5 Smart Beverage Swaps

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5 Smart Beverage Swaps

Written by Melinda Hershey, Health Educator

Could you be sipping a meals' worth of calories between meals? Though some beverages may seem innocent enough, liquid calories tend add up fast--and can easily skyrocket your daily intake without you even realizing it. These simple switches will help you trim the fat while enjoying your favorite types of drinks.

Drink Plain Coffee Instead of a Latte

Could your morning latte be to blame for your stalled weight-loss efforts? Since many flavored coffee drinks contain 400 calories or more, it could be the culprit.

Next time, survey your coffee options before you sip, or simply skip all the fancy creams and flavored syrups and go with a plain cup of joe. If desired, you can add your own sweeteners, cream or flavoring--but you'll be able to control the portions and the calories by doing it yourself.

Drink a Low-Cal Energizing Drink Mix Instead of an Energy Drink

These days, the grocery store coolers are lined with dozens of varieties of sugar- and caffeine-infused energy drinks. The cans claim numerous "energizing" benefits, and these drinks may even contain added vitamins, but all you're really getting is a hefty dose of caffeinated sugar water (and hundreds of calories to boot).

If you want the energy without the added calories, try a flavorful drink mix (like Crystal Light Energy). It gives you a boost thanks to added caffeine but contains a minimal amount of calories and zero added sugar. Add a packet to your water bottle, or mix it with seltzer for a fizzy, low-calorie treat.

Drink Unsweetened Tea Instead of Sweet Tea

Tea has countless health benefits by itself, but you're not doing yourself any favors by loading it up with hundreds of calories of added sugar. Tea tastes wonderful in its natural state; it sometimes just takes some getting used to!

If you usually drink sweetened tea (iced or hot), slowly cut back on the amount of sugar you add over the course of a few weeks until you're ready to drink it straight. When ordering sweet tea from a restaurant (where they've already added the sweetener for you), ask for an extra cup of water so you can water it down as you wean yourself off the sugar.

There are many herbal teas you can brew that have a natural sweetness thanks to dried fruits and sweet-tasting herbs. While it might not be as sweet as sweet tea, natural tea has a unique and refreshing taste that you might learn to love over time if you give it a chance.

Drink Seltzer Instead of Soda

It's hard to avoid soda. Most of us probably see some kind of soda advertisement or bottle several times per week, whether it be at a gas station, grocery store, or social function. Soda packs a hefty caloric punch that adds up fast: A typical 24-ounce bottle can contain up to 500 calories!

If you crave the fizz soda, try drinking calorie-free seltzer water with a spritz of lime or a small splash of juice for some added flavor and sweetness. You'll slash your calorie and sugar consumption while still getting your bubbly fix.

Drink Mocktails Instead of Cocktails

It's fine to let loose and have a few drinks with friends, but remember that not all alcohol is created equal. Toss back a few sugary margaritas and you're looking at consuming nearly 1,000 calories--and that's before you even touch the deep-fried bar food!

To scale back on your alcohol calories, avoid frozen or blended drinks, as they tend to contain the most sugars and flavorings. Instead, stick with dry wine or liquor mixed with soda water, low-calorie drink packets, or another low-calorie mixer. If you're pouring the drinks yourself, keep an eye on serving sizes: 12 ounces for beer, 5 ounces for wine, and just 1.5 ounces for liquor.

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Member Comments on this Slideshow

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3/24/2013 7:03:08 PM

Look up Sassy Water from the Flat Belly diet. It's deliciousness with mint, ginger and lemon.


3/24/2013 6:25:01 PM

DAWNLOGA's SparkPage
I haven't had anything carbonateed in 6 years. I cannot drink straight water, and have been drinking flavored water. i recently began using the Dasani flavored drops in regular tap water - tastes great, doen't bother me like plain tap water. I also have a water bottle with an infuser that I can put fresh fruit into - makes the water taste good!
But I won't give up my 2 or 3 cups of coffee!


3/24/2013 5:37:00 PM

CMADELINE1's SparkPage
The best beverage swap one can make is to switch whatever it is you are drinking with water.


3/24/2013 5:31:01 PM

JEANUT's SparkPage
Don't forget good o'l water and if you like squeeze a bit of lemon in it


3/24/2013 2:37:39 PM

ABBYLEE6's SparkPage
very good ideas!! I grow mint in the summer and harvest the leaves. I dry the leaves and use all winter for hot tea. For a little added difference, I sometimes add a bit of creamer and sugar. I plan to grow different herbs this summer to make for next winter.


3/24/2013 12:40:11 PM

I'd rather eat my calories than drink them. I avoid anything drink with any calories. Water is my preference .


3/24/2013 11:43:12 AM

It's only craze for taste. Fresh fruit juice is good enough. I stopped taking canned beverages which has added sugar long back. I drink about 2 litres of boiled warm water. My day starts with taking a glass of boiled warm water followed by work out for about 45 minutes.Since many years I have been taking coffee without sugar. So far,B.P, sugar and other parameters are under control. Water is the best beverage.


3/24/2013 9:21:48 AM

JJMOK0911's SparkPage
Water first and always, but I do have a problem with excess coffee consumption! I have been trying to avoid artificial sweeteners as well, because they are really bad for your body (and sabotage your weight loss efforts by tricking your body into craving more sweet). I treat myself with sparkling water flavored with lemon or lime, which is super yummy. It's my version of pop!


3/24/2013 7:18:11 AM

Water is always the best!


3/24/2013 4:59:00 AM

SUNSET09's SparkPage
I enjoy my Diet pepsi and have been drinking the 100% grapefruit juices before my meals. I have gotten really into water as it is my first and last drink of the day. Don't let me forget my favorite any kind of tea which I drink right after my morning water intake! Good information and thanx for sharing!


3/24/2013 4:58:45 AM

I can't stand anything made with artificial sweetener. I used to drink a LOT of diet soda, to the point where it would actually physically hurt every time I had one and now I'm so sensitive to the chemical taste of any artificial sweetener, I can't even have any, it grosses me out. I've also learned how damaging these products are to the human body and am SO glad I can't tolerate them. I get tired of them being promoted, though. :( I don't like the taste of coffee and caffeine makes my heart race. I wanted to embrace the benefits of green tea and don't like the taste on it's own but I make a batch and mix it with watered down lemonade and no longer have any need for soda. It's now my favourite drink! :D


3/24/2013 2:40:29 AM

Love my Diet Coke and DD coffee...water, too...especially after my workouts!


3/24/2013 2:25:30 AM

I haven't had any soda, regular or diet in at least 10 years. When I want a cold drink with some flavor, I make herb tea and pour it over ice. Many of them have fruity flavors, don't need sweeteners, and are much better than artificially sweetened drinks like Crystal Light.

Artificial sweeteners cause sugar cravings for me, so I avoid them as much as possible. I like water with either lemon or lime juice for flavor.


3/20/2013 12:53:10 PM

I love drinking water but I love it more when it's colored . I don't drink soda, we don't have any at home . I like cold iced tea or cold iced coffee--- decaf though because of my insomnia . I just put a lot of ice, and lemon, no sugar. I get my 8 glasses a day or more drinking these liquids .


1/22/2013 9:54:08 AM

I love my coffee (2 cups a day) and drink 8oz. water as often as I can, BUT...I could NOT make it in this diet game if I didn't allow myself a Diet Coke (w/Splenda) once in awhile. I also infuse my water with Key limes.

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