Friday Fast Fact: Don’t Drink Your Calories
As I often wrap up the work week with a food-related post, I thought I’d address one of the biggest mistakes I see people make all the time. The good news is it also happens to be a mistake with an easy fix.
You already know the most basic way to lose weight is to slash calories. Studies show the average person can drop a pound a week by trimming 500 calories a day. If you’re looking for an easy way to cut back, here it is: just say no to those sugary drinks!
Here are a few things I urge you to nix right now:
- Soda: You might be saying, “Oh come on, Laura, I only have one large Coke from the deli everyday for a caffeine fix.What’s the big deal?” I’ll tell you. That’s usually a 16-oz serving, which weighs in at roughly 187 calories. Cutting it out means you’re already 1/3 of your way to eliminating those daily 500 calories for weight loss. If you look at the bigger picture, you’re saving 1,2888 calories each week; 5,610 each month and a whopping 68,255 each year!
- Frosty coffee drinks: If your idea of a “light lunch” is “I’ll just have a (insert name of favorite frothy coffee drink here),” it’s time to re-train the brain a bit. Starbuck’ Mocha “Frappuccino” packs 400 calories while a vanilla bean “Coolatta” at Dunkin’ Donuts registers at 440 calories. Considering both have zero nutritional value and will most likely leave you hungry for real sustenance after, it’s easy to see how using these drinks in place of real meals is healthy-eating sabotage.
- Sugary cocktails: I’ve written several posts on how many frosty drinks are more like indulgent desserts thanks to ingredients like syrup, sour mix, sugary fruit juice and cream. Sipping drinks mixed with club soda, diet tonic water and a splash of citrus as opposed to full-on juice can help shave off hundreds of calories.
- Sports drinks: The truth is unless you’re a power or endurance athlete who plays a sport for more than an hour, there’s no need to re-hydrate with a high-calorie option like Gatorade or Vitamin Water. On days when I can can only squeeze in 30-minutes on the elliptical followed by a plank Tabata, I’ll burn approximately 350 calories. If I guzzle a sports drink, I’ll consume roughly 125 calories. So I walk away from my abbreviated workout with only 215 calories burned. That is not the post-cardio high I was looking for!
When in doubt, put down the syrupy beverage and load up on the water. The bottom line is good ol’ h2o will always be one of your best friends when it comes to keeping you on track with your plans to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
Friday’s Food For Thought: The Liquid Edition
We’ve had some warm and sticky weather here in New York City since the Memorial Day weekend, so I thought it was the perfect time to remind everyone about the importance of staying hydrated.
I often talk about the fact that the human body is an amazing machine, but it’s important to remember that machine is made up of two-thirds water. Like anything else, if you want the body to keep running properly, you need to give it what it needs.
Here are some of the benefits of staying hydrated:
- Regulation of body temperature
- Alleviating fluid retention
- Distribution of nutrients and oxygen to cells and organs
- Improvement of metabolic function
- Decreasing appetite
I’m still waiting to feel the effects of that last bullet point. I do my best to drink the recommended 5-7 glasses of water each day, but I don’t know how much effect it’s had on my overall appetite. (I love to eat!) However, I admit if I’m hungry and nowhere near a healthy snack, drinking a glass of water can stave off my hunger just long enough to avoid eating something I’ll regret later. (Chewing gum works in a pinch, too.)
Now let’s look at some of the physiologic effects of what happens when you don’t consume enough water and become dehydrated:
- Decreased blood volume
- Increased heart rate
- Increased core temperature
- Sodium retention
- Decreased sweat rate
Think of it this way: the body can go for a long period of time without food, but can only survive for a few days without water.
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) offers the following guidelines for drinking water when exercising:
- Drink 16 oz of water two hours before exercise. In warmer weather, you can add an additional 8 – 16 oz.
- During exercise, drink 20 to 40 oz for every hour of exercise.
- If you exercise for more than 60 minutes, you can re-hydrate with a sports drink containing up to 8% carbohydrate to replace both fluid and dwindling muscle glycogen stores.
- When exercising for 60 minutes or less, water is best. (My personal choice).
Here’s how I rationalize that last point: If I’m pressed for time and can only squeeze in a 30-minute elliptical session, I’ll burn up to 340 calories. During that time, if I guzzle a sports drink like Gatorade or Vitamin Water, I’ll consume 125 calories. So I walk away from a shorter than normal workout, and I’ve only burned 215 calories. That is not the post-cardio high I was looking for!
I realize some people simply can’t stand the blandness of water and need a little flavor. Luckily, there are lots of zero-calorie flavored water options available. Remember, having a flavored drink with zero calories (or 5 calories if you add one of those flavor-crystal packets to your water bottle) is better than NOT drinking anything at all.
In the end, raising a water bottle to your health is an easy way to have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!