Nutrition Corner – Beverage Choices and “Snack attacks”

September 18, 2018

What beverages are good, and which ones should I avoid?

People spend so much time worrying about their food intake, they often tend to forget that what we drink can make or break our healthy plan. Sodas, sweet coffee drinks and alcohol all have calories, sugar and fat.

• A Starbucks 16 ounce café mocha with whipped cream has 360 calories, 19 grams of fat and 32 grams of sugar. The 16 ounce non-fat white chocolate mocha without whipped cream has 310 calories, 6 grams of fat and a whopping 52 grams of sugar! A regular 16 ounce coffee has less than 5 calories, no sugar, no fat. I add a splash of unsweetened soymilk which adds about 15 calories, and less than a gram of fat.

Tip: Look out for sugar grams on food labels. You may be surprised to find out how much sugar is lurking in packaged foods. Remember this—Four grams of sugar is equal to one teaspoon of table sugar.

• Depending on the brand, one 12 once can of soda has between 40-50 grams of sugar, that’s the equivalent of 10-12 teaspoons of white table sugar. Research suggests that sugary drinks are one of the leading causes of obesity in the US.

• With alcoholic beverages, moderation is considered a maximum of one drink per day—12 ounces of regular beer (150 calories), 5 ounces of wine (100 calories) or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits (100 calories)– for women and two drinks a day for men.

The bottom line is that water is what’s best for you. If you need morning caffeine, choose regular black coffee, with low fat or skim milk or unsweetened soy milk.

How should I cope with “snack attacks”?

Don’t fight your snack attacks—just make the right choices. Nancy Clark, a nutritionist and author of the Sports Nutrition Guidebook, points out that “not snacking is bad practice, especially for active people.” Snacking prevents cravings, keeps you from getting too hungry. Here are Nancy’s key points to keep in mind about snacking:

• A snack is a snack, not a meal. Keep snacks under 300 calories.
• Choose wisely: carrots over carrot cake and apples over apple pie.
• If you’re snacking before a workout, make sure you include a carbohydrate, which you’ll find in unsweetened yogurt, or a piece of fruit.
• Stay hydrated. Sometimes when you feel hungry, you’re really thirsty.

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