The saying that “you are what you eat” may be true but this is just half the story. Technically, you’re also what you drink. Liquids offer calories and nutrients – even if you don’t realize it. Keep in mind that drinks don’t have the same effect as solid food.
They actually leave you less satisfied, according to a 2011 study. This can mean trouble when you’re trying to stay healthy. Even worse, many drinks on the market are packed with sugar, artificial flavoring, and unnecessary calories. Here’s what you should avoid.
1. Sports Drinks
Sports drinks are designed to replenish electrolytes that you lose while sweating.1 But despite what the ads say, a glowing green beverage isn’t the answer.
First, look at the artificial coloring. No natural, healthy drink should be that bright! Many brands add artificial flavoring and sugar to make it taste better.
Unless you work out for more than 60 minutes, water is just fine.2 Otherwise, make a homemade sports drink to skip the sugar. Warm lemon water would be a great alternative.
2. Diet Soda
Soda shouldn’t be a surprise, but diet soda isn’t any better. On the short term, they’re useful for weening yourself off of sugar, but the artificial sweeteners can actually work against you.
Compared to real sugar, artificial sweeteners are much sweeter.3 Yet, they don’t satisfy the same taste pathways in the brain, which increases your sugar cravings.4 Artificial sweeteners also don’t offer calories, leaving you hungry and craving sugar. Hello, appetite.
3. Fruit Juice
When it’s called “fruit juice”, it must be healthy, right? Not really. Bottled fruit juice is basically liquid candy. It’s even worse if a drink is called “fruit cocktail” or “fruit drink.” There might be fruit flavors, but it’s far from the real thing.
Fruit juice gets its sweetness from sugar. For example, canned fruit cocktail has about 25.74 grams of sugar in one cup.5 That’s almost 100 calories. Note that veggie juice is in the same boat. To avoid the added sugar, make juice at home. Invest in a juicer and use fresh, whole produce.
4. Bottled Coffee Drink
After water and tea, coffee is one of the most consumed drinks in the world. It’s also packed with antioxidants, but the bottled kind should be avoided. A bottle of flavored coffee can have about 30 grams of sugar, 180 calories, and even saturated fat.6
It’s not the best trade-off for a convenient drink. Make coffee at home instead. If you must have a latte, brew a fresh cup and add non-dairy creamer, cinnamon, and pure vanilla extract.
5. Bottled Lemonade
Commercial lemonade is just as bad as soda. Most are made with sugary powder mixes, a cheaper alternative to real lemons. One cup can have about 9.24 grams of sugar or more.7
Only sip on lemonade made with real lemons. When you’re eating out, order a glass of water with lemon. Another option is to infuse water with fruits at home.
These drinks might seem healthy at first. However, the label can tell you so much more. When in doubt, make it at home – or drink water instead!
|↑1||Fluid and Electrolyte Balance. MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑2||Maughan, Ron J. “Fluid and electrolyte loss and replacement in exercise.” Journal of Sports Sciences 9, no. S1 (1991): 117-142.|
|↑3||Artificial Sweeteners. Harvard T.H. Chan, School of Public Health.|
|↑4||Frank, Guido KW, Tyson A. Oberndorfer, Alan N. Simmons, Martin P. Paulus, Julie L. Fudge, Tony T. Yang, and Walter H. Kaye. “Sucrose activates human taste pathways differently from artificial sweetener.” Neuroimage 39, no. 4 (2008): 1559-1569.|
|↑5||Basic Report: 09097, Fruit cocktail, (peach and pineapple and pear and grape and cherry), canned, juice pack, solids, and liquids. United States Department of Agriculture.|
|↑6||Full Report (All Nutrients): 45136872, STARBUCKS, FRAPPUCCINO, CHILLED COFFEE DRINK, S’MORE, UPC: 012000044779. United States Department of Agriculture.|
|↑7||Basic Report: 14288, Lemonade, powder, prepared with water. United States Department of Agriculture.|