Liquid Calories Could Be Stalling Your Progress
By: Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN
If you are trying to lose weight but find yourself struggling to see the number on the scale change, you might want to look at the liquid calories you are taking in per day. Unfortunately, something not many people factor into their overall nutrition plan is drinks and beverages. While some are great with tracking their macros and the food they consume, they neglect to consider the liquid calories that could destroy their progress.
In this article, I want to bring to light a few key beverages that could be crushing your weight loss. By eliminating these liquid calories from your nutrition, or at least drastically reducing them, you should start to see your weight loss progress begin to kickstart once again. Here are some beverages you want to stay away from.
1. Sports Drinks
I’m not going to name any brands here, you can fill in the blanks as there are some very well-known brands out there that sell millions of sports drinks each and every year. However, what people fail to realize is that while their favorite athletes are all drinking these beverages, their liquid calories are being utilized by the body due to the calories burned and sweat they shed. Those athletes use those liquid calories while you, on the other hand, have a greater chance of storing them if you aren’t active.
Sports drinks are loaded with sugar. Essentially, they are sugar-water beverages with some electrolytes. If you aren’t a competitive athlete, there’s really no reason for you to consume these regularly. They do you more harm than good. Stay away from sports drinks unless you are engaging in a high-intensity activity where you would need to replenish electrolytes and rehydrate.
2. Regular Soda
When it comes to liquid calories, this could be the worst out of all the drinks on the list. In fact, it was found that in 2022, Americans were consuming around 154 liters of soda per year. That’s roughly 40 gallons of soda per person. If you consume sugary sodas that are about 180 calories per can (12 ounces), you’re looking at around 427 cans of soda each year. If you do the math, that equates to a total of 76,860 calories.
Just as a refresher, 3,500 calories equal one pound. Again, doing the math, that is 22 pounds that you could have gained by simply consuming soda per year. Think about how much weight you could have kept off if you switched to a zero-calorie beverage instead of consuming all those liquid calories and putting the sugary soda down.
Taking things a step further, think about how many times you may eat out at a restaurant and order a soda with your meal. How many refills do you get? Two? Five? All those liquid calories add up quickly if you aren’t paying attention.
3. Fruit Juice
Many of us were brought up having our parents pouring us glass after glass of orange juice, apple juice, and just about any “juice” they could find. Little did they know or even understand back then was that this “juice” wasn’t truly juice and was, in fact, bad for our health. The sugar content in fruit juice is through the roof. Now, if it were 100% fruit juice, it wouldn’t be as bad (I still wouldn’t include it in your nutrition), but at least on top of the natural sugars, it wasn’t loaded with added sugar as well.
Fruit juice is liquid calories you don’t need. Not only will the sugars leave you feeling hungry after drinking a glass, but a normal-sized glass of fruit juice could yield you hundreds of calories on top of insane amounts of unwanted and unnecessary sugar. Skip fruit juice altogether.
4. Fancy Tea and Coffee
Coffee is the number one beverage consumed each morning by Americans. That being said, the liquid calories from one morning’s worth of Americans drinking coffee might just be enough calories to nourish countries whose population is starving. So many drive to their favorite coffee shop and order their double expresso, three-pump vanilla burst, with a healthy dose of chocolate sauce, and an extra dash of unicorn dust. That’s really not a drink, but hopefully, you get the point.
Each morning some individuals are taking in close to or even over 1,000 calories just from their morning cup of Joe. Let’s not forget the teas, either! They are loaded with added sugar and even some flavoring, depending on the kind you get. I’m sorry to say, but even though we love our coffee and tea, those liquid calories still add up. If you need your morning cup of tea or coffee to get moving, opt for them to be unsweetened or black, and that will allow you to sweeten it with something like Stevia or Splenda if you wish. All that cream added to coffee doesn’t help, either. Be aware of what goes into your beverage, or you may never reach your health and fitness goals.
Here’s a better idea to sweeten your coffee. Why not get some protein first thing in the morning by dumping some MuscleSport Lean Whey into your coffee as a high-protein sweetener? Forget all those bad liquid calories that are full of unhealthy sugar and fat. Take your favorite flavor of Lean Whey, sprinkle some into your coffee, and mix it up with a spoon. You’ll get a healthy sweetener along with some protein to support muscle growth and recovery. It’s a win-win!
Honestly, do we even need to go into detail about this? Steve gets off work and goes home to open a beer seven seconds after walking through the door – only to kill a six-pack before heading to bed. Karen drowns her dreadful day with glass after glass of a Merlot. Does anyone care about the hundreds and hundreds of liquid calories they are taking in?
Just because alcoholic beverages can ease the blow of a bad day (or many), that doesn’t mean you can discount those liquid calories being consumed. Everything needs to be accounted for. Not only that but when you consume alcohol, what else are you generally doing? Probably eating something, right? This leads you down the rabbit hole, and before you know it, you’re in a caloric surplus and gaining weight weekly. Tighten up your nutrition and limit or eliminate alcohol from your diet.