vick’s Take: Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid! (Or Any Other Sugary Drinks)
You know there may be a problem when the Mayor of New York City tries to put a ban on sodas and other sugary drinks over 16oz. I mean, from time to time our elected officials do try to look our for best interest…right?? Anyways, I thought I might elaborate on what the the fuss is all about when it comes to sugary drinks and how it affects your overall health and influences healthy weight management. First off, I think there are three main categories when it comes to sugary drinks:
Flavored Water (this includes fruit punch, lemonade, sweet tea and similarly sweetened beverages)
Soda is basically carbonated water, a buncha sugar (one 20oz bottle can have up to 18 tbsp of sugar!) some coloring and caffeine. Any drink that falls under “flavored water” is basically the same thing as soda without the carbonation. Fruit juice has a bit of a grey area so I’ll give it a little more attention. Some may argue that fruit juice is good for you because it has vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etc. If that’s your argument then just eat your fruit. That way you’ll get all those nice things without the added sugar. Unless your getting freshly squeezed (in front of you) juice, the chances are pretty good that the fruit juice your drinking has added sugar. Why add the sugar? Easy, because it makes it taste better! For comparison purposes, an 8oz glass of OJ has 120 calories, 24g of sugar, and 160% of days worth of vitamin C while one medium orange has a stat line of 70cal/12g/120%. The orange has 50 calories and 12g of sugar less than the orange juice and your still getting over 100% of your Vitamin C for the day. If that’s not enough to convince you then the 3.5g of fiber in an orange should. Despite Mayor Bloomberg’s best efforts, sugary drinks aren’t going anywhere. Beverage companies spend over $3 billion a year in marketing, a large percentage of which targets children. So needless to say, they really really want you to drink their sugary drinks and in their mind, bigger is better. Now I’m pretty sure that a sugary drink has never been the cause of a death–the Pop Rocks and Soda thing is an Urban Legend, Mikey is alive and well. The issue with sugary drinks is that they have been linked to several health risks which can cause death such as heart disease and type II diabetes. Sugary drinks can also lead to tooth decay (the dentist was right after all!) and kidney stones. Despite all these health risks, the reason why I am writing this blog is because of one health risk in particular, obesity. A 20oz soda sugary drink can have up to 240 calories. Two of those a day (480 calories) and your at almost 25% of the recommended daily caloric intake of 2000 calories. You like to get those super-sized sodas? A 64oz drink can have over 700 calories! Because most–pretty much all actually–of those calories are from sugar there is no nutritional value to them making them empty calories–aka liquid candy. Empty calories don’t make you feel full, therefore, they can easily add up and add weight if you’re not keeping track of how many calories you should be taking in or eating healthier. To give you an example of how quickly your weight can increase, if your TDEE (total daily energy expenditure or how many calories your body burns in a day) is 2000 calories and your caloric intake from your meal planning is 2000 calories then your at break even, meaning you won’t lose weight but you won’t put on weight. Now using that same example, if you add two 20oz drinks a day (480 calories) that’s 3360 additional (empty) calories a week or an additional pound of fat a week. If you’re not eating healthier and on a calorie controlled meal plan, it’s easy to put on 2 or more pounds a week! It’s no wonder that 2 out 3 adults and 1 out 3 children are clinically obese. The easy solution is to cut out sugary drinks all together but unfortunately, this is easier said then done. Just like with eating healthy and exercising regularly, starting out with a manageable goal with gradual improvement over time is the best strategy for long-term success. Switching to a light/lower calorie version or even half diet/half regular is a good way to start cutting out some of the empty calories from sugar drinks. I had a client years ago that would drink 8 cans of Dr. Pepper a day, or 1200 empty calories a day. He said switching to diet wasn’t an option so I suggested trying half diet and half regular Dr. Pepper. With no other changes to his nutrition or workout he still ended up losing 6lbs in the first month! I understand that there are many critics of diet drinks. If you are making a conscious effort to improve your nutrition and cut out unnecessary calories then switching to diet drinks is ok with me…so long as it’s temporary. Regardless of whether you choose to go with a light/lower calorie option, go half diet/half regular or switch to diet, the long term goal is to cut them out completely. Besides, you can always have one of your favorite sugary drinks with your cheat meals!