Nutrition Baby Step number two is "Don't drink your calories". Every beverage, other than water, black coffee, and unsweetened tea have calories. I'm not counting diet beverages because I like to act like they don't exist. Diet sodas and the like, make me want to throw things and will require a separate post to express why I despise them so much.
Consuming 500 "extra" calories per day (or calories that aren't burned off) will result in a 1 pound weight gain each week. Yes, that's 50+ pounds in a year.
As a general rule, I like to stress the quality of high calorie (high sugar/sodium/fat) items. If there is a food or drink that you consume in high quantities it is best to ensure that it is of the highest quality that you can get or afford.
For instance, if you rarely consume coffee drinks then the occasional Mocha Latte (about 340 calories) is perfectly fine to use an an indulgence. However, if you have a cup of coffee everyday (or multiple for a lot of people) then I like to stress finding a low calorie, high quality version that meets your needs while saving you the calories.
Here are some of my favorite options for the more popular beverages:
- Coffee - I have coffee almost everyday, so I prefer a local or organic coffee. I usually add coconut milk but feel free to use almond milk or low fat milk. I also love using chocolate almond milk :) Another favorite is to add iced coffee to a chocolate breakfast smoothie. After a couple of trips to a Costa Rican coffee farm I fell in love with the flavor of high quality black coffee so I don't use any sweeteners but feel free to use stevia (or any other less processes natural sweetener).
- Soda - There is no such thing as a healthy soda. If you cannot imagine a day without it then, you my dear are addicted to the sugar/fake sweeteners. I drink sparkling water, ginger ale or La Croix Sparkling Waters if I get a hankering.
- Juice - Local and/or organic fresh squeezed is your best option. Bottled juices almost always have added sugar and preservatives. This is definitely a quality type situation. Fresh squeezed orange juice is a personal fave. Be careful of lemonades, they are often filled to the brim with sugar!
- Milk - I do not regularly drink cows milk. I used to drink a lot of it, I loved it! I now alternate buying low fat organic cows milk, chocolate almond milk, and coconut milk. Again, if you cannot imagine not drinking milk (or eating cheese for that matter), you might be addicted. There is actual evidence of traces of morphine being found in animal milk, creating that addictive feeling.
- Sports Drinks - Sports drinks were created for serious athletes. If you are doing a workout that rivals a professional athletes workout or a lengthy endurance training session then by all means go for it! Otherwise, stick to water. If you are training for something intense like CrossFit or a triathlon, talk to a coach about your proper hydration needs.
- Alcohol - This one is a doozy. The calories associated with alcohol add up very quickly. And, nine times out of ten, you won't be participating in a workout after you imbibe and will probably consume crap food. Organic red wine and liquor straight up are the best options. My faves include a good Red wine and a really good stout or porter. Be careful of your mixers and of your beer options. This is definitely a case for quality over quantity. Splurge on really good mixers and high quality wine/liquor/beer. You will consume it with a little more respect, take your time, and truly enjoy the process, as opposed to chugging tons of light beer. No matter what you choose, drink water along with your alcohol to help with pacing and to lessen your hangover.
- Kombucha - Kombucha is fermented green or black tea. It is fizzy and flavored and has become my go-to in many drinking situations as I have recently cut out a lot of alcohol from my life (another blog post perhaps). It is filled with probiotics, b-vitamins, and enzymes. I love it so much I have even begun brewing my own.
Be observant of your beverages. Read the nutrition labels and choose high quality for those your drink on the regular. Small swaps can make big changes.