(CARLSBAD, CA) – The iced mocha in the morning, the Oreo cookie shake at lunchtime, the smoothie for a mid-afternoon snack, and the soda at dinnertime … they’re all part of the typical American diet. And they’re adding inches to our waistlines at an alarming rate! Liquid calories, those we take in from beverages, are one of the worst diet disasters of the 21st century.
According to a Penn State study, Americans actually drink one-quarter of our daily calories. Half of the added sugar in the American diet comes from beverages, with soft drinks contributing a whopping 36% of Americans’ daily sugar intake. Considering that the average American is consuming more than 52 gallons of carbonated soft drinks each year, it’s not surprising that our waistlines are suffering.
What’s worse is that most people don’t “count” liquid calories. When we drink high-calorie beverages, we don’t cut back accordingly on the calories we ingest from solid food. In the Penn State study, over a period of six weeks, people ate the same amount of food served on their plates, regardless of the calorie count found in their beverages.
If you’re looking to drop a few pounds, or even maintain your current weight and health, then taking a look at your liquid calories is a must. Jazzercise Founder and CEO Judi Sheppard Missett offers these suggestions for reining in the calories you take in from beverages.
Do your homework. The first step in reducing liquid calories is to simply become aware of the calorie counts in the beverages you typically drink. For the next week, before you drink anything, take a look at its calorie content. The average chocolate shake packs a 600-calorie punch. And creamy coffee drinks? Let’s just say that you may want to ask for two less pumps of syrup on your next Starbucks run. Or better yet, ask for herbal tea!
Beware of juice drinks. Most juice drinks are loaded with added sugars. Why not consume the whole fruit instead of drinking a glass of fruit juice next time? If you crave a glass of OJ with your breakfast, just be sure that it’s 100% real fruit juice. For your kids, try diluting their fruit juice with water, which will reduce the amount of sugar, while allowing them to stay hydrated.
Investigate your smoothie. One of the most popular beverages of our time, the fruit smoothie, is often fruity in name only. Some common favorites are virtually void of real fruit. Look at the ingredients list before ordering your next smoothie. Avoid smoothies that are made with juice blends. Look for smoothies that include the whole fruit instead. And stick with the smallest size, unless you want to replace an entire meal with your gigantic smoothie.
Make the milk switch. What type of milk are you drinking now? If you’re drinking full-fat milk, try switching to two percent. If you’re drinking two percent, try switching to one percent or skim milk. If you can’t bear to change what you drink, then try using a lower-fat version for cooking. You’ll cut your calories by significant portions, and your palate won’t even notice the difference.
Never supersize. A large-sized soda typically runs 300-350 calories. Try ordering the child-sized soda instead, which is usually the equivalent of one 12-ounce can. Even this size of soda has 10 teaspoons of sugar!
Learn to love water. We need 8-12 glasses per day of water. Try drinking a full glass of water when you first wake-up and before eating each meal. Keep water handy in your refrigerator, so that it will be the first thing you grab when you open the door.
Jazzercise, created by Judi Sheppard Missett, is the world's leading dance-fitness program with more than 7,500 instructors teaching 32,000 classes weekly in the U.S. and around the globe. Since 1969, millions of people of all ages and fitness levels have reaped the benefits of this comprehensive program, designed to enhance cardiovascular endurance, strength, and flexibility. For more information on Jazzercise go to jazzercise.com or call (800)FIT-IS-IT or (760)476-1750.