A new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) highlights the importance of watching the calories in the drinks you consume, in order to combat overweight and obesity, lose weight, and maintain a healthy diet.
On Wednesday, August 31, the CDC released a new report showing that half of Americans drink a soda or sugary beverage each day – and some are consuming a lot more.
One out of 20 people drinks the equivalent of more than four cans of soda each day, even though health officials recommend that sweetened beverages should be limited to less than one-half can per day.
“Most people try to reduce their calorie intake by focusing on food, but another way to cut calories may be to think about what you drink,” says the CDC.
Surprising Calorie Counts
In information for consumers and dieters, the CDC gives examples to illustrate the point that “calories from drinks can really add up,” to a surprising extent.
Here is one such example of how many calories you may perhaps unwittingly be adding to your daily diet by some typically fashionable drinks:
Morning coffee shop run: Medium café latte (16 ounces) made with whole milk — 265 Calories
Lunchtime combo meal: 20-oz. bottle of non-diet cola with your lunch —- 227 Calories
Afternoon break: Sweetened lemon iced tea from a vending machine (16 oz.) — 180 Calories
Dinnertime: A glass of nondiet ginger ale with your meal (12 ounces) — 124 Calories
Total beverage calories: 796 Calories
In this case, just your drinks could amount to almost 800 calories per day! To put this in perspective, consider that a typical weight-loss diet may allow you a total of approximately 1,000 to 1,400 calories per day.
In the above example, the CDC recommends substituting a small latte (12 oz.) at breakfast (125 calories), a bottle of water or diet soda at lunch (0 calories), Sparkling water with natural lemon flavor (not sweetened) at afternoon break (0 calories), and at dinner, water with a slice of lemon or lime (0 calories) or seltzer water with a splash of 100% fruit juice (2 calories). This would cut your daily calories for drinks to 125, or if you substitute plain coffee for the latte at breakfast, 0 calories.
The CDC provides lists of some of the common beverages that Americans consume, showing the number of calories they contain. Some of these calorie counts may surprise you:
Fruit punch — 192 (12 oz.); 320 (20 oz.)
100% apple juice – 192 (12 oz.); 300 (20 oz.)
100% orange juice –168 (12 oz.); 280 (20 oz.)
Lemonade — 168 (12 oz.); 280 (20 oz.)
Regular cola — 136 (12 oz.); 227 (20 oz.)
Sweetened lemon iced tea
(bottled, not homemade) — 135 (12 oz.); 225 (20 oz.)
Unsweetened iced tea — 2 (12 oz.); 3 (20 oz.)
Diet soda (with aspartame) — 0 (12 oz.); 0 (20 oz.)
Carbonated water (unsweetened) — 0 (12 oz.); 0 (20 oz.)
Chocolate milk (whole) — 208 (8 oz.)
Chocolate milk (1% low-fat) — 158 (8 oz.)
Whole Milk (unflavored) — 150 (8 oz.)
1% low-fat milk (unflavored) — 105 (8 oz.)
Fat-free (akim) milk (unflavored) — 90 (8 oz.)
Tips from the CDC
The CDC provides a number of tips to help you make healthy choices in the beverages you drink:
- Read Nutrition Facts Labels Carefully – They often give calorie counts in terms of “serving size” which may not be the whole container;
- Be Aware that Sugar Content May be Reported by Another Name — Some of the other names for sugar content that often appear on product labels:
- High-Calorie Culprits Can Appear 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,” the CDC says. “Check the Web site or in-store nutrition information of your favorite coffee or smoothie shop.” You can at least minimize the calories by requesting that the drink be made with low-fat (skim) milk, skipping added flavors and whip, and ordering the smallest portion. Or, just order plain coffee.
- Make Better Beverage Choices Easy for Yourself — Stock your refrigerator with water rather than sugary sodas; carry a bottle of water with you to quench your thirst; make water more exciting by adding slices of lemon, lime, cucumber, or watermelon, or drink sparkling water (seltzer); add a splash of 100% juice to plain sparkling water to pep it up while keeping your calories low.
- Form Good Habits — Choose water, diet beverages, or low-calorie beverages instead of sugar-sweetened beverages.
* Fruit juice concentrates
* Corn syrup
The CDC’s advice for consumers and dieters can be downloaded as a PDF Pamphlet: Rethink Your Drink
The new CDC Report on Consumption of Sugar Drinks in the United States, 2005–2008 is available from the CDC’s website.
The CDC provides more high quality nutrition resources (geared for health professionals) on its Weight Management Research to Practice Series site.
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