Pay as much attention to the liquids you consume as you do solid foods
A lot of your caloric intake may come from what you drink. While some beverages offer nutrient benefits, there are plenty of others that don’t. Paying attention to the good and bad points of what you drink is as important as doing the same for what you eat.
Water provides all of your body’s needs to restore fluids lost through metabolism, breathing, sweating and urination. It’s the perfect drink for quenching thirst and rehydrating your system. It may help you control the number of calories you eat. And all these benefits are easy on your wallet: Tap water costs a fraction of a cent per glass. Water should be your go-to beverage most of the time. Just don’t wait until you’re thirsty to reach for a glass; there are benefits to drinking it throughout the day.
Plain tea and coffee are calorie-free. Because of this, you can drink them every day. Unfortunately, we rarely drink these beverages plain. Adding cream, whipped cream and sugars (including honey, agave nectar and flavored syrups for coffee) fills them with unnecessary calories, making these drinks something that should be thought of as the occasional treat.
Fruit and vegetable juices can be good, but here’s the rub: If the label says “100% juice,” everything in the bottle came from a fruit or vegetable, but not necessarily the fruit or vegetable on the label. And though juice contains vitamins and nutrients, it may not be low in calories. For example, 4 ounces of 100 percent grape juice has 76 calories, making it not exactly low-cal. Tomato and other vegetable juices often contain a lot of salt. Try these tricks to up the healthy quotient: Dilute fruit juice half and half with water or stick to smaller portions of 6 ounces of less. Be mindful of calories, sodium and added sugars, and think of juice as a treat, not a daily drink.
Milk is an excellent source of calcium, protein, vitamin D and other micronutrients, which your body needs. But not all milk is the same: Whole milk and 2 percent milk contain a lot of extra saturated fat, so be sure to get the skim or 1 percent varieties. If you are lactose intolerant, you’ll need to try another option.
Regular, full-calorie soda may taste yummy, but it has no beneficial nutrients. Regular soda has a lot of added sugars and unnecessary calories, which can cause weight gain and tooth decay. Diet sodashave no calories, but they don’t offer any nutrients, either. And you have to be careful not to think it’s OK to consume more calories in other areas of your diet just because you chose a diet soda over a full-calorie one.
Other sugary drinks—lemonade, fruit cocktails, energy drinks, sports drinks—should probably be avoided. Although some of these drinks have a few vitamins and minerals added, they shouldn’t take the place of water or 100 percent fruit juice. Most of them have added sugars that promote tooth decay and lead to weight gain.