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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6/9/2012 9:08:57 AM

Steer clear of those artificially sweetened drinks -- of all kinds and for all the reasons listed.

I order my latte nonfat (skinny) and unsweetened. It's a great treat once in a while, and I figure it gives me one serving of dairy for the day. The milk is naturally sweet (lactose) and the touch of cinnamon or nutmeg adds extra flavor. Or brew so decaf espresso at home, add some crushed ice and top off with NF regular milk or some vanilla soy milk.

For summer, try some of the flavored teas as iced tea -- from green tea with pomegranate to lemon tea with ginger. These are a refreshing change.

My drink of choice when I don't want water is water with fresh lemon or lime. Sometimes I make up a pitcher in the morning -- 2 liters (about 2 quarts) of water and the juice of one lemon or lime. this is dilute enough that I don't feel the need for any sweetener at all.


6/9/2012 9:02:31 AM



6/9/2012 7:24:42 AM

Don't forget about Almond Breeze or Horshata. These come in Unsweetend varies as well and are thirst quenching as well as Lactose free.


6/9/2012 6:09:36 AM

Mooshka19, well pointed out. Avoid all 'diet' products as they are full of chemicals and low fat ones are high in sugar.


6/9/2012 6:08:14 AM

Mooshka19, great comment! I now avoid all 'diet' products as they are full of chemicals and low fat ones are full of sugar!


6/9/2012 5:46:14 AM

EGRAMMY's SparkPage
I like it at the Marriott when they have water dispensers out with fruit in for flavor. So refreshing.


6/9/2012 4:44:02 AM

TINAJANE76's SparkPage
I squeeze half a lemon into a glass of water and sweeten it up a bit with some Stevia. Very refreshing and a nice change when you want something more than plain old water.


6/9/2012 3:27:51 AM

SWTLULU2007's SparkPage
Some of these are way easier said than done. When I first started spark people I drank a ton of sugary drinks. Dr. Pepper, Starbucks, etc. I personally love the taste of soda and their idea of a substitute would NOT due it for me. I swtiched to diet and I know that doesnt work for everyone, but it works for me. I also brew my own coffee and use sugar free creamers with a splenda like sugar. I also drink the crystal light energy's and sugar free kool-aide. I think some of the suggestions were awesome, but some were not ideal like switching from coffee to black...not a tasty switch and same for the sugar free tea~


6/9/2012 3:20:42 AM

Dont forget herbal thea and to make water taste different put some fresh lemon in. What also saves calories is waterinf sdown juice wich works well when the juice is sweet.


6/7/2012 5:10:44 PM

Water. Water. Water. That's all you need. (Okay, a little oj, maybe some milk in the ONE cup of coffee a day, and a glass of wine with dinner....)


6/7/2012 4:14:12 PM

AUSSIEJAN2's SparkPage
I have switched to Stevia powder for sweetening. It is cheaper and better for you, is natural and requires very little. I amused to it now, and never use sugar in tea or coffee. Start half and half if it bothers you, and gradually replace the sugar. You will not miss it. I keep mine in a small shaker on the counter, and use a very light shake per mug. I buy it fro a vitamin store online. It lasts forever.


6/7/2012 9:27:55 AM

my drinks of tea or coffee do not have sugar or milk as I don't like them, my other drink is hot chocolate three tsp made with hot water. also I drink lots of water


6/6/2012 11:18:34 AM

Never, ever do low calorie drinks! Most contain aspartame and other excitotoxins which not only cause you to gain weight (due to increased appetite) but also kill your brain cells over time. Excitotoxins have been linked to diseases like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's etc.


6/6/2012 10:51:55 AM

SLEYVA1's SparkPage
I think this is one of the HARDEST things to change. Everyone has serious preferences when it comes to liquid. Food *I* think is a little easier to change. This is going to be a hard one for me. No more Dunkin Donuts, even with with skim milk and a small amount of sugar? I'm partial to coffee during the day too. I also drink more diet coke and this is HORRIBLE for people with joint issues and diseases due to the aspartume (sp?). I KNOW this but, it's SOOOOOO good.


6/6/2012 8:39:44 AM

I started doing most of these this year! Well, except for the mock tini's. Have to have the real one!!

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