330ml cranberry juice – 170 calories
330ml orange juice – 150 calories
330ml coca cola – 139 calories
330ml diet coke – 2 calories
330ml coconut water – 58 calories
330ml tea with skimmed milk – 20 calories
330ml black coffee – 1 calorie
330ml water – ZERO calories ZERO sugar
Before I continue, it’s important to say that I’m not condoning anything and everything that isn’t pure water. Nor am I saying that the less calories a drink contains, the better it must be for you (N.B. Diet coke contains only 2 calories). I enjoy coffee (with milk!) from time to time and freshly-extracted juice. But I do make sure that, no matter what else I drink, I consume at least 2 litres of water a day. Not sparkling water. Not artificially flavoured water. Water.
This is a photo of the spring where I live in The Cotswolds. I am lucky to have such a great source of water pretty much on my doorstep!
Water is good for you, and it’s not just about quenching your thirst. Over half of the human body is made up of water (55 – 70% depending on body size) so it is essential that we drink enough water to keep the cells of the body hydrated in order for them to function properly. Moreover, when following a weight loss and new exercise regime, you need to keep your body hydrated.
This is why you need to keep hydrated, and water is the best thing for you:
Dehydration slows down the fat burning process: to burn calories, the body needs an adequate supply of water in order to carry out this function properly.
Burning calories creates toxins, and water is necessary to help flush these toxins from the body.
Dehydration can cause tiredness as it affects volume of the blood; when your blood volume is reduced, this causes a reduction in the supply of oxygen to muscles which is what makes you feel tired.
Proper hydration can help reduce muscle and joint soreness when exercising: water lubricates the joints and helps maintain muscle tone.
We consume far too many calories in the form of sugar-filled beverages: if we drink more water (zero calories, zero sugar!), then in theory we should be drinking less sugary beverages and alcohol, which are not conducive to weight loss.
We often mistake thirst for hunger, and consume extra calories when really all we needed was a glass of water to make us feel full.
Drinking water before a meal can help reduce our appetite, and we might therefore consume less food calories.
Drinking cold water can even increase calorie burn slightly: our metabolism speeds up as it works to heat up the body temperature.
Keeping the body hydrated reduces bloating. By upping your water intake and reducing refined salt you can decrease water retention in the body, so by drinking more water you actually reduce the degree to which your body retains it.
So just to recap. Drinks contain calories too, and the fewer calories you consume from beverages (this includes alcohol guys!), the better. We pay so much attention to avoiding eating fast-foods, but what about “fast-drinks”? Refined sugars, even sugars in “healthy” fruit juices are not always conducive to weight loss because of the carbohydrates they contain and the quantities we consume. However healthy the packaging and branding of a product appears, always check the back of the label to find out what it really contains, particularly with regards to fruit juices.
Not to mention the low-calorie sweetener aspartame that is found in the low-calorie diet drinks: read Confessions of a Diet Coke addict if you have time. In a nutshell, aspartame is not good for you and it inhibits fat loss. The next time you want to grab a coke or energy drink off the shelf, look at the nutrition content. How much sugar does it contain? Ask yourself how healthy these neon blues and caramel browns seem for your body, and after reading the nutrition label whether you would happily consume this beverage if you ate the equivalent straight from a bag of sugar?
Let’s recap again – drink more water! It’s simple. Excluding whatever else you drink, you should be aiming to drink 2 litres of water a day (even more if you are active). Below are some ideas to help up your water intake:
Take a 2l bottle of water with you to work and drink this throughout the day. This way you’ll know how much you’re drinking.
Flavour your natural water with slices of cucumber, orange, lemon or fresh mint.
Hot water with fresh lemon in the mornings is beneficial for breaking the overnight fast and revving up your metabolism before breakfast. Add fresh ginger and honey too if you like for extra flavour.
Still want that sugar fix? Make your own.
Basil Lemonade contains xylitol, a sugar extracted from the birch tree. It’s still a treat in my opinion but at least you know exactly what you're putting into your body when making it for yourself. Or you could make something much better for your body - buy yourself a juicer and check out Jason Vale’s Sherbet Lemonade
BASIL LEMONADE INGREDIENTS
4 cups fresh basil leaves, packed, plus 6 basil sprigs for garnish
¼ cup xylitol
1 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice (about 6 lemons)
Bring basil leaves, sugar, and 2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar and bruise basil leaves.
Simmer for 5 minutes without stirring.
Strain, pressing on basil to remove liquid, and cool.
Pour 2 cups of basil syrup into a large jug. Stir in lemon juice and 4 cups water.
Transfer to refrigerator, and chill well.
Serve over ice, garnished with basil sprigs.
The basil syrup will keep for up to a month in the fridge. You could also try this recipe replacing basil with mint.
If you’re interested in learning more about aspartame, I found these links pretty interesting:
6 reasons to give up diet soda
If you would like help with your health and fitness goals or struggle with balancing the unavoidables and enjoyables of life, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org