Photo courtesy of Robert S. Donovan (flickr)
With the onset of summer, we often look for ways to feel refreshed ...a trip to the beach, a dip in the pool, or sometimes a nice, cool drink. While some of those beverages can help us beat the summer heat, others can bust the calorie budget. When it comes to those summer libations, you may want to ask yourself this question first: "Do I want to drink my calories or do I want to eat them?" Why should you ask this? Some studies suggest that calories in beverage form may be better at satisfying our thirst not our hunger. For instance, Barbara Rolls, author of The Volumetrics Eating Plan, conducted a study comparing subjects' satiety levels and energy consumption at meals following consumption of a whole apple, applesauce, or apple juice. Which one do you think enhanced satiety and curbed energy intake the most? The whole apple!
Check out these 10 higher calorie summer refreshments and their lower calorie alternatives.
Iced espresso drinks: One Grande Iced Caffe Mocha from Starbucks will set you back 320 calories, 17 grams of fat (mostly saturated), and 28 grams or 7 teaspoons of sugar. Just play 36 minutes of beach volleyball and you've got the calories covered. The Alternative? Go for it but request nonfat milk and no whipped cream. You'll save yourself 150 calories and 14.5 grams of fat, and you'll still get 9 grams of protein and 20% of the Daily Value for calcium.
Lemonade: One cup of lemonade will rack up about 130 calories and 33 grams of sugar, the equivalent of almost 15 Hershey's Kisses. The Alternative? Twist some citrus, like lemon or orange, into a tall glass of ice cold water. You could also consider adding fresh berries or apple, pear slices, or cucumber slices to your water. Eat the fresh goodies afterwards, and get a nutritional boost!
Margarita: A 10 ounce mango margarita will deliver about 740 calories and 56 grams (14 teaspoons) of sugar. Alcoholic beverages offer a triple whammy. Not only are they high in liquid calories, but they can also lead to higher calorie consumption when consumed before or with meals. Alcohol also has a diuretic effect on the body, which can cause greater water loss through urination. This loss of water (as well as the extra salt on the rim of the glass) triggers thirst, which could lead one to drink even more alcohol. The Alternative? A high quality tequila on the rocks with a splash of lime juice contains about 136 calories and virtually no sugar saving you a whopping 640 calories! Pair this with a glass of water to sip on, too!
Sweet tea: Sweetened teas can really boost the daily calorie count. A large sweet tea from McDonald's serves up 230 calories and 59 grams of sugar or the equivalent of about 75 jelly beans! The Alternative? Go plain jane here. A 32 oz unsweetened iced tea contains less than 10 calories and no sugar. If you want some flavor, add a squeeze of lemon juice or a sprig of mint to your iced tea.
Milkshake: Would it surprise you to find out that milkshakes can run upwards of 500 calories depending on what goes in it? The Chocolate Turtle shake from Ruby's Diner contains 1060 calories, 33 grams of fat, and 157 grams of sugar. Yes, you read that right! That's more calories than a double grilled cheese bacon burger from Carl's Jr. and the sugar equivalent of 34 Oreo cookies! The Alternative? Go for a nice tall glass of low-fat milk and make your own more nutritious smoothie at home.
Flavored and enhanced water: Maybe it should be called Vitamin and Sugar Water since it delivers around 125 calories and 33 grams of sugar per bottle. That's equivalent to 8 1/4 packets of sugar! The Alternative? Get more of your vitamins consuming a well-balanced diet and drink plain water instead. If you need some pizazz try sparkling water with a splash of lemon or cranberry juice.
Beer: Not all beers are created equal, but you already knew that, if you are a beer enthusiast. Most beers average around 12 calories per ounce, but some run even higher. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale contains 175 calories per 12 oz and the Sierra Nevada Bigfoot tips the scale at 330 calories per 12 oz. The Alternative? Light beers serve up an average of 10 calories per ounce, but for more taste on fewer calories, you could opt for a Guinness Draught at 126 calories per 12 oz. And remember the water!
Energy drinks: You're going to need these to keep up with your busier summer schedule, right? They'll give you energy alright. In fact, Rockstar Energy Drink will crank out a good 280 calories worth of energy and 62 grams of sugar. That's okay, you'll just need to walk up stairs for over 30 minutes to burn that off. Or think of it like this, that's the sugar equivalent to about 5 McDonald's baked apple pies. The Alternative? Look for other ways to optimize your energy levels, and if you need a mental boost, go for a cup of joe or tea instead. Need the chill, then opt for the plain iced coffee, iced caffe americano, or unsweetened iced tea.
Pina Colada: You might like pina coladas and getting caught in the rain, but you also might want to consider jumping rope for at least an hour to burn off the 644 calories that come with that drink. That's more calories than the KFC's Double Down sandwich. You know, the one with bacon, cheese, and sauce squished between two fried chicken filets. The Alternative? Try a virgin banana pina colada which offers 2 servings of fruit and only 130 calories per serving.
Root beer float: It'll make you feel like you're back in the 1950's, but it'll also take you up in calories. Sonic's regular-sized root beer float weighs in at 339 calories, 14 grams of fat (mostly saturated), and 49 grams of sugar. You'd need to do jumping jacks for 38 minutes to burn that many calories. Ouch! The Alternative? You could opt for just the root beer or just the ice cream or if you must, make your own using diet root beer and light ice cream.
What are your more nutritious summer drink alternatives?
*Calories burned doing various activities are based on 150 pound person.