Sweeteners that add calories to a beverage go by many different names and are not always obvious to anyone looking at the ingredients list. Cutting out sugary beverages is a big step in making healthy diet choices. Some common caloric sweeteners are listed below. If these appear in the ingredients list of your favorite beverage, you are drinking a sugar-sweetened beverage.
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Fruit juice concentrates
- Corn syrup
High-Calorie Culprits in Unexpected Places
Coffee drinks and blended fruit smoothies sound innocent enough, but the calories in some of your favorite coffee-shop or smoothie-stand items may surprise you. Check the Web site or in-store nutrition information of your favorite coffee or smoothie shop to find out how many calories are in different menu items. And when a smoothie or coffee craving kicks in, here are some tips to help minimize the caloric damage:
At the coffee shop:
Order the smallest size available unless you are ordering plain black coffee.
Forgo the extra flavoring – the flavor syrups used in coffee shops, like vanilla or hazelnut, are sugar-sweetened and will add calories to your drink.
Skip the Whip. The whipped cream on top of coffee drinks adds sugar.
Get back to basics. Order a plain cup of coffee with milk and or drink it black.
At the smoothie stand:
Order a child’s size if available.
Ask to see the nutrition information for each type of smoothie and pick the smoothie with natural ingredients and no added sugars and syrups.
Hold the sugar. Many smoothies contain added sugar in addition to the sugar naturally in fruit, juice, or yogurt. Ask that your smoothie be prepared without added sugar: the fruit is naturally sweet.
Better Beverage Choices Made Easy
Now that you know how much difference a drink can make, here are some ways to make smart beverage choices:
Choose water or plain iced tea instead of sugar-sweetened beverages.
For a quick, easy, and inexpensive thirst-quencher, carry a water bottle and refill it throughout the day.
Don’t “stock the fridge” with sugar-sweetened beverages. Instead, keep a jug or bottles of cold water in the fridge.
Serve water with meals.
Make water more exciting by adding slices of lemon, lime, cucumber, or watermelon, or drink sparkling water.
Add a splash of 100% juice to plain sparkling water for a refreshing, low-calorie drink.
Be a role model for your friends and family by making water your preferred beverage choice.