The body needs to be hydrated. In the past, we were all told to drink 8 8-ounce glasses of water every day. However, that one-size-fits-all suggestion is no longer so strenuously encouraged especially because so many of the foods that we eat are high in water anyway (think watermelon and other fruits and vegetables). We know that we need to have the right drinks before, during, and after a workout to be healthy, but there are a number of reasons to make sure that the word “diet drink” is not encouraging us to drink the wrong things.
A number of people drink sodas and overly sugared fruit juices. There have been 6000 additional deaths in the past ten years that can be directly linked to an increase in sodas and fruit drinks (Source: The American Heart Association). There are actually a number of really good beverages that make a good diet drink, and that does not mean that you have to gulp down the energy drinks, either. In fact, it doesn’t mean that you should gulp them down at all. Look at the label on the typical energy drink: There are 16 teaspoons of sugar in addition to more caffeine than might be recommended for a single consumption.
There are actually a lot of good beverages that technically could qualify as a “diet drink” because they can play such a good role in a healthy diet.
Before You Add a Diet Drink to Your Diet
When you start a new diet plan, you tend to go into it with a shiny happy face, looking forward to slipping on a pair of jeans that you have not worn in months (or ever). You map out every meal that you are going to eat, from the time you will eat it to the portion size of every food in that diet. What most people forget are the liquid calories, the beverages that they will consume along with those meals. Sure, every diet allows for unlimited water, coffee, or tea as long as they don’t have sugar or milk added to them, but most people drink other beverages as well. You go out with your pals to celebrate a birthday or a promotion and you have a few mixed drinks or, trying to play it safe, you have a beer instead. And then you forget those calories, and they do add up. A twelve-ounce beer has 146 calories but zero grams of fat. An 8-ounce pina colada or other mixed drink could have as many as 466 calories and nearly five grams of fat per serving! Unless the beverage that you are choosing has five calories or less, it has to be counted into your diet plan. If you are not, then you will never figure out where your added weight is coming from.
Plain Old Water as a Diet Drink
If you drink a big glass of water before you have a meal, you will eat fewer calories during that meal because you just don’t have the room in your stomach for more. If you drink ice cold water, your body has to kick on the metabolism furnace to warm that water back up before it can be used, so you burn more calories. In addition, many people are mistaking thirst signals for hunger signals and eating when they could have been just as happy with a drink of water. Water also helps to plump the skin and keeps everything feeling soft and supple.
Milk Is a Diet Drink
When an athlete or body builder finishes a workout, they instantly grab a power drink to start replenishing the calories they have just spent. They want to make sure that they are restoring the protein that they have expended as well. While some of them have whey protein shakes or similar Sonus Complete supplements, many of them are using chocolate milk for the combination of carbohydrates (fast energy) and protein (supports muscle building). In addition, milk is high in calcium and other nutrients. There are even more benefits to milk as well. According to Anne Katherine, author of the book, Lick it! Fix her Appetite Switch!, milk can be a great way to stave off emotional eating triggers. Her suggestion is to drink a 20-ounce glass of fat free milk in the morning, which would allow for a 50 calorie reduction in calories consumed at lunchtime (Source: Amy Capetta. Natural Diet Pills in Your Supermarket. Woman’s World Magazine, September 6, 2010).
Tea Is a Diet Drink
Everyone knows that green tea is high in antioxidants and EGCG, but there are other teas that have benefits as well. EGCG is the abbreviation for epigallocatechin-3-gallate which is the antioxidant powerhouse in green tea that increases the amount of oxygen your body uses, which in turn can allow your body to have increased endurance. The fresher the green tea, the bigger the boost of EGCG you get (Source: Sports and Exercise). Oolong tea has been found to be beneficial to weight loss efforts. Researchers at the US Agricultural Research Service’s Diet and Human Performance Laboratory found that one cup of oolong tea each day led to an increase of 67 calories being burned without effort or dietary changes. It also revved the metabolism by as much as 12%. Like green tea, oolong has a number of polyphenols that help the body to absorb nutrients from the food you are eating, as well as to help block the accumulation of body fat.