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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5/15/2012 10:49:41 AM

I agree with the real sugar comment - I'm allergic to artificial sweeteners, so it's sugar or nothing for me! Sure I choose nothing most of the time and opt for water, but sometimes it's nice to have a sweet drink, and for me that means just adding one spoon of sugar. Everything in moderation! :)


5/15/2012 10:38:04 AM

Why not just plain water as an option?


5/15/2012 10:37:21 AM

CGMLH01's SparkPage
I agree with JANNEBARN - what is wrong with plain water? It's recommend to drink 8 - 8 oz glass of water a day.


5/15/2012 10:27:27 AM

Has anyone considered drinking plain water? Must everything be flavoured & sweet?


5/15/2012 10:05:10 AM

I can't give up my sweet tea. It's a staple in my house. Blame it on the Southern roots. But Truvia has been a wonderful discovery......


5/15/2012 9:05:19 AM

Interesting article... when I'm out at a restaurant next I'll consider maybe doing half sweet tea, half unsweet tea to see how that is (and if the waitress can get it right!). I'd prefer to do the half and half tea than to water down sweet tea... that just doesn't sound very good to me.


5/15/2012 8:55:05 AM

I normally mix any juice like oj with half seltzer water. It makes it fizzy, still have taste and less calories than 100% of the glass being juice.


5/15/2012 8:04:26 AM

All great ideas!


5/15/2012 7:39:54 AM

great ideas


5/15/2012 7:37:36 AM

great idea caseykelly, the peach Cyrstal light is petty good.


5/15/2012 7:15:03 AM

I agree with you Zanmei that a llittle sugar is fine. And I rather have real sugar not that fake splenda. I use a teaspoon of real sugar in my coffee each morning and really enjoy it. So a little sugar for 30 calories is no big deal to me. So here I vote for a little sugar is great.


5/15/2012 6:57:25 AM

ZANMEI's SparkPage
wats wrong with adding 2 lumps of sugar, worth 30cal, to my tea so i can enjoy it? everything is 'either' 'or'. geez.


4/28/2012 10:10:54 AM

I buy the Crystal Light Tea packets peach plus other flavors and shake them up with my Herbalife concentrate tea or NRG tea (or both) in a 32 oz Gatorade bottle. Makes for a handy no calorie energy drink and I'm getting my green tea in at the same time.

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