Cream, Two Sugars: RD's Guide to Non-Caloric Beverages
Coffee and soda and juice, oh my!
There’s a bevy (get it?!) of delicious drinks out there and we want to consume them all. Sugar makes everything taste better, right? Who doesn’t want a mimosa on a late Sunday morning? Consuming these high caloric beverages may seem harmless in the moment, but in hindsight they sabotage our fitness goals and wreak havoc on our overall health.
Check out these tips and tricks on how to avoid a sugar rush…
An Unsatisfiable Sweet Tooth
In terms of fat loss, we should stick to eating or drinking starchy carbs and sugars directly following a workout. This is to “refuel” our muscles. If we add extra calories that come from carbohydrates, we’re doing ourselves a disservice.
If we drink high caloric beverages throughout the day we’re asking for blood sugar spikes and crashes. Ever get that annoying 3 p.m. slump? Cream and sugar in that morning joe and the juice you enjoyed with lunch may be to blame!
Sugary drinks (and mixed spirits in particular) tend to be high in “empty” calories, meaning they do not provide any added nutrition to our bodies. On the contrary, it has been said that sugar actually robs the body of nutrients.
We don’t realize serving sizes. One serving versus one bottle, one teaspoon versus one tablespoon. This may seem superfluous, but knowing how to navigate serving sizes is a major key to good nutrition. Drinking a whole can of Arnold Palmer iced tea lemonade is very different than having one serving alone. That means consuming about three times the amount of sugar and calories that we could have gotten from a more useful and nutritious source.
Kick the Habit
If we absolutely need to have a drink with more than zero calories, only consume it after working out. Once this becomes habit, try eating a healthy starch right after exercise. Good options are sweet potatoes, rice, quinoa, oats, bananas and pasta.
Try weaning off of having coffee with cream and sugar. Baby steps are always key! Start by using less creamer or sugar until only one is left and then do the same for the other. Good coffee substitutes are matcha, chicory root and green or herbal teas.
Shy away from alcoholic beverages that are mixed with syrups and juices. Shoot for clear spirits straight up, on the rocks or with seltzer/tonic water.
Get comfortable with reading nutrition labels and ingredients lists. Immediately look at serving sizes, calories per serving, macros and ingredients. Sugar goes by a lot of names. A few of the more common examples are corn syrup, maltodextrin, evaporated cane juice, brown rice syrup and sucrose.
Drink water. It has only zero calories!
Navigating our journey to good health doesn’t have to be scary or overwhelming. We all can improve in some way or another. The closer we get to our goals, the more we need to look at our daily habits. Once we do that, it’s smooth sailing from there! If our fitness and nutrition goals are related to body composition in some way, stick to zero calorie beverages only. Drink that coffee black, vodka on the rocks and stay hydrated.