Do you know how many calories you consumed from drinks alone yesterday? Many of us forget beverages have calories, but oh, they do. If you only drank water yesterday, then that answer is easy – zero. But a good number of us turn to sugar-sweetened beverages when we’re thirsty – and those sugary drinks add up! Just one 20-ounce bottle of soda is 250 calories, and can contain 16 ½ teaspoons of sugar. If you think you’re doing better with the iced tea, it’s not by much. One 20-ounce bottle of lemon-flavored iced tea is 210 calories, and can contain 14 ½ teaspoons of sugar.
The reality is Americans consume 200 to 300 more calories each day than we did 30 years ago. Of these extra calories, nearly half come from sugar-sweetened drinks with zero health benefits. Sugary drinks have gotten bigger in size and there’s a lot more of them out there. In New York City, more than two million adults drink at least one sugar-sweetened soda or other sweetened beverage each day. The calories consumed from these types of beverages can lead to obesity and diabetes, and cause cavities in kids and adults. So, are you pouring on the pounds?
For starters, an average adult needs about 2,000 calories a day to maintain a steady weight. Many women need less (I aim for 1,800). Let’s look at what might be an average day of liquid calories, using 2,000 as our base for recommended calories. If you start your day off with a 16-ounce iced white chocolate mocha beverage – it’s pretty hot outside, and you want a treat to start your work day off with – that’s 340 calories (and 13 teaspoons of sugar!), leaving you with 1,660 calories for the day. Lunch follows, and you like to wash your tuna sandwich down with an iced tea – that’s 210 calories – leaving you at 1,450. You then usually have a soda around 3 p.m., to get you through the rest of your day – that’s 250 calories – leaving you at 1,200. And then you like to take a sports drink with you to the gym after work, that’s 120 calories – leaving you with 1,080 calories for breakfast, lunch and dinner. With just 1,080 for three square meals, it’s no wonder why so many of us have a hard time maintaining a healthy weight.
In addition to weight gain and possible obesity – diabetes (51 ½ teaspoons of sugar were consumed in the example day above!), heart disease and high blood pressure are usually not far behind. And with these health conditions come the risk of heart attack, stroke and cancer – you get the picture. And right now in New York City, more than half of adult New Yorkers are overweight (34%) or obese (22%).
So, what can you do to cut back on pouring down those pounds? For starters, drink more water. It’s zero calories, sugar-free, quenches your thirst and it’s free. Want some fizz – drink seltzer instead of soda. Want a cold dairy drink – reach for the low-fat milk or make your own smoothie instead of grabbing someone else’s high-calorie one! And don’t get me started on the icy coffee drinks! Want a snack – grab an apple instead of drinking apple juice. A medium-sized apple is 60 calories, has fiber and actually helps you feel full. An 8-ounce cup of apple juice is twice as many calories, has no fiber and won’t fill you up half as much.
So, what do you think? Think you can stop pouring on the pounds with added sugar?