Diet Drinks

Although diet sodas are “calorie-free”, they do not replace water in terms of nutrition.  Diet sodas contain phosphorus, and a high phosphorus intake, if not balanced by a good intake of calcium, can promote loss of bone.  (Regular sodas have phosphorus, too, neither is a great choice). Since many adults do not get enough calcium in their diet, drinking beverages that contain phosphorus adds to the problem of good calcium balance, and this can be a problem for those prone to osteoporosis. Good calcium/phosphorus balance is just one good reason that children and young people, who are still growing, should avoid drinking large amounts of either diet or regular sodas.

In addition, diet sodas often contain caffeine, which is de-hydrating and adds to the challenge of replacing lost fluids.

Last, diet sodas contain artificial sweeteners, and although they are considered “safe” in moderate amounts, they are unnecessary chemical that adds to the other chemicals the body is exposed to on a daily basis. Moderation is the key when drinking diet drinks.

Soda Pop and Sweetened Beverages
Clearly, sweetened beverages lose out when it comes to non-nutritious calories. If a 12-ounce can of soda contains about 150 Calories, it’s all coming from sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup and other sweeteners. That’s about 40 grams of carbohydrate, or 8 teaspoons of sugar in each can of soda. While you probably wouldn’t think of sitting down to eat 8 teaspoons of sugar in a bowl, that is essentially what you are doing when you drink a can of soda.

Beyond traditional soda pop, there are soda “crossovers” - fruit juice-based beverages that have an equal amount of sugar in the form of various sweeteners. While some of these beverages contain supplements (herbal, vitamin, amino acids, etc. that make them appear more nutritious) they are essentially soft drinks that contain a lot of empty calories. Read the nutrition label for calorie content and you will see that these drinks contain mostly sugar. 

Read the nutrition labels of all beverages. In some cases, when you drink a beverage from a large bottle, you may be consuming two servings instead of one – so check for the number of servings in each bottle or can.

Coffee Drinks
Much has been said about coffee drinks as a source of fat and empty calories. Many of these coffee specialty drinks become more like desserts and should be treated as such. If you drink coffee and like to add to it, use skim milk or non-fat, non-dairy creamers, and avoid pre-sweetened coffee drinks. The syrups, whipped cream, chocolate, and caramel add up quickly, so making these drinks a daily ritual can make the difference between losing weight or not. There is also a tendency to skip breakfast and instead to opt for a special coffee drink. Clearly these dessert beverages are not a good substitute for a decent breakfast and can be compared to eating an ice cream sundae for breakfast!

Fruit Smoothies and Shakes
Yogurt shakes and fruit smoothies are really nice, refreshing drinks, and are a pretty good replacement for ice cream, but be aware that they can be very high in calories. Made from large quantities of fruit juices, whole fruit, added sugar, and yogurt, the biggest problem with these beverages is that they are simply too large, making them very high in carbohydrate and calories. Split these drinks between one or two friends, and try to keep the serving size to 8 ounces or less, and they can be a fun treat instead of a nutrition nightmare!

Summary
In the summertime, enjoy a variety of your favorite beverages, and include plenty of water. Know that drinks that contain a lot of sugar or caffeine are dehydrating and are not the best choice for replacing lost fluids. Sodas, because of their phosphorus (and caffeine) content can be a detriment to bone health, even the diet sodas, so use moderation when drinking  non-caloric beverages.

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