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Drink This, Not That!

By HERWriter
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Drink This — Not That! Lev Dolgachov/PhotoSpin

It’s easy — and dangerous! — to drink up your calories. Sugary refreshments, smoothies and juices can be high in calories and low in nutrients, making us pack on the pounds without even realizing it.

Let’s be smart about our drink choices and pick healthy alternatives over unhealthy calorie traps. Try these easy swaps to enjoy your refreshments guilt-free!

Skip Pre-Made

Pre-made juices and smoothies not only have hundreds of empty calories, they also contain added sugars or artificial sweeteners. Even though they're FDA-approved, using the most common five artificial sweeteners (saccharin, acesulfame, aspartame, neotame, and sucralose), in place of sugar doesn’t make your drink “healthy”.

Harvard Medical School reported that research implies that the use of artificial sweeteners may change the way you taste food so you associate sweetness with caloric intake, causing you to crave more sweets.

So by using artificial sweeteners, you end up avoiding nutritious and filling foods, and consume more artificially flavored ones with less nutritional value, which can lead to weight gain.

Animal studies have also shown that these sweeteners can become addictive.

Always read the label of your drink and put it down if it has added sugars, artificial sweeteners, or preservatives you can’t pronounce!

It is best to make your own juices and smoothies at home and know what goes into them. Pick your favorite fruits, add a handful of kale, some coconut water and ice, then blend!

You can enjoy this easy, naturally sweet, and delicious recipe without worrying about your health or your waistline.

Soda is a No-No

It's time to skip soda, for good. Soft drinks increase your risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and other chronic conditions.

Switch to simpler options like iced tea or flavored water instead. Slice oranges and strawberries and add them to cold water for a sweet, yet 0-calorie, refreshment. Try sparkling water with lemon, cucumber, and ice for another refreshing soda alternative.

You can also make yourself a cup of your favorite tea and add ice to it for a fast and healthy drink. Unlike soda, tea has great health benefits.

For example, according to TIME magazine, green tea can increase your body’s ability to burn fat and improve bone strength, whereas black tea can protect against cancer. Its consumption has also been associated with a lower risk for Parkinson’s disease.

Watch the Alcohol

Your favorite cocktail might be the culprit behind your weight gain! To keep your waistline in check, try to subtract something from your diet for every drink you have. A glass of wine has about 150 calories, and a shot of vodka or a bottle of beer has about 100.

If you want to have a drink, go for something simple like wine or beer. Choose rose or white wine over red and try to avoid cocktails that mix a bunch of sweet liqueurs, juices, and sugary soda. Always skip pre-made cocktail mixes such as margaritas.

Clear liquors like vodka and gin mixed with club soda and a twist are great low-calorie alternatives. Club soda is 0-calorie and sugar-free, and it dilutes alcohol and its effect on your cravings.

Make sure you have a snack high in protein, fiber, and healthy fats before you go out for drinks. Almonds or hummus with crackers can be great options. These will stabilize your blood sugar and fight later cravings triggered by alcohol.

It is important not to have more than two drinks per day — any more than that and you may be jeopardizing your weight and your health!


Artificial sweeteners: sugar-free, but at what cost? Harvard Health Publications. Retrieved on Feb 23.

Soft Drinks and Disease. Harvard University T. H. Chan School of Public Health. Retrieved on Feb 23.

How to Drink Without Gaining Weight. Health.com. Retrieved on Feb 23.

13 Reasons Tea is Good For You. TIME. Retrieved on Feb 23.

Reviewed February 24, 2015
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

Add a Comment2 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

Thanks, Nazli for your article. I do agree that we should think about what we drink. However, as a Registered Dietitian and speaking on behalf of the Calorie Calorie Control Council with years of experience as a medical nutrition therapist, I do not agree with your position on artificial sweeteners. There was actually a study in the International Journal of Obesity this fall that showed that non nutritive sweeteners do not stimulate or encourage exaggerated responses. I believe artificial sweeteners are safe to consume and can be an important tool in weight management. I see them as just another option and so do my clients. It's tough when you're first starting your weight loss journey and you feel options are limited. Products with low calories sweeteners can really help somebody in their weight loss journey. I've learned that by giving my clients options, they feel empowered to make the best choice they can for their lifestyle. -Amber Pankonin MS, RD, CSP, LMNT

March 3, 2015 - 4:22pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

We completely agree! Due to the vast body of evidence supporting the safety of aspartame, consumers should have every confidence in enjoying aspartame containing products without fear of adverse health effects. Whether it be included in the diet as part of a weight management regimen or as a means to control blood sugar levels, aspartame is a wonderful and safe option for individuals looking to improve their health without sacrificing taste!

Contrary to what was claimed here, well-conducted scientific research has steadily shown that sugar substitutes do not cause sweet cravings or promote hunger, but in fact results in consumption of fewer calories overall in controlled studies making it beneficial for diabetic and overweight/obese populations.

Full results of such studies can be found here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com...
and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pu...

Despite the misunderstanding surrounding the ingredient, aspartame is among the most studied and reviewed ingredients in the world and has been extensively tested, proven safe, and approved by all major regulatory agencies around the world including the European Food Safety Authority, Health Canada, and the FDA, among others.

We hope this information has been helpful to you and your readers.

Sweetener Council

March 6, 2015 - 9:46am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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