My buddy, Bill, came to me a while back looking for advice on how to banish the bulging belly he had acquired in his later years. I skipped the diet lecture and instead gave him a copy of the book, Eat This, Not That!, and a single piece of advice: Start with the drinks chapter.
Four months later, Bill has adopted the simple food swap philosophy and dramatically altered his calorie intake without giving up the foods and drinks he loves. His reward: 25 pounds and three inches off of his waistline — in around six weeks!
I told Bill to start with beverages because between soda, coffee drinks, smoothies, and booze, he was sipping away more than a quarter of his daily calories. He’s not the only one. A study from the University of North Carolina found that we consume 450 calories a day from beverages, nearly twice as many as 30 years ago! This increase amounts to an extra 23 pounds a year that we're forced to work off — or carry around with us.
There’s good news and bad news when it comes to liquid calories. The bad news is they are the most difficult calories for us to gauge, because we have none of the greasy, cheesy visual cues we get when we go face-to-face with a plate of loaded nachos or a triple cheeseburger. The good news is that they are the easiest calories to cut from your diet. Just ask Bill.
I've identified the most bloating beverages in gas stations, bars, smoothie counters, and coffee shops across America and replaced them with sensible and satisfying stand-ins for a fraction of the caloric cost. So you can sip what you want, skip the diet, and still lose lots of weight this year.
Double Espresso Macchiato
0 g fat
Large Caffe Latte
7 g fat
In the hierarchy of espresso drinks, lattes sit squarely at the bottom. That's because they're more milk than java, and are susceptible to huge pumps of sugary syrup from eager-to-please baristas. A macchiato gives the same caffeine kick for a tiny fraction of the caloric cost by swapping out the excess steamed milk for a thick crown of frothed milk. It's a simple but meaningful switch for caffeine junkies looking for a healthier fix.
Lunchbox Drinks for Kids
Minute Maid Fruit Falls Tropical (1 pouch)
1 g sugars
Capri Sun Pacific Cooler (1 pouch)
26 g sugars
Make this switch in the little ones' lunchboxes every day of the school year, and you'll cut 25 cups of sugar — enough to make 1,600 chocolate chip cookies — from their diet. But, still, I have to give Capri some credit: They recently announced that beginning this spring, they’ll be cutting the sugar and calorie content of their namesake beverage by 25 percent.
When asked why, a Capri Sun rep said that parents more than ever are looking for healthier choices that their kids will like. I couldn’t agree more, and it’s hopefully the beginning of an important sea change in the types of foods and beverages companies market to our kids.
Blended Fruit Drink
Krispy Kreme Very Berry Chiller (20 oz)
71 g sugars
Starbucks Venti Strawberries and Creme Frappuccino Blended Creme (20 oz)
120 g sugars
Let’s get one thing straight: Neither of these are the healthy, fruit-based beverages they may masquerade as. Little to no fruit goes into either of these, and in the case of the Starbucks Frappuccino, this drinkable disaster contains as much sugar as four Snickers bars. The Krispy Kreme Chiller proves to be a more reasonable indulgence, with little of the excessive added sugar or whipped cream that plague most blended "fruit" drinks.
Honest Green Dragon Tea (16 oz)
10 g sugar
Arizona Iced Tea (16 oz)
25 g sugar
Arizona Tea is a closer relative of the soft drink than the steeped beverage you read about in all of those health studies. That's because the beverage barons of Arizona have a heavy hand with the sugar, all but canceling out any of tea's formidable nutritional benefits. And in a recent analysis conducted by Men's Health, we found that Honest Tea packs more than six times the amount of metabolism-spiking, disease-fighting catechins as the Arizona calorie bomb.
For an entire list of the very best beverages for quick and easy weight loss, click here.
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