Trying to Lose Weight? Watch What You Drink!
One in three people in the United States is obese, while more than half of all Americans are considered overweight. This is a significant increase from just 20 years ago, when one-fourth of Americans were obese.
Are we eating more fat? Not necessarily. Studies have shown that the average American consumes about 83 grams of fat each day, compared to 81 grams in the '70s -- not a significant change. Fat as a percentage of calories in a person's daily diet is actually lower than it was 20 years ago.
A possible culprit? "People are drinking more calories than ever before, but they are not adjusting what they eat to compensate for those calories," said Christopher Salerno, D.O., an internist on staff at Lourdes Medical Center of Burlington County.
With the explosion of retail beverage and coffee shops, excessive beverage servings can add hundreds of calories to your diet. "The good news," said Dr. Salerno, "is that you can change how much and what you drink."
Here is some important information to consider:
- What's in your smoothie? Smoothies have spilled out of health food stores and gone mainstream. They can be a great way to increase your daily servings of fruit. But, like many commercialized foods, the store-bought smoothie can contain more fat, sugar and calories than its healthy appearance suggests. The best bet is to make your own at home with fresh fruits and fat-free milk or yogurt. See the sidebar for an easy, healthy recipe.
- Watch those coffee drinks. While regular coffee (without added sugar or creamer) has zero calories, a 16-ounce café mocha averages 300 to 350 calories. A 16-ounce frozen coffee drink can have 500 calories or more depending on what "extras" you have added. Whipped cream alone can add more than 100 calories! Try to limit these coffee beverages to occasional treats.
- Alcohol. Alcohol is another underestimated calorie source. A 12-ounce beer, a 7-ounce glass of wine or a 2.5-ounce martini each adds around 150 empty calories. And that can double if you're drinking a tall glass of a creamy mixer such as piña colada. In addition to contributing to extra weight, research also shows that alcohol in higher amounts can cause cancers of the breast, esophagus, stomach and colon.
Get a FREE fast-food nutrition guide to help you make healthier choices when eating out. This pocket guide includes information on all major fast-food restaurants, as well as popular coffee and beverage shops. Call 1-888-LOURDES (568-7337) to order.