This is the first of a 5-part series that is designed to help you get your nutrition plan under control so that you can begin to see results (or see better results) from the hard work that you’ve been putting in at the gym or in your living room! Today, we’ll focus on sweetened beverages.
I call this the progressive nutrition plan because it’s designed to be taken in steps. Making a lot of changes all at once is difficult for people, and I don’t want to set you up for failure. I want you to succeed in making the changes you want so badly! I suggest spending 2-3 weeks on each step before implementing the next one. This gives your body, and your mind, time to adjust to these small changes.
Today I am going to cover only 1 topic: sweetened beverages.
Depending on your activity level, an average sized woman should be consuming approximately 1800-2000 calories per day, while an average sized man should be consuming approximately 2200-2400 calories per day.
If you eat more calories than this, and more than your activity levels account for, YOU WILL GAIN WEIGHT.
The trick to losing weight, then, is to:
- Eat fewer calories per day so that you lose weight (the restrictive diet). However, I’m not a fan of restrictive diets. They are not sustainable for a long duration, and you will likely fall off this wagon and give up on it. Some of you might be stuck in this endless cycle of crash dieting.
- Increase your activity levels to burn calories and lose weight. I prefer that you don’t starve yourself and stay in the 1800-2000 and 2200-2400 calorie ranges. This is the healthy way and the only true way to create healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime.
If you’re not sure how many calories you currently consume per day, then I highly suggest you attempt to figure it out. Read my series on How to Keep A Food Journal. If you’ve never kept an accurate food journal, you have no real clue about just how much you are consuming. Without knowing this information, you’re just stumbling through the dark.
Drinking sweetened beverages is sometimes the simplest thing preventing people from reaching their nutrition goals. If you are serious about losing weight, then you really need to consider eliminating soda from your daily intake. Soda has absolutely zero nutritional value!
Hopefully, providing you with some information about sweetened beverages will encourage you to make better decisions.
The truth is that sugar is addictive, and it’s added to everything! Unless you’re eating a complete whole foods diet, it’s virtually impossible to avoid. Let’s take a look at what happens in your body when you drink soda:
- Twenty minutes after drinking soda, your blood sugar spikes, causing an insulin burst. Your liver responds by turning any sugar into fat.
- Forty minutes later, caffeine absorption is complete. Your blood pressure rises and your liver dumps more sugar into your bloodstream.
- Forty five minutes later, your body ups dopamine production, stimulating the pleasure centers of your brain. This is physically the same way that heroin works by the way!
If you tell yourself that drinking artificially sweetened, low calorie soda, is a better alternative, then I’ve got news for you. You’re just making excuses. Your insulin levels get spiked all the same with artificial sweeteners, and your metabolism still will not function properly. Low calorie soda is not a healthy alternative to regular soda.
Fruit juice is just as bad for you as soda. I know that you’ve been taught your whole life that fruit juice is good for you, but I’m asking you to discard what you’ve learned because it’s incorrect. Fruit juice is full of sugar, and we’ve already discussed above just how sugar wreaks havoc on your liver and your metabolism. Even if the ingredients don’t say “sugar,” the words sucrose, glucose, and fructose mean the very same thing.
What about vitamin C and other vitamins and minerals found in fruit juice?
These are opportunities for more excuses. If you are drinking juice because you need vitamin C, then I highly encourage you to switch to eating an actual piece of fruit. By eating the actual fruit, you are filling your stomach with something solid. This will reduce the likelihood that you will continue to be hungry and reduce the opportunity for poor choices. Your body will thank you.
What Can You Drink?
Drink water! The Mayo Clinic has an excellent article that provides a lot of information about drinking water. I know that you probably think that water is boring, especially if you’re kicking a sugar addiction. Give it a try. By staying with step 1 of the progressive nutrition plan for several weeks before proceeding to the next step, you’ll be able to break that sugar addiction. You might just discover that you love and enjoy your water!
You can also drink coffee and tea in moderate amounts. Please pass on the sweeteners and avoid drinking caffeinated beverages late in the day. Lack of sleep can mess up your metabolism too!
Dairy or dairy substitutes are fine in moderate amounts too. I’m a fan of milk and almond milk. If you’re tracking your calories, make sure that these fit into your totals.
Alcohol? If you’re trying to lose weight, drinking alcohol is not going to help. It’s going to hurt your progress. Alcohol is a cheat, or a splurge, and you are allowed a couple of these occasionally – as long as they don’t derail you from reaching your goals. But choose your splurges wisely. If you are at a weight that you are happy with, then I think it’s totally fine to have a glass of wine with dinner or a couple of drinks on the weekend. I do.
Most importantly, remember that if you are not reaching your goals and you are not where you want to be in your fitness journey, it’s your decisions that are preventing you from reaching them.
I know that this article has a lot of words to simply say, don’t drink sweetened beverages, but in summary, that’s all I have left to say…
Don’t drink sweetened beverages.