Most of us pay a great deal of attention to the foods we are putting in our bodies. We read labels, read information on nutrition, and probably take a multivitamin just for a little extra insurance. When it comes to our diets, food is well covered.
One aspect that often gets overlooked, however, is what we choose to quench our thirst with. No doubt you've got a good protein powder in place for your pre- and post-workout meals, but what about the beverages you choose to drink throughout the day? You may be quite amazed at the harmful effects they could be having on both your health and your body composition.
Here are some specific ones you should consider, not only for yourself, but also for parents and what your kids may be consuming as well.
Favored by many as a quick pick-me-up when you feel that afternoon crash hit in, or for some, used as a mixer with alcohol, this is anything but conducive to your dietary attempts.
Each 8.3 oz can is going to send 27 grams of sugar flowing into your body, causing your insulin levels to go up. For those on lower carb diets, one can could constitute an entire days worth of carbohydrates.
If you're looking for a healthier alternative to boost your energy mid-day, why not try out BSN's Endorush Drinks. You can get them in Fruit Punch, Grape, Lemon-Lime, or Orange, and not only are they almost calorie free, but they also will boost your energy, performance, endurance, mental focus, cognition, and serve to make sure your electrolytes are where they need to be.
It's definitely a better option than the former choice.
Sunsweet Prune Juice:
Packaged to look healthy, prune juice states it's not from concentrate. This must mean it's healthy, right? Wrong. For each 8 oz. serving you drink down, you'll be adding 180 calories and 24 grams of sugar to your daily intake. That's more calories and just about as much sugar as what's found in a cup of cola!
Do note, prunes are actually fantastic as a post-workout food due to their sugar content, so instead of opting for this beverage, have some fresh prunes washed down with Noni Juice, which contains the trace minerals you need to function optimally.
If you're a proud parent, you've likely sent your kids off to school with one variety of Hawaiian Punch before. While it may seem like a better option than them purchasing a Pepsi from the vending machine, that's far from the truth. Each 8 fluid oz serving of this red beverage will contain 120 calories and 28 grams of sugar.
Not only does this affect their body weight, but it will also create an energy high followed by a crash. As you've probably experienced a few times before, when you get an energy crash, your concentration level goes with it. The last thing you want is for your kids to be having trouble focusing in their afternoon classes.
Not to mention that this product also contains high-fructose corn syrup, one of the leading causes of weight problems amongst kids today.
If you're looking for a fruity tasting drink, instead of having one of these high-sugar options, consider one of the fruit-tasting protein powders. Syntrax's Nectar line is especially good.
Hershey's Chocolate Milk:
While milk is definitely a better option than many of the 'juices' that are available, if you opt for pre-made chocolate milk, you're getting more than you bargained for. Each cup of this drink will contain 270 calories, 5 grams of fat, and 45 grams of sugar.
There will be some protein—which is great, but that is just too much sugar to be consuming. Instead, opt for a ready to drink meal replacement in chocolate flavor such as EAS Myoplex. This is available in regular and light, low-carb versions, so there will be a product to match anyone's dietary needs.
Glaceau Vitamin Water:
More and more you are starting to see flavored water beverages coming to supermarkets and vending machines as an alternative to soda. While many of these are good replacements and are low calories (some even containing electrolytes for those involved in physical activity), some varieties you need to watch out for.
The Glaceau brand of vitamin Water will supply you with 125 calories per 20 oz and a whopping 33 grams of sugar. You might as well just have eaten a candy bar!
If you need to get your vitamins in, choose a good multivitamin that will help you meet your nutrient needs. Then, if you're looking to flavor water, have a look at some of the flavored amino acid products out there such as SciVation Xtend. By mixing this product with water, not only will you enhance the taste of plain water, helping it go down, but you'll also be providing essential amino acids to the muscles, helping with recovery and growth.
Starbucks Frappuccino Blended Double Chocolate Chip Crème:
Coffee lovers rejoice! Coffee has now been proven to have beneficial effects on the body, especially as it relates to exercise when consumed in moderate doses.
How you choose your coffee beverage though can mean the difference between you losing body fat and you rapidly expanding outwards.
If you choose to have your caffeine in a more dessert-like fashion, choosing Starbucks' ever popular Frappucino in the Venti size, you can tack on an additional 550 calories, 11 grams of fat and 79 grams of sugar to your daily diet.
For you women out there dieting and taking in between 1200-1500 calories a day, that will constitute a third to almost a half of all the calories you can have! Definitely not a sound way to diet.
If you are looking to get a dose of caffeine in, consider purchasing a caffeine supplement and then serving that up with a cappuccino flavored protein powder such as Dymatize Café Mocha.
Jamba Juice Green Tea Blast:
If you decide you're in the mood for a smoothie, you need to choose your options very carefully. While green tea offers many beneficial health benefits, taking it in the form of a Jamba Juice will leave you with 67 grams sugar. While post-workout this may pass as okay (if combined with a good source of protein), at any other time of the day, it is definitely not what you want.
If you're looking for the fat loss benefit of green tea, consider buying Designer Supplement's Lean Xtreme. It'll give you a good dose of green tea extract and is great for those who are both trying to lose fat or build muscle.
A very common choice among athletes involved in hockey, soccer, or track and field, Gatorade is known for its electrolyte balancing properties that keep muscular contractions occurring as they should.
While this is essential, if you consume the regular version of Gatorade, you're also going to be getting 125 calories and 35 grams of sugar. For those doing endurance activities, this may be okay as they are burning this sugar off.
For those of you who aren't out there running miles at a time, opt for Now's Arginine Power Super Stack. It will still help replenish your electrolyte balance just as Gatorade does, but will only contribute a measly 60 calories to your diet. This is much more appropriate for those who are looking to control their weight.
Tropicana Fruit Smoothie:
This is another one you may have sent your kids off to school with, or perhaps something you've reached for when you're in the mood for a fruity-tasting beverage. You definitely should include a few pieces of fresh fruit in your diet, but not from a drink such as this.
Each 11 oz. bottle consumed will contribute 220 calories and 44 grams of sugar to your daily diet. Do this every day on a regular basis (in addition to the other foods you'd normally eat) and you've just gained 1/2 a pound a week.
Not the best way to control your weight.
Instead, create your own smoothie by blending up fresh or frozen fruit, some low-fat, low-sugar yogurt, and adding in Syntrax Matrix 5.0 in Simply Vanilla flavor. This will give it that creamy taste of a real smoothie but really boost the protein content.
Baskin Robins Heath Cappuccino Blast:
Finally, coming in as the worst possible beverage you could consume, is the Heath Cappucino Blast from Baskin Robins. While it definitely will be tasty, if you decide to really treat yourself and go for a large, it's almost 1/2 pound's worth of calories! Each of these blended beverages ranks in at a massive 1240 calories, 55 grams of fat, and 161 grams of sugar.
Talk about a diet disaster.
You could always go for a small, but even then you are still packing away 600 calories, 25 grams of fat, and 78 grams of sugar. That's more calories than most people need in an entire meal!
If you hope to have any control over your weight, a drink like this better be a one-time occurrence, and considered your "cheat" meal of the week at that.
So, next time you feel your thirst calling for something, do your best to avoid these selected options. There are plenty of healthy, low or non-caloric ways to satisfy yourself apart from water so have a good look through your grocery store and get creative with ideas.
Even tossing a few pieces of sliced orange, lemon, or lime in water may be enough to jazz up the taste and prevent the boredom that often occurs after 8 glasses of water.
Make no mistake about it—drinks can destroy your diet.