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Save your calories: Smart beverage swaps

When you’re watching your calorie intake, it’s usually easy to track the calories in food products by reading the nutritional information on the packaging.

Woman drinking coffee

While packaged beverages such as sodas and juices break down the ingredient components on the label, prepared drinks often have hidden calories you can easily overlook.

There are many viable beverage options that range from breakfast drinks to lunch libations and after-work cocktails. Applying these beverage swapping options can save you hundreds of unwanted calories a day.

Morning brews

Many people get hooked on sugary sweet beverages disguised as “coffee” by big chains. Sure, there’s coffee in them but it’s not the main ingredient, and for every adjective in the title, hundreds of calories can be added to the drinks. Instead of a creamy mocha latte frappe with a shot of whatever to start the day, try a cup of freshly brewed black coffee. Sample different types of beans and roasts to discover the wide range of natural flavors influenced by the soils and climates around the world. The same applies to tea. Try black tea blends, as well as orange, herbal and green teas. As you wean yourself off the sugar-laden options, you’ll more fully appreciate the innate tastes of plain coffee and tea.

water with lemonLunch drinks

Follow the same guidelines for iced coffee and tea — let the inherent flavors dominate the drink instead of masking them with creamy and sweet additives. Instead of lemon, add slices of fresh orange, pineapple, tangerine or lime to different types of tea to bring out their pure flavors. Fans of fizzy drinks can substitute seltzer water with a squeeze of fresh citrus juice for sugary sodas or just pop a fruit wedge or fresh berries into bottled water to give it a fresh twist.

Comforting cocktails

When you relax with a cocktail at the end of the day, calories are probably the last thing on your mind. Besides, you deserve your favorite imbibement after your long day at work. No matter what your drink of choice is, there’s probably a lower-calorie option that tastes very similar. Gin and tonic can be replaced with a Gin Rickey for a calorie savings of 32 per drink. Instead of a mixed drink of ginger ale or tonic and hard liquor, or a spritzer made with white or red wine and a sweet carbonated beverage, use calorie-free seltzer water. Forgo that Black Russian and opt for an Irish Coffee to save 45 calories a pop. Whiskey Sours are refreshing but you can cut 61 calories off your intake by ordering a Presbyterian, which has a highly-comparable taste without so much sugar.

Experiment with different beverage combinations and you’ll find a lower calorie version that satisfies without any guilt and without having to poke another hole in your belt. Share your secrets with a friend… in exchange for them buying the next round.

Tell us

Have you invented a new low-calorie version of a popular cocktail? Share it with us.

More drink and beverage information

The truth about drinking and your health
Heart-healthy summer drinks
How to order your Starbucks drink to accommodate your diet

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