Keeping hydrated throughout the day is important, but if the liquids you’re drinking are loaded with calories, you might be doing more harm than good. Here, we lay out the biggest culprits.
The culprits: When all-natural ingredients like fruit, juice, yogourt, seeds, etc., are used in smoothies, they can make exceptionally healthy light meals and snacks. Unfortunately not all smoothies are created equally, and some can actually be quite high in calories. Baskin Robbins’ medium-size Mango Banana Smoothie, for instance, has 630 calories and 134 grams of sugar in a 24-ounce cup.
The healthy alternative: Cut the sugar and calories by more than half when you opt for Booster Juice’s 24-ounce Mango Hurricane Smoothie. At 300 calories and 59 grams of sugar, it’s a much lighter way to satisfy your smoothie craving.
The culprits: If there’s one type of beverage we all know we should drink less of, it’s soft drinks. They might seem harmless, but unfortunately most of them are loaded with sugar, preservatives and artificial flavours. A 355-millilitre can of Coca-Cola, for instance, has 160 calories. Just think what that adds up to when multiplied enough times to fit into the large or extra-large cups offered at your local fast food joint or movie theatre!
The healthy alternative: Rather than a sugar-laden soft drink, reach for Zevia cola instead. It has zero calories, no sugar and nothing artificial. Instead of sugar or aspartame, it is sweetened with plant-based stevia.
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The culprits: On a hot summer day, a cool, refreshing glass of lemonade can be a real treat. But if you reach for a glass of something such as Minute Maid’s lemonade, you’re consuming a beverage that has been sweetened with high fructose corn syrup and sugar — 28 grams of sugar in a 240-millilitre serving, to be exact. And that small serving will cost you 110 calories.
The healthy alternative: Rather than relying on a store-bought option, make your own natural version with still or sparkling water and 2–3 tablespoons of the juice from a few fresh lemons. Then sweeten it with a touch of maple syrup, honey or agave nectar. And every time you make it, try to lower the amount of sweetener you add. You’ll likely be pleasantly surprised by what your taste buds can get used to.
The culprits: In recent years, coffee has been touted for its health benefits. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that many of the espresso-based drinks you get at coffee shops contain a whole lot more cream and sugar than they do antioxidant-rich coffee. A grande White Chocolate Mocha from Starbucks, for instance, has 470 calories. That’s practically a meal!
The healthy alternative: The next time you stop into Starbucks for your morning or afternoon jolt, steer clear of anything that requires syrup to be added, and turn down the whipped cream. Instead, try a grande Caffè Misto with non-fat milk. You’ll get your caffeine boost and the creamy goodness of a foamy beverage for just 70 calories.
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The culprits: You might think that since regular tea has no calories, iced tea couldn’t possibly be bad for you. Unfortunately that isn’t necessarily the case. Nestea Lemon, for instance, has 150 calories, 35 grams of sugar and only 0.1 per cent tea extract. The rest is water, sugar, citric acid, lemon juice from concentrate and flavourings, among other ingredients.
The healthy alternative: To enjoy a low-calorie tea in a more natural way, brew a batch of black tea, and place it in the fridge to chill. Then add a splash of lemon juice and a teaspoon or two of your favourite sweetener, such as maple syrup or agave nectar, to taste. You can also add a little bit of water if you find the flavour too strong.
The culprits: On top of being high in calories, alcoholic beverages are worse culprits because the calories they contain are “empty calories,” which have no nutritional value. A 12-ounce glass of beer could cost you anywhere from 55–330 calories; a 5-ounce glass of wine adds up to around 123 calories; and a 1.5-ounce shot of hard liquor, such as gin, rum, vodka or whisky, has about 98 calories. Then when you factor in the mixes and liqueurs that are added to many alcoholic beverages, the calories really start to stack up. Depending on the size and ingredients, a margarita, for instance, could cost you as much as 500 calories!
The healthy alternative: Although alcohol can’t really be considered “healthy,” it is possible to lower the amount of calories you consume when you treat yourself to an adult beverage. Try making a white wine spritzer with 4 ounces of white wine and 2 ounces of soda water for a much lighter 96-calorie indulgence.