Quenching your thirst could add calories

July 22, 2009|By LYNN LITTLE / Special to The Herald-Mail

It's hot and you want a cool, refreshing drink. You have many choices but some will significantly increase your daily calories.

o Sweet tea and soft drinks. These can contribute 200 to 300 calories a day. In addition to extra calories, they have very little nutritional value. Encourage your children to choose a cold glass of milk rather than these less nutritious beverages. Milk helps build strong bones and teeth and is a source of protein for their growing bodies.

o Fruit drinks. If you choose 100 percent fruit juice, the juice's calories come with nutrients. If you choose fruitade, fruit punch or a fruit drink, they are more likely fruit-flavored sugar water with a few nutrients. Read the label to be sure you know what type of fruit drink you have selected.

o Energy drinks. These beverages are designed to give you fuel and energy. They also come with lots of calories. There is quite a variety of energy drinks from which you can choose, so the nutrition facts on the side of the container can also give you valuable information that can help you decide which drink is best for you. These drinks are acidic, so the price you may pay for cooling off could be dental erosion. 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.


o Enhanced bottled water. Flavored, bottled water typically have 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, such as caffeine.

o Unflavored water. The best beverage choice to keep cool and hydrated is plain, unflavored water. It's 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 weather, the American College of Sports Medicine suggests drinking water cooler than air temperature because you will likely drink more and that will help boost your rehydration. The more active you are, the more water you should drink.

The best thing about water is that it is usually readily available and can quench your thirst without compromising your calorie intake or your food budget.

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

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