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Rethink Your Drink

Summer is fast-approaching and many, especially those of us in school, will need a few extra cups of coffee to push us through the home-stretch until we’re kicking back on vacation with a cold drink. Refreshing yourself on healthy beverage choices now can save you wondering where those extra pounds came from later!

Many of us have seen the classic demonstration showing the amount of sugar in a can of soda and the result is an alarmingly large pile of sugar. (For those of us who haven’t – click here!) Even after seeing this demo, it’s important to understand the impact beverage consumption has on the average diet. Children average about 225 calories per day from sugary drinks and 25% of adults consume at least 200 Calories worth of sugary drinks as well. Even worse, most of these individuals don’t decrease their food intake; they consume the extra calories in addition to their food intake. Since we discussed the dangers of over-consumption of added sugars back in National Heart Health Month, this month we’ll focus on easy substitutions for common sugary drinks and tips for avoiding some other ingredients hiding in your beverages.

Don’t let your morning stop at the coffee shop derail your healthy day! A grande frappuccino from Starbucks will add 240 calories and a whopping 50 grams of sugar to your morning routine. The recent limited time unicorn frappuccino had a whopping 410 calories and 62 grams of sugar for a grande (16 oz). Simply switching to a cup of unsweetened tea or black coffee could put you well on your way to a healthier lifestyle. Remember, you can always brew your own coffee and tea to control how much milk and sugar is added and maybe save some money along the way!

Starbucks Frappuccino (16oz) Home-Brewed Coffee w/ 2 tsp Skim Milk & 1 tsp Sugar (cup)
240 Calories 25 Calories
50g Sugar 5g Sugar
What Else? Natural And Artificial Flavors, Xanthan Gum, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid What Else? A morning pick-me-up you can feel good about

When lunch time rolls around on a hot day it’s easy to reach for a cold Gatorade with your meal. Unless you’ve been exercising intensely, a sports drink is not the best choice. A 12oz sports drink will add 80 Calories and 21g sugar to your lunch, but you can get the same refreshment from home-made flavored water. If you’re feeling fancy, try some of these recipes from the Food Network, but any infusion water bottle makes preparation a quick and easy task for anyone!

Gatorade (12oz) Home-Made Fruit-Infused Water
80 Calories <5 Calories
21g Sugar <1g Sugar
What Else? Citric Acid, Gum Arabic, Sucrose Acetate Isobutyrate, Yellow 6 What Else? Water-soluble vitamins from fruit including Vitamin C

You’ve made it through the day making healthy beverage choices; don’t let your drink with dinner throw you off course. Cocktails often contain flavored liquors, fruit juices, and simple syrups that add lots of calories and sugar. Swapping in a glass of red wine or a light beer can save up to 500 Calories! If you prefer a mixed drink, try using club soda as a mixer with fresh lemon or lime.

Chili’s Patron Margarita Vodka Soda with Lime
310 Calories 100 Calories
39g Sugar <1g Sugar
What Else? Enough extra calories to make a second dinner What Else? Guilt-free refreshment

You may have noticed some of the additives and preservatives in the drinks we discussed. Just like food products, many drinks on the market today are full of artificial additives, preservatives, and sweeteners. Many diet and low-calorie drinks seem appealing at first glance, but their ingredients list might as well be written in a different language. With all your food and beverage choices, if you can’t picture all the ingredients, consider finding an alternative or preparing your own. Meet with your Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for more help rethinking your drink and carefully reading nutrition labels!

Brian Behring
Graduate Student, Drexel University
MS In Human Nutrition






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