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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EKAETEEKANEM

5/25/2012 12:26:29 AM

I am happy and excited about the alternative drinks provided. I recently started drinking moringa tea. Google moorings to see the benefits.

DEADREWS

5/22/2012 3:10:22 PM

DEADREWS's SparkPage
I liked this slide show/article. It had good information

WARMSTRONG2

5/22/2012 10:36:14 AM

WARMSTRONG2's SparkPage
Great ideas.

THOROGOOD

5/20/2012 9:48:56 AM

Trying coffee with no sweenter. Need to push myself to drink more water. This is hard for me.

MAXISH

5/20/2012 7:04:59 AM

Missing my soft drinks. But have trouble with water. Have been adding natural lemon or lime juice to water but will look into stevia.

Thanks everyone.

1HOTPOTATO

5/18/2012 6:42:28 PM

Crystal Light has a new drink mix called Crystal Light Pure that has no artifical sweetners, flavors or preservatives and is sweetened with Truvia. Kinda of hard to find but worth the effort in finding. I drink at least 3 packets a day to help me get my water down because I have a hard time drinking plain water. I add one packet to 24 oz of water - i like it a little less sweet - but it is not that sweet in the first place. And each packet is only a whooping 15 calories that's 45 calories for my 3. Oh - it comes in grape, lemon, and strawberry kiwi and I think pomegranate.

GODSGALS

5/17/2012 4:57:26 PM

GODSGALS's SparkPage
Hi. Jade here. I enjoyed this article - some very thought-provoking ideas presented - but I must admit I was shocked to see SparkPeople actually recommend Crystal Lite, as it has aspartame in. Dr. Don Colbert often talks on the dangers of this stuff, and he says 10 year olds are developing brain tumors due to a lifestyle of drinking diet sodas and eating deli meats that contain nitrates and nitrites. He says it never should have been allowed by the FDA, and I've researched it extensively. It turns into something very similar to formaldehyde once it hits your gut. Just saying.
May I make a recommendation? Try half a glass of orange juice with mango, topped up with Perrier or a similar sparkling spring water. It gives you the fizz rush but it's sooo much better for your bod.

3SISPJD

5/17/2012 4:02:34 PM

When I started getting serious about losing some weight & getting fit, I also deleted sodas from my diet. I have always been a heavy iced tea drinker-have an insulated mug of it in my hand all the time. I have been using KAL Stevia powder in my tea since last Nov.

KELLYDRESCHER

5/17/2012 3:58:28 PM

KELLYDRESCHER's SparkPage
Do not add powdered water flavors to carbonated water - it will make a huge mess. Stick with the liquid stuff, like MiO.

JAGGEDROCKS

5/17/2012 2:28:05 PM

JAGGEDROCKS's SparkPage
I am one of those people that can't drink Crystal Light or most diet/light drinks because they contain aspartame, and aspartame kills my stomache. The ones that don't have aspartame still have a funny taste because of what ever they use as a sweetner, and I have a hard time with it. However seltzer's are a good idea! I try to drink just plain water but at times I have a hard time with it.

JAGGEDROCKS

5/17/2012 2:24:22 PM

JAGGEDROCKS's SparkPage
I am one of those peopel that can't drink Crystal Light or most diet/light drinks because they contain aspartame, and aspartame kills my stomache. However seltzer's are a good idea!

XTINAFISHER

5/17/2012 2:15:04 PM

XTINAFISHER's SparkPage
There is a brand of soda that has no calories and is sweetened with stevia. It's called Zevia and it's very good. They have a variety of flavors without the calories. My kids love their root beer and ginger ale and the dr. Zevia is yummy too.

PROVERBS31JULIA

5/16/2012 5:27:20 PM

PROVERBS31JULIA's SparkPage
Why torture yourself? Get liquid Stevia to sweeten your unsweetened tea or seltzer water yourself! It's zero calories. It is from leaves of the stevia plant, not an artificial sweetener! I also use it (or the powdered stevia) in my hot coffee or teas. I also use concentrated fruit juice and mix it with seltzer water for a bubbly pop like effect but use more water than it usually calls for in reconstituting juice - ie, with orange juice it is usually three cans of water to the one can of juice, but I might go four or five cans and thin it out just to spread calories out a bit more.).

TAMELAELSWICK

5/16/2012 4:56:11 PM

TAMELAELSWICK's SparkPage
Since I don't like diet drinks and I know that I would NOT drink only water for my lifetime - and my goal is to make lifetime changes - I had to try something different. I now drink 1/2 sweet tea when I am at home or out. 1/2 sweet, 1/2 unsweet. I found I didn't need the syrup taste of super sweet tea, but didn't like the artificial sweetners. Everyone knows that you can't sweeten tea right once it's cold, so that was my answer.

I really don't miss pop because I have something I like to drink. I don't miss sweet tea because it tastes too sweet to me now. Unsweet isn't an option, but 68 cal for 1/2 sweet tea is a calorie investment I am willing to make.

CHRISANDME123

5/16/2012 4:13:05 PM

CHRISANDME123's SparkPage
When i first started to loss weight that was one of the first things i did. I stop drinking soda. the unsweet tea i really dont know i will try. But i stop drinking sodas and went with tea. and yes it did make a big differnts.

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