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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5/16/2012 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.


5/16/2012 2:54:14 PM

MAYRAY26241's SparkPage
Sadly, I live in a town with very few coffee choices. I like to get a latte or cappuccino from McDonald's sometimes. You can order them with no fat, and no flavoring and they are quite yummy.


5/16/2012 12:41:13 PM

LMSHEP1231's SparkPage
When I first decided to get fit the first thing I dropped was the sodas and took up flavored sparkling water. So much more refreshing and I shed the first 5 pounds super fast. I love the difference and I don't even think about drinking sodas anymore.


5/16/2012 11:23:38 AM

PEACOCK15's SparkPage
I mostly drink palin water or Crystal Light type drinks. I gave up soda quite a while ago and have been drinking all different flavors of seltzer. The choices are quite plentiful! Working in an office I typically keep at least 2 bottles of seltzer in the fridge near my office and it is so much easier to go fill a cup several times a day rather than go to the food court and buy soda and spend the money!


5/16/2012 10:31:22 AM

BERNSGB's SparkPage
I have been drinking plain water, but i will have to get the seltzer to try


5/16/2012 7:17:06 AM

I make herbal ice tea that is sweet naturally. Black cherry is my favourite.


5/15/2012 11:26:57 PM

MCFITZ2's SparkPage
great ideas


5/15/2012 8:53:01 PM

CANDYGIRL386's SparkPage
I have to a lot of water because I had a kidney transplant last year in October and I have to drink water. I stop drinking sodas after I had my transplant and I really don't drink a lot of tea. If I am going to drink anything it would be sugar free tea.


5/15/2012 4:11:40 PM

Thanks for the great reminder. Another tip is make sure you are drinking 8 oz of water as an alternate to having a second of any of these drinks. Smoothies are healthy but youcan pack on the calories if you go for the size smoothie shops prepare;-)


5/15/2012 3:19:42 PM

usually I drink coffee, water, And , OOlong Tea . I am not a soda drinker. Have been experimenting with Stevia as I am Diabetic and it has no impact on glucose levels and is not a chemically altered sweetener. I have found though that the quality varies between brands and so far the Sweetleaf has been the best. For some reason the little tablet pack you can carry in your purse or pocket seems to work the best. You can find it in most grocery stores .


5/15/2012 12:52:28 PM

I'm gonna go ahead and say they didn't say anything about plain water because DUHHHH! Everybody already knows that plain water is good for you but for some people drinking plain water glass after glass is gross and boring. Sparks is trying to show you other options.


5/15/2012 11:31:13 AM

*that was supposed to be 800 calories!* sorry!


5/15/2012 10:58:53 AM

I totally agree about the coffee! I used to love the flavored creamers, and used the full fat full sugar ones because I didn't think it was a big deal. After watching my diet and working out for a couple months with no real progress I decided one day to keep a log of everything I ate and drank for a couple days to see if I was sabotaging myself somehow. I quickly learned that my morning (pot of) coffee was killing my efforts. I was using several tablespoons of creamer in each cup. And drinking about 6 cups. So my healthy breakfast of oatmeal with fresh fruit and a little artificial sweetener and a few cups of coffee turned out to be about 80 calories! Crazy! So I weaned myself off the creamers, and yes, I had a day or two of what I would describe as withdrawal symptoms...and then just decided to add a little skim milk to my coffee. Do I miss the flavored coffee? Yes. But not terribly, and when I think about all those empty calories its a no brainer.


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?

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