If you’re trying to lose weight, cutting out sugary drinks is one of the easiest diet changes you can make without feeling burdened by a strict diet while still reaping tons of benefits. However, before I get into this point, I’m going to preface this with a quick Nutrition 101 lesson.
Depending on one’s weight and fitness goals, calorie consumption should be limited to around 2000 calories daily. Generally, for smaller, shorter people and those with sedentary lifestyles, that number drops to around 1500. For those trying to lose weight, that number goes even lower to 1200. If you’d like to know specifically how many calories you should be consuming daily, measure your TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure). Simply enter your height, weight, activity level, and age, and the site will produce the number of calories you should consume daily.
Now that we’ve gone over the basics of calorie consumption, let’s talk about sugar consumption. An average person should consume between 50-70 grams of sugar daily. This number I grabbed from My Fitness Pal (the leading calorie counting site/app). The site also estimates personalized nutrition goals for you.
So now that the tedious stuff is out of the way, let’s all take a second to groan in unison about how awful soda is for our bodies.
Now doesn’t that feel better?
But the unfortunate truth is that sodas are packed with sugar and empty calories. What’s an empty calorie? Empty calories are calories that do not add any nutritional benefit to your diet. Empty calories include sweets, chips, sodas, and pretty much everything else you love. They taste amazing and leave you unsatisfied making you want to eat more. Taking a quick look at Dr. Pepper’s nutrition facts will tell you that one can (12 ounces) equals 40 grams of sugar consumed. That’s more than half of what one should be consuming in a day. And if you’re one of those people who consumes one at every meal, you’re easily tripling, possibly quadrupling, your sugar intake.
But why should you care about your sugar intake?
Well, for those who care about appearances, that excess sugar gets stored as fat. Even if you manage to stay in your maintenance range of daily calories, you will still store that sugar as fat. Ever wonder how people end up skinny-fat? By eating too much sugar and carbohydrates and leading a sedentary lifestyle. If your body isn’t using it, it becomes fat. That’s the simple answer.
And for those who care about their health, a high sugar intake leads to a life of diabetes. Are you the kind of person who enjoys Starbucks drinks on the daily? If so, I hate to sound morbid, but you’re on the fast track plan to diabetes.
Do you see why we collectively groaned in the beginning now?
As I mentioned earlier, soda is packed with empty calories. One can equals 150 calories.
But calorie counting is boring.
You’re right. But we need to think about it regardless. I personally see calories like money. I have a daily caloric budget and if I eat at maintenance, I stay skinny. If I overspend my calories, then I face repercussions: gaining weight.
So even if you don’t actively count every calorie you consume, it’s still important to look at how many calories are in something. For that one can of Dr. Pepper, you spend 150 calories when that could have been spent elsewhere. Another way to see it is by allotting a specific amount of calories per meal. If you eat 1500 calories a day, you could divide your calories up like this: 300 for breakfast, 400 for lunch, 600 for dinner, and 200 for snacks. Just like you would do with a money budget, you give yourself a spending goal for each mealtime. Personally, I spent 150 of my snack calories on my one soda, but with motive. I only have one soda a week, and I make up for it by eating fewer calories at mealtimes the day I drink it. It gives me something to look forward to and keeps me motivated in drinking water regularly.
However, while soda is a huge offender in sugary and calorie dense drinks, many people are fooled into thinking that eliminating soda and replacing it for fruit juice is healthier.
Sigh. Oh how I wish this was the case.
I, too, once fell for this thought process. It’s easy to do. In our minds, fruit = healthy, but unfortunately fruit juice is anything but. Juice is packed with sugar, just as much as soda. In 12 ounces of this White Grape and Cranberry juice, there are 39 grams of sugar and 150 calories, which is exactly the same as the soda! By replacing soda for juice, all you’re doing is consuming the same amount of sugar and calories, just with a different flavor.
It’s a harsh reality, really.
Even other drinks like Powerades and Gatorades are sadly loaded with unnecessary sugar and calories. And don’t even get me started on energy drinks.
So do your body a favor and cut it out with drinks other than water. If you’re as stubborn as a mule and can’t give up tasty drinks for plain, old water, flavor your water with Mio or buy flavored, sparkling water like LaCroix. Both add fruitiness to your drinks, the latter adding carbonation, but without the added sugar and calories. You’ll feel more hydrated and with hydration comes with even more benefits: softer skin and hair, stronger nails, and less under eye puffiness.
At the very least, if you can’t seem to let go of those tasty sodas, start drinking diet. They’re still not good for you with all that fake sugar in them (your body doesn’t know how to process it), but they have zero carbs, sugar, and calories. Alternatively, you can set aside one day of the week that you can drink the sugary beverage of your choice. It’ll give you something to look forward to while still doing a favor to your body.
One day, your body will thank you.
I hope this post was helpful to you. I post regularly on Wednesdays about nutrition, beauty, and fashion, so if you liked this post, please stick around for more nutrition posts that will help you better yourself and keep you nutritionally motivated.
If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below. I love hearing from you guys!
I’ll see you next Wednesday!