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How much ‘food’ are you drinking?

Are you hiking up your sugar intake with too many sugar containing beverages?

Healthy weight maintenance requires a balance between energy input and energy expenditure.  Sustainable weight loss therefore only requires the removal of carbohydrates that you are consuming in excess of what you need for energy.   Drinking beverages that are high in energy makes it easy to exceed your energy needs for the day. Beverages containing any form of carbohydrate can easily add energy equivalent to that of a meal to your day’s food intake. Additional ‘meals’ will naturally contribute to weight gain.

The key to keeping your energy expenditure greater than that of your consumption is to avoiding drinking energy containing beverages. Most people understand that sodas are very high in sugar but some products are deceiving. While they appear to be healthy with claims of ‘no added sugar’ or  ‘added vitamins’, they are as high in energy as sodas. In some cases, drinking a carbohydrate containing beverage can be the same as eating two slices of bread.  This escalates with increased volume and regular consumption.

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If the carbohydrate content is comprised of  sugar only, this is more problematic because the energy consumed is empty of any nutritional benefit. Fruit juice might seem like the healthier option but it too is energy dense. A number of portions of fruit are required to produce a glass of fruit juice. So while, there may be some natural vitamin content with ‘no added sugar’, portion control is necessary. Fruit juice should always be significantly diluted and enjoyed with a meal to prevent blood glucose spikes.

Flavoured water and water fortified with vitamins are the most deceptive because they appear to be water with a little embellishment. Vitamin addition implies additional health benefits to that of plain tap water. Again, these products can contribute an additional 2 slices of bread – per bottle – to your daily food intake. Be sure to read the labels on the beverages you enjoy frequently.

Alcohol is another beverage guilty of contributing extra energy, more so if it is mixed with an above mentioned sugar rich soda. Taking stock of what you are putting in verses what you are expending is important.  That said, substituting healthy food with high energy, nutrient deficient alcoholic beverages is not an advisable solution.  A moderate intake of alcohol is defined as 2 units per day for men and 1 unit for women.

If swapping sugar containing beverages for sugar free varieties, keep to a moderate intake of 1 glass per day and consume with a meal for good measure.  Sticking to plain water and a moderate amount of sugar in tea or coffee (1 teaspoon max) is an easy way to reduce your energy intake for weight management.

Only the permanent undoing of weight gaining habits will prevent the regaining of lost weight. Simple changes can go a very long way. You may not need to overhaul your entire diet. There might be just one or two key factors that are counteracting your healthy habits. Changing these destructive habits is the solution to long term success.

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