HEALTH TALK: The best and worst beverages for weight loss

Many of us watch what we eat but not what we drink when on a diet. This is a mistake. The average American, to use an example, gets 20 percent of daily calories from beverages. Choosing the right drink can tweak your metabolism, curb your appetite, and reduce your total calorie count. Let’s look at some beverages to see which ones are spoilers and which are helpers on the path to weight loss.

SPOILER: SODA

Every time you drink a bottle of soda, you’re consuming hundreds of empty calories. The Centre for Science in the Public Interest (in the U.S.) says that carbonated soft drinks are the single greatest source of calories in the American diet. Switching to diet soft drinks is an obvious way to cut calories, but it’s unclear whether this switch results in weight loss. In some people, diet soda may increase their sweet tooth.

HELPER: WATER

Replacing carbonated soft drinks with water will cut hundreds of calories per day, and the benefits don’t stop there. Drinking two glasses of water before a meal may encourage the stomach to feel full more quickly, so you don’t eat as much. In addition, new research suggests drinking plenty of water may have a positive effect on your metabolism.

JURY’S OUT (UNDECIDED): FRUIT JUICE

Juice can have as many calories as soda, but it has far more to offer in the way of nutrients. This presents a dilemma – you want the vitamins and antioxidants without all the extra sugar. The safest strategy: Look for 100% fruit juice. Steer clear of juice drinks that have added sweeteners. Look for the percent of real juice, noted on the nutritional label. You can also cut calories by drinking water with a tiny bit of juice added.

HELPER: VEGETABLE JUICE

Vegetable juice is every bit as nutritious as fruit juice with about half the calories. A 12-ounce serving of tomato juice has 80 calories, compared to 160 calories for orange juice. Vegetable juice with pulp is also high in fiber and can help control hunger.

JURY’S OUT: SMOOTHIES

Blending a banana, strawberries, and blueberries into a frothy smoothie can give you a delicious arsenal of disease-fighting vitamins and minerals. The homemade variety is best when you’re counting calories, because you can control the ingredients – skim milk and fresh fruit are all you need. Restaurant smoothies may contain ice cream, honey, or other sweeteners that boost the calorie count sky-high.

JURY’S OUT: LOW-FAT MILK

It’s good for your body to consume calcium-rich foods, but calcium probably won’t help you lose weight, according to new research. Earlier studies suggested calcium may prompt the body to burn more fat, but there’s little evidence to support these claims. Depriving the body of calcium, on the other hand, has been shown to trigger an increase in the production of fat cells. To get the benefits of calcium without consuming extra fat, stick to skim milk, yogurt and cheese.

SPOILER: ENERGY DRINKS

Sports and energy drinks are calorie bombs like soda. They may have more added nutrients, but you can find the same vitamins and minerals in low-calorie foods. People who are serious about losing weight should stay hydrated with water rather than sports drinks.

HELPER: BLACK COFFEE

Need a shot of caffeine? Coffee is a better choice than soda or energy drinks. Black coffee is calorie-free and rich in anti-oxidants. Studies show consuming moderate amounts of coffee (about 3 to 4 cups a day) may improve mood and concentration, and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and several types of cancer.

SPOILER: FANCY COFFEE

Adding heavy cream, flavored syrups, and/or a snowcap of whipped cream can turn that innocent mug of black coffee into a minefield of fat and sugar. Specialty coffees can contain up to 570 calories per cup – possibly more than an entire meal. If you don’t like your coffee black, add a little skim milk and artificial sweetener to keep the calorie count low.

HELPER: GREEN TEA

This is another excellent choice when you’re looking for a little caffeine. Not only is it calorie-free, some research suggests green tea extract may stimulate weight loss through the action of phytochemicals. These are plant-based compounds that may temporarily cause the body to burn more calories and melt fat. The benefit seems to last only a few hours, so it may help to drink green tea at least twice a day.

SPOILER: WINE COOLERS

They may sound light and airy, but wine coolers are heavy on calories. A 12-ounce wine cooler can have 190 calories and 22 grams of carbohydrate. Regular wine is not much better, with 100 calories in a 5-ounce  glass. A low-calorie alternative is a wine spritzer: mix a dash of wine with some sparkling water.

SPOILER: COCKTAILS

A shot of hard liquor has fewer calories than wine or wine coolers, but once you mix in soda or cream, look out………..  An 8-ounce portion of some white rums made with light cream has 715 calories.  A less fattening option is to mix rum or vodka with diet soda.

HELPER: LIGHT BEER

O.K., beer is not really going to help you lose weight. But if you’re out with friends and want to share a pitcher, light beer is the way to go. A serving has 100 calories, compared to 150 calories for regular beer.

See you next week.

Dr. Victor Emanuel has been an educator of medical professionals in training, and the public, for over 20 years in Dominica. The contents of his articles are based on facts and research conducted, and not of his opinion.

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14 Comments

  1. Please
    September 1, 2010

    @Gene, Toronto: U r replying ur own self. It’s seems to me ur trying to imply that the doc’s article is lacking info. Just like Hannah and last dog I enjoyed the info and appreciate wat the mans doing, so y can’t u? Ur not even adding ur 2 cents ur putting a whole dollar in. Get a life!!!

  2. Gene, Toronto
    August 31, 2010

    @Gene, Toronto:

    Sorry for the error. I meant, it is “greatly” appreciated. There are still some sensible people who appreciate even simple common sense reading. This does not mean that they are simple but that they are intellectuals of higher understanding in their own rights.

    God bless!

  3. Gene, Toronto
    August 31, 2010

    @Watcher:

    Thank You! It is grately appreciated. You are encouraging. Keep it up and may God bless you too.

  4. Gene, Toronto
    August 31, 2010

    @Unbelievable.:

    If this is all you have to say “get a life”, you have nothing concrete to offer to anyone.
    I do have a life and a great one. Little do you know.
    Do you have one? Do something good for your country, wherever you may reside. There are some people as you who do not appreciate what is good for you and what is good to say. Your learning process is at a standstill. This is ignorance on your part. As the saying: “Where ignorance is bliss, it is folly to be wise.”
    As an afterthought, if you are a resident of Dominica (or not), it is people like you who will cause some of us to remain overseas. You do not appreciate sensible and educated people who utilize their God-given intelligence and basic common sense. You do not want progress for your country and to make you wise.
    Learn to appreciate the good which you see in others and what you hear about them and read what they have to state.
    I am not a gullible person. I do read Health Matters specifically when I see them through the Media. When I read the article, I knew that I had already seen it “from an original Website”. I was entitled to download it which I did for future reference. I also pass them on to those who are on my email list as they do to me when they receive such material, as each one reaches one for their interest and health reasons. We are not here for ourselves but to assist others.
    It is government regulations of this country of Canada and ithat of the originators of the articles that their articles should not be copied or distributed to anyone. It is illegal to do so and by no means for monetary gains, just as DON stipulates in its regulations.
    I did you a favour to inform you accordingly that there are copycats out there who utilize original information to receive monetary gains and pass it out “as if they are experts” so as to deceive those who read them. Keep this in mind.

  5. Please
    August 31, 2010

    @Gene, Toronto: Seriously, I just read the doc’s article why would I want to read your long… comment.

  6. Unbelievable.
    August 26, 2010

    @Gene, Toronto: Gene….Get a Life , a job, a hobby or something.

  7. Watcher
    August 26, 2010
  8. Gene, Toronto
    August 25, 2010

    @Ayeola/The Lime:
    Take time to do good. Do not rush into being on a diet and to lose weight. Exercise – walking is also necessary for weight loss.
    There are too many of those businesses which cause confusion as to which one of those diet products are necessary for us.
    Take for instance, eating all you can, dessert and all and still lose weight. I have considered that there is something “unnatural” in those diet plans, something which is placed in the menu which will cause weight loss and which may not be healthy for them.
    Just eat the necessary foods, fruits, vegetables and the right drinks as drinking water, all in moderation.
    One of my favorite drinks is Ginger Ale. I hardly ever drink Coke and canned drinks, the latter, if I can help it.
    In fact, having read on Best Health Website about what is good for us and what is not good for us, I am wary of general canned and bottled products. I am doing my utmost to get rid of any canned and bottled items that I have in my kitchen cupboards.
    Are you aware that you can make many products, such as Tomato Sauce/Ketchup/Salsa, Mayonnaise and other such ones? It does take time but are well-worth the effort. They do not have preservatives. At least, we know what we are eating and how they are prepared.
    Herbs which are grown in the soil are essential for our health.
    Root vegetables and root herbs are what which God has created for us and meant for us. If at all possible, we should utilize those for our health.
    I also like taking essential Supplements as Vitamin C, D, E, etc. but in moderation and not all at the same time.
    My interest in and concern for such matters are primarily due to my father’s advice and example since childhood. I remember those days when he would give us, his children, Cod Liver Oil and other vitamins even though we were well fed including the hateful Castor Oil for purging. I am certain that some of you, Dominicans, wherever you reside, have memories of those days. My friends and I reminisce about those days. We do have a good laugh about them. Our parents meant well, to keep us healthy.
    My father believed in natural cures as some other parents. I once told him that he should write a book about vitamins. He replied: “I live this up to the children.”
    I am not deceived by all these diet products which could prove to be expensive and keeping those who own those businesses to make them rich at our expense. I too could open a business to assist others how to live well and nutritiously.
    If God has given us all these natural root foods and vegetables why should we be concerned about diet products? Junk foods and non-nutritious ones in this era which also have infiltrated to Dominica of all have caused this problem of weight gain. In those days these were non-exsistent.
    Eat in moderation. Eat well, live well and sleep well. This is the key to health, well-being and a long life. After all is said and done, hopefully, we do not die in an accident and through the negligence of others.

  9. mouth of the south
    August 25, 2010

    plain n simple stop going to kfc,,, ever wonder why kfc always filled n subway empty,,, now don’t tell me bout price,,, ya’ll go to kfc every single day,,,,,,, do every thing the doctor say n check ur weight,,, is d same damn weight WHY? U ASK because ur diet aint changed,,, alot of us wanna lose weight but don’t wanna eat one piece of chicken instead of three lol,,,,, i doh wanna diss anybody but our beautiful young ladies in roseau starting to look unattractive with all that kfc,,, yo i got sisters too n they like kfc,,, so is not an attack on women but that junk we feeding ourself is destroying us,,,, i can agree if is twice a week or once a blue but every single day allu wanna eat kfc n expect to lose significant weight,,,,, none of what the doctor say is gonna work unless u change your attitude towards diet,,,,, seriously think of it switching to black coffee from designer coffee is gonna turn ur weight around,,, please!!!! that’s not all what u eat for the day,,,,,,

  10. DD
    August 25, 2010

    Thanks Doctor. Trying to cut back on a lot of things gradually to lose some weight and was wondering which drinks were good and not good for me. Very helpful article.

  11. August 25, 2010

    if you want to lose weight in a short period of time go on the master cleanse diet.. go to themastercleanse.org for all the deets!

  12. Gene, Toronto
    August 25, 2010

    I have read about this article on MSN.ca and also read it through TV and the newspapers. In this era, we are not without these useful advice, be it from medical doctors and nutritionists. If only we would practice these important matters of what we read and hear about, we would have a world of happy and healthy people and less tired and moody ones.
    I do believe everything should be done in moderation. Never over do it. Water is essential. The body needs water to pump the heart and for the functions of other parts of the body. Again, do not overdo it. It is stated that we should drink approximately 8 glasses of water per day. These glasses should be medium sized ones. In addition, the fruits we (should) eat contain water. Therefore, it may not be necessary to drink 8 glasses of water per day. It is stated that we should eat at least three fruits per day.
    Vegetables are essential. Also greens, as lettuce and cabbage and the family of these which are grown in Dominica. These are called cruciferous vegetables.
    I have also read the importance of eating tomatoes, green and red peppers and cucumbers. We must also not forget carrots which we could also use in salads.
    Steaming, if possible, is better than cooking.
    Drinks: Lime, lemon juice, grapefruits and oranges, the real/natural ones rather than bottled and canned ones.
    Peas: red beans, pigeon peas, black eye peas, chick peas are also my favorites among others.
    For health reasons, we should eat a little of the above daily.
    Breakfast: Also drink milk, hot cereals as oats; not processed ones.
    Avoid fatty foods.
    Less meat. More of fish, liver and chicken, the latter with the skin taken off prior to cooking/ baking/ BBQ’ing. Fish, beef liver and chicken make me homesick as I recall when I resided in Dominica and how delicious they were then. They were not imported.
    Dominica is blest with sunshine which also provides Vitamin D for the skin. Also water, fresh fruits and vegetables, right from the soil; not processed ones, canned or bottled ones and hopefully not vegetables and fruits sprayed with pesticides.
    Those who have ample land in their yards and/or back of their homes should cultivate the above, if possible, as cost-cutting means.
    Life is short. It should be enjoyed to the fullest and all the edible foods, fishes and meat which God has given to us. Moderation is the key to all things. Keep in mind, one of the sins is: “Gluttony”, eating too much and too frequently because we feel like it and not necessarily because we are hungry and our bodies are in need of food.
    We do not appreciate the resources which we have to keep us healthy and hopefully assist us in living a long life.
    Last but by no means least, always thank God, also giving Him due praise as He deserves for all the natural resources which He has given to us, including life, health and strength. No offense here, ungrateful creatures that we are, God loves our thanks and praises. In so doing, He will shower His blessings upon us, protect us and our land and increase it resources.
    Our Lord Jesus Christ said: “Apart from Me you can do nothing. By My Spirit, you can do all things.”
    God bless!

  13. last dog
    August 25, 2010

    I enjoy the information. I keep needing to find out what i should eat and drink. Thank you so much

  14. HANNAH
    August 25, 2010

    THANK YOU DOCTOR. PLEASE KEEP THE INFO COMING, I APPRECIATE WHAT YOU ARE DOING.
    THE GOOD BOOK SAYS, MY PEOPLE DIE FOR LACK OF KNOWLEDGE.

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