Rethink your drink
Replacing just one sugary beverage with water could improve your health.
What are you drinking right now? Coffee? Soda? Fruit smoothie? Did you know that most Americans consume nearly half of their daily calories in beverages? The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend no more than 10 percent of daily calories come from sugar-added beverages. Coffee with milk or creamer, non-diet soda, fruit drinks, sports beverages and sweetened teas all contain a significant amount of empty calories; mostly in the form of added sugar or fat. Maybe the thought of giving up these drinks entirely terrifies you, but there’s good reason to avoid empty calories: A 2015 study by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that replacing one 8 ounces serving of a sugary beverage with 8 ounces of water improves health.
The study found that for those consuming one serving of a sugary beverage per day, that replacing that drink with water lowered calories from beverages from 17 percent to 11 percent. Keep in mind that most beverage bottles/cans/cups contain more than one serving. For those drinking more than one serving of sugary beverages per day, replacing one serving with water can still decrease the percentage of calories coming from beverages.
Let’s take a closer look at where all these calories are coming from. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) outlines a typical day of beverages including coffee with whole milk at breakfast, a bottle of non-diet soda with lunch, an afternoon iced tea drink, and ginger-ale with dinner. Just these four beverages account for nearly 800 calories! Replacing just one of those with water could knock the calorie count down by at least 100. So, how many sugary beverages would have to be replaced to keep the calories within 10 percent of our total daily intake? Roughly three of the four would need to be replaced with water.
Michigan State University Extension recommends trying to take small steps to improve intake of healthy beverages. Think about the beverages you drink in a day, and start by replacing just one of them with at least 8 ounces of water (it is recommended that adults consume 90-125 ounces of water per day). Once you’ve adjusted to that, try replacing a second drink per day with water. Spice up your water with fresh fruit, lemon slices or cucumber. Beverages with no added sugar, like diet soda, sugar-free iced tea or black coffee are also options to reduce calories, but they don’t have the added benefit of helping you reach your water intake recommendation for the day. Another way to reduce beverage calories is to water down things like fruit juice or sports drinks. Replacing half of the bottle with water can significantly reduce calories. Follow these tips to rethink your drink, and reduce calories from sugary beverages.