When counting calories, don’t forget those in beverages. You might not realize how many you’re drinking.
For instance, if you have a fancy coffee to start your day, a large soda with lunch and sweet tea with your afternoon snack, you could tally up hundreds of calories before you factor in your first bite of solid food.
Here are seven ideas for cutting back on these calories to speed weight loss and give you more leeway for satisfying meals:
1. Perfectly plain
Make water, plain tea or black coffee your default drink. Even diet sodas aren’t good for your health, so avoid them. Instead, add a splash of fruit juice to a glass of sparkling water and top it off with a lemon, lime, cucumber or watermelon slice.
2. Sensible sips
For every other beverage, consider its nutritional value before you take a sip. For instance, an 80-calorie glass of nonfat milk delivers protein, calcium and vitamin D, while soda with 80 calories has no nutrients at all.
3. Learn labels
Read every label carefully. It might list calories in an 8-ounce serving, but if the bottle contains 20 ounces and you drink it all, you’ve consumed two and a half servings.
4. Shun sweeteners
Beware of any beverage that gets most of its calories from sweeteners, including (but not limited to) corn syrup or high-fructose corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, honey, sucrose, sugar and syrup.
5. Go nonfat
For beverages that you really enjoy, find ways to trim the calories. Choose coffee drinks made with nonfat—not whole—milk and skip the flavored syrups and whipped cream.
If you love smoothies, order the smallest size and choose one made with nonfat yogurt or milk and real fruit—with no added sugar.
7. Snack replacement
Finally, use no-calorie beverages, like water, tea and even simple broth instead of a snack, as effective hunger-busters between meals.