It starts in the morning with coffee, cream, and sugar. Or maybe a glass of juice. Perhaps a Frappuccino?
Lunch might include a soda, and in the afternoon you might reach for another coffee with sugar, a sweet tea, flavored water, or a sports drink. With dinner you might enjoy a glass of wine, a beer, or a cocktail. If you’re dining out- maybe another regular or diet soda.
Stop drinking your sugar. All of these beverages contain a substantial amount of sugar: from 2-10 teaspoons each. In liquid form, this added sugar is processed quickly by the body- leading to blood sugar spikes- and crashes later. Not to mention hundreds of empty calories. When too much sugar is in your system (as in even one serving of a sugary drink), the excess sugar is stored as fat. Sugar crashes leave you seeking more sugar to regain energy. And liquid calories can add up quickly- they are the most notorious culprits in weight gain.
Anti-obesity campaigns have indicated that soda drinking is one of the greatest factors in the obesity epidemic. But sugar can be found in many other drinks that are not soda. Be label-savvy. Four grams of sugar equals one teaspoon. Read the labels on what you’re drinking to know how much sugar you’re consuming.
What about diet soda and diet drinks?
While diet soda technically contains no calories or sugar, the sugar substitutes can be very hard on your body. The sweetness from the artificial sweeteners can increase sugar cravings making it harder to say no to more sweet drinks or foods. Artificial sweeteners also confuse your body by making it difficult to recognize real sugar when you consume it. Since artificial sweeteners cannot be used for energy, the body begins to think that real sugar cannot be used for energy either, and instead it is automatically stored as fat.
What about 100% juice?
Store-bought, pasteurized juice- the majority of juices found in grocery stores- can contain ten teaspoons of sugar per serving! Yes- the stuff is made from fruit, but through the pasteurization process, all of the nutrients have been eliminated. And because it’s in liquid form, the fiber from the fruit has been eliminated meaning the sugar is processed immediately. We’re used to giving juice to kids, but we need to get out of this habit. Childhood obesity is on the rise and fruit juice is really no different than soda.
If you must have juice, choose freshly-pressed green or vegetable juice with few or no fruits (which contribute the majority of sugar). These juices are made fresh at juice bars and in some health food stores.
What about sports drinks to hydrate me post-workout?
Few of us workout hard enough to require sugar in our post-workout refreshments. Sports drinks and juices are simply liquid sugar, and plain water is our best source of hydration. Even coconut water can contain four teaspoons of sugar per serving and is not a great option for regulating blood sugar or losing or maintaining weight.
So what should I drink?
Water. This timeless beverage will provide you with all the hydration you need. Drink as much as you can: at least 8-10 glasses per day. Aim for drinking a cup of water every 1-2 hours. Jazz up your water with slices of lemon and lime.
Unsweetened coffee and tea. If you’re used to adding sugar to your morning pick-me-up, start by reducing the sweetener by ¼ teaspoon a day. Buy a higher quality coffee and enjoy its natural flavor. And mind your cream and milk. Dairy products contain natural sugars which might contain enough sweetness for you to still enjoy your morning joe without the sugar packets.
Fresh-pressed juice. While you may not drink this on the daily, fresh-pressed juice, which is unpasteurized, can be a great thirst-quencher or snack. Look for vegetable juices made of greens and few or no fruits for the best benefits. The Evolution juices at Starbucks are becoming a popular commercial brand of fresh juice.
Without the sticky sweetness of liquid sugar, you will find yourself with more energy and balance throughout the day. You will notice your cravings decline, and you will eventually discover that liquid sugar is just too sweet and no longer welcomed in your daily routines.
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