Ok, you might have been hoping I’d forget about this one, but it’s time to discuss  drinking your calories versus eating them.

This comes in the form of beverages like fruit juice, soda, sports drinks, smoothies, milkshakes, crystal light type water “enhancers,” your morning coffee fix and even alcohol. Don’t worry! I’m leaving alcohol for a completely separate blog.

A large group of people don’t consider this as being something to really consider, but drinking your calories could be what is completely derailing your progress, keeping you from seeing the results you seek and making you feel horrible.

If you were to think about it at its most broad, how would you answer the question “would you rather drink or eat your calories for the day?” It should be a no brainer, right!? Of course you would rather eat them! You get a more lasting sense of fulfillment from a solid versus a liquid… for the most part. So now we get to dive into the reasons WHY that is.

I’m not going to geek out on the science of all this too much, but there are several things that need to be explained so that all of this makes sense. First and foremost, everyone needs to understand that sugar (of the correct type, distribution, and amount) can be included in a healthy diet.

Every carbohydrate you ingest:

  • Vegetables
  • Berries and other fruits
  • Grains like pasta, granola, rice, corn
  • Beans and legumes
  • Honey, agave, molasses
  • Even sugar itself and all sugar substitutes

are all broken down, through the process of digestion, into a simple sugar or monosaccharide. It’s this broken down form of sugar that provides us with the energy we need to perform daily functions and hit our workout each day, BUT it is also what will turn into fat if we consume too much of it each day.

Eating those sugars (in the appropriate amounts) will ALWAYS be better than drinking them. Let’s consider whole, fresh fruits versus fruit juice as the best example. Fruit juice has long been promoted as a great, healthy drink option, but is it really?!?!

A fresh, medium sized apple contains 25 total grams of carbohydrates, with 4.4 of those grams coming from dietary fiber and the other 19 grams coming from natural sugar. Whole apples also contain .42 grams of protein and tons of other vitamins and minerals. On the other hand, 8 ounces of apple juice takes 3-4 whole apples to make and contains 28 grams of total carbohydrates. 24 of those grams coming from natural sugar and only ½ a gram of dietary fiber. Apple juice contains no protein and it’s vitamin and mineral content has been diminished significantly.

This is a huge problem, and here’s why.

With the actual fruit you get several things that you don’t get when you just drink the juice. The fruit itself provides you with satisfaction and a sense of satiety because you actually have to chew something. Additionally, the whole fruit contains the dietary fiber which help you feel full. The actual fruit also provides you with a large quantity of vitamins and minerals that your body needs to stay healthy. All you are getting from just drinking the juice is a liquid form of the natural sugar from that fruit without the needed dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

As if that weren’t bad enough, remember that it takes 3-4 medium sized apples to make a single 8 ounce glass of apple juice! Would you ever sit down and eat 4 apples as a snack!?

Now let’s closely examine that amazing smoothie you make every day. What are the ingredients? Have you ever sat down and  weighed out/ measured each ingredient to find out exactly how many grams of carbohydrates, fat, and protein you’re consuming in that smoothie. You may be extremely surprised.

If you’re smoothie is nothing but fruit and water you’re not doing yourself any favors. To truly make a smoothie worth drinking there needs to be a balance of macronutrients involved

  • A base of veggies like greens, celery, carrots, beets etc.
  • A single fruit like berries, banana, pineapple, apple or mango to mask the taste of the veggies
  • A healthy source of fat like almond butter, avocado, cashew butter or canned coconut milk
  • A little bit of liquid like water, coconut water, almond milk or cashew milk
  • For additional protein you can add unflavored collagen peptides which will also give your hair, skin and nails a boost while also protecting your connective tissue

A smoothie with each of the above in it will give you a snack that will provide tons of nutrition while still being balanced.

Next, let’s examine the sports drinks, sodas, 5 hour energy, Monster and your Starbucks/ Dunkin Donuts habit and the the problem compounds even further.

The average American is consuming almost 20 teaspoons of sugar every day just via beverages alone! That adds up to about 66 POUNDS of sugar every year, and guess where most of that sugar ends up!?!?!?! Even if you aren’t overweight as a result of over-consumption of these types of drinks, they have a huge negative effect on you internally and significantly increase your risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes, a myriad of heart related issues, and Cancer.

You know that “normal” sized bottle of Gatorade you drink during a pickup game of ball with your friends or you give your kid during their weekly soccer game???

WELL… that “normal” sized bottle isn’t a single serving bottle. It actually contains 2.5 servings, which adds up to 52.5 grams of sugar! That Caramel Macchiato you love from Starbucks packs 33 grams of sugar!  They are nothing but empty calories and provide no usable nutrition for the body to thrive. Be your own best advocate and look at and really read the labels on your food and drinks.

Items like this are packaged for a reason that is NOT in your best interest in getting and staying healthy. Swap those sugary drinks for whole, real foods and you will not only feel better, but you will see increased results in how you feel overall and how you perform in the gym.