit drinks. The difference can mean extra calories and fewer nutrients. Read the label carefully, warns Aaronson. If a drink label says that it’s made with real fruit juice; it may actually contain less than 10 per cent of real juice and about seven teaspoons of sugar. The best juice drinks to pick are those that say they contain 100 per cent juice.
Parents should be particularly vigilant about how many cartons of fruity drinks or squashes they allow their children to drink each day. Just one carton can contain as much as 100 calories, which means that just four are equal to about a quarter of the total calories a child should consume in one day.
Milk contains vital nutrients such as calcium, protein, Vitamin D and Vitamin A that you won’t find in other drinks. For adults, it’s recommended that you consume three servings of dairy products every day and milk should be the main source. Choosing skimmed or semi-skimmed milk can help you save hundreds of calories each day and you will still get all the nutrients your body needs, but without the extra calories and fat.
If you are planning a night out, you should be aware that you could drink the calorie equivalent of a whole meal after just a few glasses of wine or pints of beer. The average glass of wine has about 100 calories and a pint of beer contains approximately 150 calories. If you have a spirit with cola, you could be drinking a whopping 300 calories per drink.
So, what’s the healthiest choice? Water. Ideally, 80 per cent of your fluid intake should come from water and the remaining 20 per cent from low-fat milk and fresh fruit juice.
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