What the science tells us is that, in order to lose weight, we need to create a caloric deficit. What this means is we need to be consuming less calories than we are using, on a daily basis. Sounds simple – doesn’t it?
However, weight loss, particularly sustained weight loss (i.e. keeping the weight off) is incredibly difficult to do… though also one of the most rewarding. So, instead of just giving out the reasonably accurate, though entirely useless, piece of advice to: “Eat less, move more”, what we want to do is provide you with some tips and strategies to positively affect the energy balance: to help your calorie expenditure exceed your calorie intake.
Usually, we don’t talk about what we consume in a day, but rather what we EAT in a day. One reason your weight loss may not be consistent or even existent is because of the calories we don’t always think about – those that we DRINK on a daily basis. It is very easy to consume a lot of ‘empty’ calories through drinks every single day. Why do I refer to these as empty calories? Because, the chances are, they wont satisfy you, and the nutrition they provide to you is likely to be very limited. Take the following day of drinks for example:
1. Small glass of fresh orange juice (250ml): 95 Kcal
2. Cappucino with whole milk (~150ml): 95 Kcal
3. One bottle of coke (500ml): 210 Kcal
4. One cup of tea, with whole milk (50ml) and sugar (1tsp): 46 Kcal
5. One medium glass of red wine (175ml): 148 Kcal
N.B: Water was excluded as it carries no caloric value
Total Calorie Intake: 594 Kcal
As you can see, it doesn’t take a lot to add a fair amount of calories to your day. So, the most important piece of advice is to be aware of what you are drinking. Once you see how much you are potentially drinking in a day, it is much easier to reduce and moderate the amounts. Now, for some practical tips on how to reduce the amount of calories you drink:
1. Swap ‘regular’ drinks for their diet alternatives:
Now, I’m sure you’ve heard that artificial sweeteners are the devil, so you’re better off drinking regular coke than diet coke or coke zero, but the truth is that they use such small amounts of these sweeteners that they pose no threat to your health whatsoever. In fact, you would have to consume something like 200 cans of diet coke in a day for the amount of aspartame to be dangerous. Diet sodas are not good for your teeth, but certainly pose a better alternative when the sweet cravings kick in.*
2. Try skimmed or semi-skimmed milk instead of whole milk:
Now, by no means am I saying whole milk is unhealthy – far from it in fact. This is just another way you can cut some calories out of your day when trying to lose weight. If you’re someone who drinks, or uses a lot of milk on a daily basis, swapping in skimmed milk is an easy way to save some calories and grams of fat.
3. Fruit infused water instead of fruit juice:
Fruit juices are delicious, I’ll give them that. However, they contain all of the sugar and none of the fibre you get from eating an actual whole orange. My general advice when it comes to fruit juices is (a) limit the amounts and (b) limit the frequency. I wouldn’t advise drinking fruit juice (even it’s freshly squeezed) on a daily basis. Instead, try taking a couple of wedges of your favourite fruit, put them in a pitcher or bottle of water, and leave it in the fridge. What you’ll find is you end up with some of the taste of your fruit, but hardly any of the caloric value.
4. Don’t add sugar to your tea / coffee:
… or at least reduce the amount. 2-3 teaspoons of sugar, 1-2 times per day, over the course of a year? You’re looking at anything from 4-12kg of sugar. That’s a lot of added sugar! Either reduce / remove the sugar from your hot drinks (because if you’re like me, coffee tastes good enough already), or substitute in Stevia: it has a similar sweet taste to sugar, it’s natural, and has 0 caloric value… but I will warn you it is more expensive!
5. Moderate your alcohol intake:
The key word here is moderate! I am not asking or expecting anyone to stop drinking alcohol entirely because (a) restricting anything only leads to bad relationships with said thing and (b) alcohol can be great! Personally, I’m partial to a good gin and tonic, or glass of bubbly, or a cocktail or even a nice…
You see, we all love a drink now and then! But do I drink every day? No, usually only at weekends (if even), and do I drink excessively? Absolutely not. Enjoying a drink (or two) occasionally is fine. What I do advise against is drinking every day. It’s not necessary, it’s not good for your liver, and personally, it would take some of the enjoyment out of it!
So, in summary, look at all the calories you are consuming in a day – FOOD and DRINK. Find ways to reduce your intake if you want to lose weight, but be sensible: a smaller reduction which you can sustain is going to be far more beneficial than a drastic restriction!
If you want accurate, applicable nutrition advice, which is going to help you lose weight and keep it off, get in touch out at:
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