Health & Safety

August 9, 2013

Take huge steps to better health — rethink sugary drinks

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There is no shortage of diets on the market nowadays. There are low-fat diets, low-carb diets and many more, each with their own unique benefits. However, watching what you drink is just as important as what you eat when it comes to successful dieting.

“It is easy to consume plenty of calories just through drinking, and we might not be aware of it,” said Aaron Anderson, 56th Aerospace Medical Squadron registered dietitian. “During dieting, we want to limit high sugar intake. This includes sodas and even juices.”

Water is one of the best options when it comes to switching out sugary beverages.

“Water is always a good choice because it is calorie-free and hydrates us,” Anderson said.

In addition to being calorie-free, water has other benefits.

“Water is not only zero in calories, it makes you feel alert, refreshed and provides the added bonus of nice skin,” said Janine Reinholtz, 20th Aerospace Medical Squadron dietitian, Shaw Air Force Base, S.C.

Water might not be the first choice of refreshment with a wide variety of sweetened drinks on the market, but there are ways you can flavor it to make it taste better.

“There is nothing exciting about water, but there are calorie-free beverages and sugar-free drink mixes that can definitely make our water taste better,” Anderson said.

In addition to drink mixes, fruit can be added to water, adding flavor and keeping the calorie count low.

“We can have fun with our beverages,” Anderson said. “We can slice up fruit and put those in a pitcher of water and let the water absorb the flavors from the fruit. It’s a fun way to flavor a beverage without adding sugar.”

Alcoholic beverages are also high in sugar.

“Alcohol contains about 100 calories per shot and don’t forget about the mixers that go along with alcohol as well,” Anderson said.

Sports drinks also contain sugar and might not be needed after a workout.

“Sports drinks can help with our performance in high intensity or long duration workouts, but during a 20 to 30 minute workout in the gym, they might not be necessary,” Anderson said.

By watching what one drinks, significant improvements can be made to a diet, Anderson said.

“In some cases, a few people have come to me and the only thing I had them change was what they drink,” Anderson said. “We haven’t even begun to change what food they eat or their exercises. They just changed from drinking high sugar drinks to drinks that were sugar-free, which produced significant changes.”

Anderson uses a formula to calculate how much weight one can lose simply by drinking healthier.

“Consuming 3,500 calories equals one pound,” Anderson said. “If I have a 20-ounce soda a day, which contains 500 calories, every day of the week, that adds up to 3,500 calories. By eliminating that drink, a person could lose a pound a week. If a person could just switch their drink, they could take a huge step in the right direction.”




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