Empty Calories- Don’t Drink Your Calories

Empty Calories- how to avoid them!

When my clients, readers and followers are trying to lose weight, their focus is understandably centred on the foods they should and shouldn’t be eating. However, when I ask someone who is struggling to lose weight to tell me everything they’re drinking, I’m always shocked by by how many people say that they start their day with a latte or fruit juice, followed by drink 4-6 cups of milky tea throughout the day….this is the start of empty calories.

Most people know that sugary drinks are something to avoid when you’re trying to eat healthy and lose weight. But what people don’t know is that even so-called “healthy” drinks can be a huge source of hidden calories and carbs and can very often be the reason the weight is not coming off. Granted, it can be easy to overlook these “empty calories“, as we’re told that things like juice are “all natural” and “one of our five-a-day” and because Starbucks puts “coffee” on their menu which is, in reality, actually a milkshake (case in point: a Starbucks white chocolate mocha is 620 calories; pair that with a muffin at 350 calories and you’ve eaten half your daily calories before you’ve even got to work).

If you’re trying to lose weight, here are some beverages to avoid completely to stop consuming empty calories and alternatives to them.

Juice: Even if it’s made from 100% fruit juice with no added sugar, juice is not a good choice for weight loss. When you eat a piece of fruit, you consume with it fibre and roughage, which fills your stomach and serves as nature’s way of preventing you from consuming too much sugar. However, when you drink a 330 ml (the small bottle size) of Innocent orange juice, you are drinking the sugar of 4 oranges. Remember, there is no such thing as “good” sugar, and for this amount of sugar (just over 25g in 330 mls), you might as well be starting your day with a bag of Maltesers (20g of sugar per bag).

Alternative: There is no better thirst quencher than water. You can slice up oranges, apples, cucumbers, lemons, or whatever other fruit you fancy in put it in a jug or bottle to have chilled, slightly naturally sweetened water on hand whenever you’re thirsty.

Lattes, Cappuccinos, Mochas: Most of my clients know that I am anti-dairy, so when they say “well, I start my day with a soya latte,” I suppose they think I won’t mind. The trouble is, even lactose free, a latte or cappuccino still has around 150 calories. Worse, most major coffee chains use sweetened soya (which I never advise my clients to drink). There is simply no point in drinking these calories when you can get the taste and kick of coffee elsewhere.

Alternative: You don’t have to give up your caffeine habit. An Americano or filter coffee has zero calories and you can add a couple tablespoons of soya milk or almond milk if you don’t like to drink it black. Instead of sweetening with sugar, use stevia or xylitol as those are natural sugar alternatives. You can sprinkle nutmeg or cinnamon onto coffee but never use the syrups as they are pure sugar.

Tea: Tea on it’s own has no calories, but when you drink several cups a day with milk and sugar, you are consuming tons of carbs without even realising it. Replace regular milk with sugar free almond milk or soya. Try to drink your tea unsweetened, or as an alternative try herbal teas in the afternoon such as green tea or chamomile, which will hydrate you and are calorie free.

Beer: While it certainly doesn’t help you lose weight, alcohol is a social lubricant so it’s unlikely that people wanting to live a healthy lifestyle can give up alcohol completely. But you can choose what you drink, and again alcohol is a place where hidden carbs and sugar are plentiful. Everyone knows what happens when you drink too much beer: a beer gut. Drinking a pint of lager can mean consuming 20 g of carbs. Drink two of those (which for many would be average) and you’re consuming the amount of carbs in a bagel.

Alternative: When you’re at the pub, it’s best to stick to low-sugar wines such as a dry red or white, the latter usually has less sugar. If you like spirits, never mix with fizzy drinks. Instead have vodka and soda water with lime and a splash (just a splash) of juice.