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Health and Fitness News

Drink Up!

Replace your sugary beverages with these healthier options.

Everyone knows Big Macs, French fries, and milk shakes are off limits when you’re trying to lose weight. High in calories, added sugars, and grams of unhealthy fats, foods like these have no place in a healthy diet. But what about that cappuccino, lemonade, and soda you had with breakfast, lunch, and dinner? Because liquid calories are often overlooked, they could be what are stopping you from reaching your weight loss goals.

To give you an idea of liquid calories, twelve ounces of soda contain anywhere from 124 to 189 calories, sweet tea 129 to 143, fruit juice 157 to 175, milk 125 to 220, regular beer 155, and five ounces of red wine 125. And don’t think you’re safe because you drink diet soda instead of regular. The chemicals found in diet drinks can do harm to your weight-loss efforts as well.

So what should you drink if you’re trying to cut back? Here are five beverages you can enjoy without even an ounce of guilt when on a diet.

Water

It should come as no surprise that water is the number one diet-friendly drink. Water quenches your thirst, keeps you hydrated, and fills you up to curb your appetite, all with zero extra calories. Swap out your sugary beverages for water and you’ll save hundreds of calories a day.

Though you may be tempted to go with vitamin-infused waters, remember this—while they may taste better, they likely contain artificial colors and flavors, so plan to get your vitamins from actual food or supplements. Want to improve the taste of your water? Add a slice of lemon, lime, or cucumber to sweeten things up.

Vegetable Juice

While fruit juice is high in calories and natural sugars, vegetable juice is a more diet-friendly option. With about half the calories of fruit juice but just as nutritious, choose 100-percent vegetable juice that’s low in sodium and contains the pulp for added fiber and appetite control. Keep in mind that eating fresh vegetables is a healthier way to get the nutrients and fiber offered by food, but an occasional glass of 100-percent juice is a nice diversion.

Black Coffee

Rather than reaching for an energy drink or soda for a jolt of caffeine, drink black coffee instead. Calorie-free and high in antioxidants, a few cups of black coffee a day will improve concentration, boost your mood, and lower your risk of diabetes. Coffee also makes a great pre-workout drink for energy. If you must, add a tiny amount of cream or sugar to your mug, but slowly wean yourself over a few weeks.

Certain Smoothies

Just as coffee can become high in calories depending on the way it’s prepared, so can smoothies. When smoothies are made with fresh or frozen fruit, skim milk, and low-fat yogurt, they make a healthy meal replacement. But add in sweeteners, honey, ice cream, or full-fat dairy, and you have anything but low-calorie. Be picky about your smoothie ingredients to keep them diet-friendly.

Unsweetened Tea

Like the caffeine boost you get from soda and energy drinks? Then make the switch to unsweetened green or black tea. At zero calories they may not be as sweet, but you’ll get a jolt of caffeine while hydrating your body with micronutrients and antioxidants that stimulate weight loss by boosting metabolism and burning extra fat. A small teaspoon of sugar or honey will add a small amount of calories while providing a bit of sweetness to improve taste.