Are you drinking too many calories?

It’s now nearly the end of January and a range of competitions are just around the corner so many people will be trying to lose a few pounds for competition or are simply trying to get past their weight loss plateau from their post-Xmas diet efforts. Something that is really easy to forget in this situation, is not the calories that you eat but those that you drink.

1. You don’t get the same feeling of being full.
At a very basic level, unless you are going to be drinking a big thick milkshake, most drinks on their own will pass pretty quickly through your tummy. So it is pretty hard to feel full. There is the potential to feel bloated if you have drunk a lot of fizzy drinks. But overall you are not going to get the same full feeling that is the signal to stop when you are eating food. This makes it way easier to consume a large protein shake or smoothie which could easily be a meal’s worth of calories as a simple snack and still be hungry for more!

Oranges_and_orange_juiceThinking about smoothies and fruit juices whilst they taste great the process of making them often removes a lot of the fibre. This means that you can drink way more than you can eat. So you could probably easily drink the juice of 6 oranges, but it would be hard to eat 6 full oranges. Even though fruit juices are considered healthy it can be easy to drink a lot of the stuff in one go. So if you really like fruit juices, why don’t you consider adding water?  A quarter of a glass of juice topped off with water, will reduce the calories that you are drinking but still give you the fruit juice taste that you enjoy.

Protein shakes are another thing that can easily boost your calories (a scoop of whey protein is about 115 calories). How much protein you actually need is another blog topic but you might want to look at why you use them in your diet. If its meal replacement is there a food prep alternative that will not only help you feel fuller for longer but provide those all important macros. Or are you taking them after late-night training for recovery? Personally, I started to make my shakes with water rather than milk and only used them when I need a quick pre-weight training breakfast (easily digestible). Then in the evening, after training, I swapped my shake for a banana and some BCAA which reduced my calories but gave me the same of better recovery benefits. Bananas also add the extra added bonus of supporting sleep! Again its horses of courses but a few clever swaps can see you saving 100 or so calories easily.

2. But I need my morning brew/caffeine fix!
Let’s be honest I’m never going to tell you to deprive yourself of your morning brew especially if you’ve just got to the office the morning after a hard training session! But if you can’t face your tea or coffee without some milk or extra sweetness your adding extra calories that can add up. A recently published list by Action on Sugar can be found here, it shows how much sugar your hot drinks actually have in them.

IMG_9660There are alternatives out there including non-diary milk alternatives (I’ve found coconut milk lattes to be sweeter than standard ones so no need for added sugar or syrup). I’ve also found over time I can drink my coffee and tea darker, I’m also notorious for weaning one of my old coaches off his two sugar a cuppa habit – it took me a couple of weeks of cutting it slightly but before long he was on less than one spoon and his taste buds adjusted. Although my own guilty pleasure when it comes to coffee is flavoured syrups – I’ve tried low-calorie creamer and wasn’t a big fan but Jordans Skinny Syrups are awesome! All the taste but none of the calories and easy 100 calorie saving! (Cafe Nero also have sugar free syrups if you’re on the go)

If your caffeine is more about pre-workout then other alternatives are caffeinated sugar-free energy drinks (I admit it I like Monster, NOCCO and Muscle Moose) or my pre-competition old faithful of caffeine tables like pro-plus. Not exactly health food but it’s about choices and balance.

3. But I’m a pop addict?
I’m not really going to look at fizzy soft drinks as everybody know the potentially high amounts of sugar (as highlighted by the British Medical Journal). But some people really don’t want to drink artificial sweeteners either. For me, I try to reduce my intake and have flavoured water or sparkling water but the reality sometimes you just need a can of cola! When the urge strikes I tend to avoid the sugar and have the sweeteners.

4. A drink on a cheat day?
IMG_9521We all work hard and there is nothing better after a hard week at work that a nice drink.  However, alcohol contains nearly the same calories per gram as fat (9 calories per gram).   Plus if you have a drink with a meal your body recognises its by-products as toxins and chooses to break these down first over the nutrients in food. So when your body eventually gets round to metabolising the food, it may no longer require the calories, so they get stored as fat.  Now I am never going to say don’t drink but if you genuinely want to lose weight then moderation is key and making smart choices. You can find out the calories in your favourite drink is a really good alcoholic drink calories calculator here.

This article is not meant to condemn anything that you want to drink, we all have to enjoy our life,  and certain drinks and treats help with that.  It’s simply about adapting and tweaking to find what works for you. But if you are struggling to make weight then looking at your drink choices may be a solution for you.


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