Hopkins Academy

Are You Drinking Your Calories Away?

In Features on October 20, 2011 at 12:43 pm

Taylor Jo ’12

Obesity has become an epidemic in today’s society. Large portion sizes and a low physical activity level contribute to this problem, but are they the main sources? Possibly not. You may be consuming your daily calories with that BK chocolate milkshake, Starbucks Frappuchino, Jamba Juice shake, or 7-11 Double Gulp. People do not realize that beverages play an enormous role in your daily calorie uptake. A study conducted at Purdue University has shown that too many liquid calories can lead to an extra 358 calories a day.

A panel from the U.S. Nutrition Experts have come up with “The Beverage Guidelines”, with the panel’s Chairman Barry M. Popkin, PhD, professor of nutrition, stating “Everybody — parents, adults, and teenagers — has to realize what they drink is adding to their weight.” Yes, beverages play that big of a role. Also mentioned in the new guidelines is the point that there’s no need to get nutrition from beverages if we just keep a well-balanced diet. That means, all we really need to drink is water. But how many of us only want to drink water? Not very many. That’s why there is a practice known as moderation, along with healthier beverage choices. So what’s recommended? Coffee drinkers? A little caffeine is good for you, but don’t drink more than 400 mg a day. Plus, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, drinking a lot of coffee can increase your risk of developing heart disease.  Like milk? Stick to either skim or low-fat, not whole! Milk should be consumed up to, and not exceeding, 16 oz a day. And now of course, comes the all-time favorite: soda! Surprisingly, soda is not proven to be “bad” for you, yet, but with the amount of caffeine it offers and the calories, it should be kept in moderation. One more popular beverage choice includes fruit juices. Fruit juices are advertised to be very good for you, but according to Popkin, “Fruit juice has nothing in it you can’t get from whole fruit — and it has a lot more calories.”

And while it is soccer season, and staying hydrated is as important as ever, what you drink is just as important. This is also a time when people are tempted to purchase sugar filled drinks with high calories in order to “have energy for the game”. Wrong move! That drink may have you feeling “more hyped”, but it sure isn’t helping your health. And as an add-on, you sometimes can experience a horrible crash. One of the worst things someone can do is to replace a meal with a liquid drink, such as a smoothie. Yes, at the time, you feel full faster, replacing a needed meal. But, studies have shown that beverages have weak satiety properties, which means it is less satisfying as if you were to eat an actual meal. As you can probably figure out, this means you will be tempted to eat again sooner, packing on the daily calories. You may not be a person who counts calories, but if you notice you are gaining weight unintentionally, you may want to start tracking what you are eating and drinking.

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