Rethink Your Drink: Liquid Calories

Energy balance is the key to weight loss.

This means that at a minimum, we must balance physical activity (calories out) with food and beverage intake (calories in) to make sure we don’t gain weight. While food choices are important, there’s increasing evidence that many of us may be drinking our way to weight problems.

Studies suggest calorie intake from beverages has more than doubled since the 1960’s, primarily due to a surge in soft drink, sport drink and sweetened tea consumption. More importantly, according to research, we DON’T balance these increased liquid calories by increasing our physical activity or taking in fewer calories from food.

Why is that??

It’s because our bodies don’t get ‘full’ from liquid calories. Our minds aren’t built to register calories consumed from liquids in the same way we process calories we get from solid foods. Think of it like a bill you forgot about. Whether you realize how much it cost or that you even got charged, it still has to get paid!

In a study at Purdue University, an experiment referred to as, the ‘Jelly Bean test’ was done to consider the difference between liquid calories and those obtained from solid foods. One group of participants in the study were served 450 calories a day in jelly beans while the other group was given 450 calories in soda or other liquids. What they found was that those who ate the jelly beans compensated by eating less food while the soda drinkers did not!

So how do you make wiser choices?

Drink plenty of water. Water is the perfect beverage. There are no calories, it helps your muscles and brain stay hydrated, contributes to optimal physical and mental performance and most importantly, helps you eat less if you drink before and during meals.

Next, limit your juice intake. While 100% juice is a great source of several key nutrients, it’s important to note that they are often carb-heavy and fail to include the amount of fiber found in the actual fruit or vegetable used to make it.

Another tip – Use your blender: Make your own juice and add ice. Adding vegetables (like spinach, kale, carrots etc.) and sweetening juices with your favorite fruits (like an oranges, apples or bananas etc.) is a great way to ensure you get the fiber you need to help you feel full and stay regular. Adding water and especially ice is a great way to make it come out thick, so your homemade drinks feel more like meals and less like drinks.

With genetically modified foods, pesticide-ridden produce and tight schedules that make preparing to eat right tough, we have enough to worry about in regards to what we put in our bodies. Don’t let what you drink be another thing that sabotages the hard work you put towards your health. Be sure to ask us about any concerns you have regarding smart beverage options! Good luck in your health quest. See you in class!


International Journal of Obesity