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Quench your thirst and space your waistline

August 13, 2013|Lynn Little

Today you have an abundance of options for thirst-quenching drinks. These tantalizing drinks may, however, add a significant number of calories to your daily intake.

Sweet tea and other sugary drinks can contain 50 to 100 calories per 8-ounce 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 (two or more tablespoons per can) and as much as three times the amount of caffeine in a can of cola. These drinks also are acidic so you could develop some erosion of teeth. 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.

If you select a 100 percent fruit juice, the juice’s calories come with nutrients. If the fruit drink is a fruitade, fruit punch or fruit drink, it’s more likely fruit-flavored sugar water with few nutrients. Read the food 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 in advance of going out, and check out the calorie count of your favorite brand. Consider sharing a frozen drink 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. Alternatively, 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 flavored, bottled waters.

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, and spare your waistline.

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

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