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Quench your thirst, spare your waistline

August 20, 2008|By LYNN LITTLE

There are an abundance of options out there for thirst-quenching drinks. Many of these tantalizing drinks might, however, add a significant number of calories to your daily intake.

Sweet tea drinks have 30 to 100 calories per 8-ounce serving, according to Consumer Reports (at www.consumerreports.org). And many bottles contain 16 ounces of tea. Other sugary beverages contain more calories per serving. In addition to extra calories, these drinks have very little nutritive value.

Of particular concern are children who may be drinking these less nutritious beverages instead of milk, which helps build strong bones and teeth and is a source of protein for growing kids.

Energy drinks have lots of sugar (2 tablespoons or more per can) and as much as three times the amount of caffeine as a can of cola. These drinks also are acidic, so you could develop some dental erosion. With energy drinks, it's recommended that you use a straw to reduce contact of the liquid with your teeth or rinse your mouth with water after finishing the drink.

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If you select a 100-percent fruit juice, the juice's calories come with nutrients. If the fruit drink is a fruit-ade, fruit punch or fruit drink, it's more likely fruit-flavored sugar water with few nutrients.

Read the label to be sure you're getting what you think you are. For example, a kiwi strawberry juice drink and a 100-percent orange juice both provide 220 calories in 16 ounces. The difference between them is the nutrient content.

Frozen drinks are tempting on a hot day but some can make a major dent in an entire day's calorie allowance. Go online to your favorite vendor and check out the calorie count in advance. Consider sharing with someone so you can enjoy a tasty treat and spare your waistline.

Enhanced, flavored, bottled water typically comes with extra calories. Be sure to read the label and do the math if the label suggests the bottle contains two or more servings. You can add your own flavoring to water with a fresh-squeezed lemon or lime for a calorie-free drink. It's also worth checking the label for other additives in these beverages.

The best beverage choice to keep cool and stay hydrated is plain, unflavored water. It is calorie-free and, if it comes from the tap, it's a "greener" choice than bottled drinks or water.

Although it's typical to think of a cold drink on a hot day, you can drink water at the temperature you prefer. If you are exercising in hot temperatures, the American College of Sports Medicine suggests drinking water cooler than air temperature because that will help boost rehydration.

Water is usually readily available and can quench your thirst without compromising your calorie intake or your food budget. Drink water, spare your waistline!

Lynn Little is a family and consumer sciences educator with University of Maryland Cooperative Extension in Washington County.

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