There are countless methods to losing weight out there. But if you want to shed a couple (or more) pounds, it all boils down to simple arithmetic. You lose weight by burning more calories than you consume on a consistent, daily basis. The path to the winning mathematical formula is one of consistent exercise and healthy eating.
You can’t, at least in the long run, cheat the formula by simply not eating or, on the other extreme, exercising for six hours a day and eating whatever you want. You need a balanced diet with a balanced exercise regimen.
I’ll get into caloric needs and requirements in an upcoming post. For now, I want to focus on one way to dramatically reduce your daily caloric intake that you can begin right now. There is one thing that nearly everyone can do beginning today that can have a significant impact on how many calories they consume – and it has nothing to do with eating.
I’m talking about cutting out sugary and calorie-laden drinks from your diet. Immediately. America has become obsessed with sugary, oversized drinks and it is evident in our collective waistline. We didn’t become obsessed with sodas, juices, and jumbo lattes until the middle of the twentieth century, and now recent studies estimate that up to 20 percent of the calories we consume each day come from beverages.
Take a minute to think about your average day and what beverages you consume. Coffee with cream and sugar for breakfast? Or orange juice? How about lunch – do you have a nice, healthy salad with an Arizona Iced Tea? A 20 oz. bottle of that tea, which is a typical size that we all buy, packs 239 calories and 59 grams of sugar! That 20 oz. caffeinated soda that we may have around 3PM everyday for a little energy boost has 180 calories and 44 grams of sugar. Besides being loaded with “empty calories” and sugar, the soda will only give you a little spike in energy, followed by a crash back to normal or below in a few hours.
If you think I’m overstating the caloric loads in sodas, bottled teas, or coffee beverages, just remember that one of those 20-oz. personal consumption bottles is actually 2.5 servings in most cases, so you have to do a little multiplication to get to the ugly truth.
Let’s just do some simple math. If the average healthy adult’s daily needs are 2,000 – 2,500 calories and that same adult has a regular coffee in the morning and a couple sodas throughout the day, that can add up to well over 500 calories. So in this scenario, the person would consume 20-25% of his daily caloric load in beverages alone! What’s worse is the fact that this same person is not drinking soda and coffee in lieu of eating, so the calorie chugging effectively adds 500 or so “empty” calories to his diet per day. We don’t need to do any more arithmetic to know that a habit like that cannot be good for the body in the long run.
What to do about it? The good news is that you don’t have to give up drinking anything that’s not water. Try cutting back on the amount of sugar or creamer you put in your morning tea or coffee. If you normally use two sugars, cut back to one for a month or so. Once you’re used to that (you will be), cut down to half, and then a month later, cut sugar out completely. I did exactly this and I haven’t had sugar in my coffee or tea in at least 5 years, and I don’t miss it a bit. If you’re using whole milk or creamer, try skim, non-fat, or fat-free half and half. Again, cut back in stages and develop your new habit over time, and it won’t seem as drastic.
If you drink several sodas a day, begin by replacing one or two of them with diet soda or preferably water. As time goes on, continue replacing your high-calorie beverages with water, and soon enough you’ll be weaned off completely. Once you are, stop and realize how much better you feel from drinking water and staying hydrated throughout your day.
If you need further motivation, check out Nutritiondata.com for calorie and sugar contents of your favorite beverages. While you’re there, notice that coffee and tea, by themselves, have few to no calories.
Have you had success with cutting high calorie beverages from your diet? What are some of your favorite low-cal drinks?