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Healthy Living Blog

Information and inspiration to help you make a habit out of living healthy.


Gulp! What's Really in Your Beverages?

Thursday, March 09, 2017

By , YMCA Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

All too often, I hear friends, clients and family members vent their frustration at their failed efforts in weight loss. "I'm exercising! I am eating less! The weight should be falling off!"

But the number on the scale doesn't budge. They are ready to throw in the towel and revert back to old habits. Sound familiar?

Before you give up on your health goals, let me ask you one more question: What are you drinking?

"But, Jen, drinks don't count! My McDonald’s sweet tea, Starbucks Frappuccino, Sonic Cherry Limeade, and Cokes aren't affecting my weight or health!"

Hear me out. Many individuals don't realize that all calories count. And almost every beverage—with the exception of water and plain tea or coffee—contains added sugars and/or fats which add extra calories. Plus, most of these high-calorie drinks offer virtually no nutritional value.

Is this you? Are you drinking large amounts of calories without healthy benefits?

Let's take a closer look at how some popular beverages add up.


When it comes to liquids, water is the champion of all!

It offers an abundance of benefits like increasing energy, promoting weight loss, flushing out toxins and boosting the immune system. Water is also 100% calorie and sugar free.

Most people are aware of this; however, we’re still not drinking enough of it. It is recommended that an individual consume 64 oz. of fluid a day, and AT LEAST half of this should come from straight water. Some simple ways to help you drink more H2O include tracking your intake, carrying a water bottle and drinking a glass with every meal.


Now, if you aren't ready to give up your favorite high-calorie drinks, look for ways to make modifications or cut down on the calorie/sugar intake.  For recommendations on daily sugar intake, check out our post on added sugars.

Here are five ways to drink healthier:

  1. Choose the smallest cup. Don't supersize it!

  2. Add a water. At sit-down restaurants, order a water along with your high-calorie beverage and alternate drinking them during the meal.

  3. Scale down the sweet tea. Order your tea half sweet/half unsweet.

  4. Spruce up your water! Add lemon, lime, cucumber or mint leaves to flavor water naturally.

  5. Cut the coffee calories. When ordering coffee beverages, choose non-fat milk, skip the whip and ask them to cut the flavoring by half.

Lastly, ask yourself this question: Do I prefer to eat or drink my calories? Whether your goal is weight loss or just to be healthier, calories do matter. If you choose to drink large amounts of calorie-ridden beverages, you have to cut back somewhere else (food). And as always, consider the nutritional value of what you are putting in your body. Give your body foods and beverages that will give back!

Get stronger in spirit, mind and body

Ready for a healthier balance in life? Get more information on nutrition counselingwellness support, and small groups offered at a center near you. Let us partner with you to reach your goals!

YMCA of Middle Tennessee

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Nashville, TN 37203
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