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Liquid Calories - What you need to know

So you've been on lockdown and gyms are still closed because of the Covid-19 Pandemic, and you're concerned you're putting on weight....
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So you've been on lockdown and gyms are still closed because of the Covid-19 Pandemic, and you're concerned you're putting on weight. You've been working out regularly, training along to your trainer or favorite influencer's home workouts to keep your weight in check. On top of this, you've tried sticking to your healthy diet and have even cut out those additional snacks you used to have. All of this, yet you notice no improvement or your progress is far slower than you were expecting, and you are just not feeling like the results are worth the effort.

Sound familiar? Read on

That's because you have not paid close attention to what is fundamental to your weight loss and maintaining a healthy physique, Liquid Calories! What are they, and why are they so important to understand?

But first, let's quickly understand calorie intake.

The amount of energy in a food item or drink is measured in calories. When we consume more calories than we use, our bodies store the excess as body fat. If this regularly, then you will gradually put on weight. Alternatively, when we burn more calories than we consume, we will begin to lose weight. It is important to note that your body needs calories; without them, you would not survive, so finding the balance is crucial.  Now back to liquid calories.

What are Liquid Calories?

Liquid Calories are self-explanatory; they are calories found in liquids such as soft drinks, fruit juices, alcohol, soups, and so on. The consumption of these calories on their own is not solely where the issue lies. The problem is that your body does not register liquid calories and does not suppress hunger as it does with solid foods. You can drink far more than you need before you begin to feel full, and you're more often than not consuming these with your regular diet and not as a substitute. 

Where are they found? 

It is well known that fizzy drinks and alcohol are high in calories and will lead to weight gain if consumed regularly. People often tend to forget that beverages such as fruit juices, smoothies, sports drinks, and even flavored waters are also high in calories and sugar and will have the same effect if you have too much.

Examples of high-calorie drinks

  • Soft drinks, like soda (250 ml) = 105 calories, nine cubes of sugar
  • Ice tea (250 ml) = 70 calories, six cubes of sugar
  • Fruit smoothie (250 ml) = 135 calories, ten cubes of sugar
  • Orange juice (250 ml) = 115 calories, eight cubes of sugar
  • White wine, sweet (250 ml) = 250 calories, five cubes of sugar
  • Red wine (250 ml) = 210 calories, ½ cube of sugar
  • Beer (250 ml) = 100 calories, 0 cubes of sugar

Proof of the liquid calorie effect 

In a study from Harvard University and Children's Hospital in Boston, researchers found that women who increased their intake of sugar-sweetened drinks, such as sodas or fruit juices, from one per week to more than once per day, added 358 calories daily and gained significant weight. Women who reduced their intake cut 319 calories per day and gained less weight.

Another famous study compared the impact of solid calorie intake (jelly beans) versus a similar liquid calorie intake (soda). They had people add these extra calories to their regular daily diets to see if their bodies would compensate. The study found that those that consumed the jelly beans ate less during the day, and those that drank the soda did not change their daily intake and therefore gained more weight over the same period. Their bodies did not recognize the extra calorie intake in liquid form. 

Although one can argue the ingredients were not identical, Another study took two identical meals, one in solid form and one in smoothie form, and the subjects felt significantly less full after consuming the smoothie. 

What should you do next? 

Of course, it would be insensible to cut out your intake of regular drinks completely. Still, you should look to a gradual reduction, especially if some of these drinks are caffeinated.  

Some suggest keeping a diary for a while to keep track of your calorie intake. This would give you a good picture of where the problems lie. It would be best if you looked at making a gradual change by swapping a drink or two with water. 

Water has zero calories and is the perfect substitute, but if you are looking for something with flavor, then "infused water" could be the answer. 

If you are serious about losing weight and building a healthy physique, paying careful attention to what you consume daily is equally, if not more important, than the workouts you choose to do. In fact, during this unprecedented time we are in, where a jog or walk is possibly all you can do, your diet (liquid and solid) is where you can make the most significant positive change. 

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