Do Liquid Calories Really Count?

When you add up the calories that you’ve eaten in a day, it’s easy to forget a smoothie from lunch, a soda at dinner, or a glass of milk before bedtime. Most people don’t worry about those because they think it’s just a few calories. However, if you’re serious about keeping track of your calories in order to lose or maintain weight, it’s essential to keep track of the liquid calories you take in.

Liquid Calories in Your Diet

As people rely more and more on convenience foods, the amount of calories that come from liquids has consistently gone up in developed countries. In fact, the typical American ingests 20 percent of their daily calories in liquid form. While some of those liquid calories come from healthy sources, such as milk or juice, the majority of them tend to come from sugary, unhealthy drinks that are packed with calories.

You may underestimate the amount of liquid calories you take in. Unless you only drink water, you should be carefully recording the liquid calories you drink. A smoothie, while apparently a healthy alternative to soda, often has more than 500 calories. That’s probably equal to or more than 20 percent of your calories in one drink.

How Liquid Calories Affect Your Diet

Looking at how quickly liquid calories add up can be a good way of reminding yourself to limit sugary drinks and record everything you drink. The average American drinks about 1½ cans of soda per day, which adds up to approximately 225 calories daily. Juice, which most people consider to be a healthy alternative to soda, still has about 100 calories per six ounce serving. Considering that a full-size glass holds about twelve ounces, you could drink 200 calories without even thinking about it.

Drinking your calories can keep you from getting the nutrients you need. Most drinks, including juice, soda and sports drinks, have quite a bit of sugar in them. No matter what other health benefits they may offer, drinks that are high in sugar put you at risk for gaining weight. These drinks also tend to have artificial colors, flavors and preservatives that aren’t good for your body.

If you fill up on these artificially flavored and sugary drinks, you won’t be able to get more of the good food you need for your body to work at an optimal level. Instead of getting all your calories in liquid form, drink more water and get your calories from whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean meats. You’ll feel more hydrated, since you won’t have to worry about caffeine or sugar dehydrating your body. Additionally, you will be eating more of the vitamins, minerals and nutrients that you need to get on a daily basis.

Liquid calories really do count. They add up quickly, and if they’re coming from sugary drinks, they can add on the pounds, too. To minimize the impact of liquid calories on your diet, keep very close track of what you’re drinking and how much you’re drinking. That will show if you need to adjust your diet, helping you achieve a healthier lifestyle.

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