How What We Drink Can Affect Our Weight and Health


Hello Everyone,

I thought that I would talk about what we drink. Everyone loves a long cool drink, but often we forget to think about how many calories and nutrients are in what we drink. The warm weather can leave us dehydrated, and it is important that we are all drinking lots of water, especially before we go to a class. There should be no risk to a healthy person of exercising in hot weather providing you make sure that you drink before, during and after exercise (water that is).

Often we exercise and watch what we eat, but forget to add in the amount of calories that we consume through drinks. Someone left a delicious bottle of lemonade in my fridge last week, and as I haven’t had a fizzy drink in ages, I got very excited and drank the lot over the course of the day. I was horribly shocked as I glanced at the label as it went in the bin to realize that I had consumed over 1000 calories! That is at least 3 aerobics classes worth of calories, and yet it looked harmless and tasted so delicious. From now on I am back on the sparkling mineral water.
As I look around me on the street and in our sports centers I see children walking along drinking from cans and cartons. A2001 report in The Lancet warned of a 60% risk of obesity for every can of high-sugar drink a child consumes each day. An average child in the UK consumes 15 high-sugar drinks each week. The best way to cut down the amount of simple sugars in your child’s diet is to cut out these unhealthy drinking habits. Try dilute fruit juice (you can change the dilution slowly to give your child a chance to adapt) or fizzy water with a little fruit juice. Good quality squash should be saved for treats, and kept very weak. The best drink for your child is water, and you will be surprised how quickly they adapt to enjoying it. It is useful to note that even fresh fruit juice is high in natural sugar and can add to weight problems, also the body has difficulty digesting fruit juices and they should be watered down.

Alcohol is high in calories (1g = 7kcal where as 1g of fat =9Kcal). In a perfect world, none of us would touch it, especially whilst following weight loss goals. However, in reality we all like a drink. It is important to keep your intake of alcohol under control – moderation is the key. While a 5 oz glass of wine per day at 100 calories may seem harmless enough, over two and a half weeks that’s approximately an extra 1,700 calories. This is equivalent to about a half a pound of body fat. That’s about 10 pounds of body fat, per year.

The Royal College of Physicians recommends that alcohol consumption be no more than 21 units a week for men; 14 units a week for women. It is better for health to spread alcohol units (up to the maximum recommended) throughout the week, than to drink large amounts in a single day or weekend. Therefore women should aim to consume no more than 2 units a day; men 3 units a day.

One unit of alcohol is the amount in half a pint of beer, a single (25ml) measure of spirit, a small glass (120ml) table wine, or a small glass (50ml) of fortified wine, such as sherry.

It is easy to see how even a “moderate” consumption of alcohol can have a very serious impact on your daily calorie quota: 3 units of beer could amount to a total 345kcal, 2 units of wine 160kcal.

How Many Calories in Various Alcoholic Drinks?

Calorie content

1 Pint/568ml Lager 230

1 Pint/568ml Beer, Bitter 182

1 Pint/568ml Cider, Sweet 240

1 Shot/25ml Spirits, 37.5% Volume 48

1 Bottle/275ml Alcopops (Calculated Estimate) 200

1 Glass/120ml Wine, Red 80

1 Glass/120ml Wine, White 77

Calories in Popular Mixers

Calorie content

1 Glass/250ml Tonic Water 83

1 Glass/250ml Cola, Coca Cola* 105

1 Glass/250ml Cola, Diet, Coca Cola* 1

1 Glass/250ml Lemonade 53

1 Glass/250ml Diet Lemonade 3

1 Glass/200ml Orange Juice, Unsweetened 72

1 Shot/25ml Lime Cordial 28

Ways to Reduce the Calories

o Try alternating alcoholic drinks with low calorie non-alcoholic drinks or water.

o Ask for low calorie / diet mixers where possible.

o Make your wine into a spritzer (a longer drink), or your lager into a shandy – both have fewer calories.

o Substitute your “alcopop” for a shot of spirit and a low calorie mixer – about a quarter of the calories!

o To add a healthy slant, try a single shot of spirits with some fresh fruit juices.

Don’t be tempted to skip meals to allow for drinks, alcohol won’t satisfy your hunger. In fact, alcohol lowers blood sugar levels (it prevents sugar that is normally stored in the liver, as glycogen, from breaking down). A drop in blood sugar levels sends signals to the brain you are hungry. With alcohol in your system, willpower can go out of the window and the snack attacks kick in. Eating a proper meal before you go out will line your stomach and slow the rate at which alcohol absorbs into your bloodstream. Keeping you in control of how much you eat and drink.

So the message is to enjoy a drink or two if you wish, but to support your body by eating before hand, drinking plenty of water, and not over-doing it.

Vikki Scovell BA(hons) PG DIP is a fully qualified Personal Trainer and Fitness Coach. She is a qualified Nutrition Adviser and runs successful Community Exercise classes. Vikki is a consultant in Healthy Eating and Exercise initiatives to schools in the independant sector. Visit her website on [] or []

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Author: Piyawut Sutthiruk

Losing weight will keep you healthy and have a long life. Cheer Up!

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