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Liquid Calories

Posted: Nov 20, 2014


Liquid Calories


Most likely the first of many recommendations for weight managment is always to reduce liquid calories. So why do healthcare professionals continue to target drinks as the first step in calorie reduction when there are many foods that are higher in calories, sodium and fat?

Before I address this question, I think it is important to highlight how many calories and grams of sugar are hiding in your favorite beverages.

Here are some examples:




1 can of cola



1 medium latté (without whip)



1 cup (250ml) orange juice



1 cup (250ml) chocolate milk



1 bottle Gatorade



1 energy drink



4oz wine



1 bottle of regular beer




As you can see, these commonly consumed beverages contain a tremendous amount of calories and sugar, which can add up very quickly throughout the day.

The major concern with drinking your calories, versus eating them, is that liquids do not have the same effect on satiety or fullness as solids. Research has shown that when people eat their calories, they naturally compensate by reducing the rest of their food intake for the day. Alternatively, when people drink liquid calories, they do not compensate by eating fewer calories. Therefore, the beverages you have throughout the day will likely be extra calories on top of the food you are consuming.

To put this into perspective, let’s imagine you had a glass of orange juice with breakfast, a latté mid-morning, chocolate milk at lunch, a pop mid-afternoon and a beer with your dinner à that is a total of 698 calories and 89 grams of sugar!!!! If you were to consume these drinks every day for a year, that would equal 254770 calories, or 73 (theoretical) pounds!!

The good news is that since liquid calories don’t contribute to a sense of fullness, decreasing them shouldn’t result in feelings of hunger. What can you drink instead? Tap water should be your go to drink as it is a calorie, sugar and cost free beverage. If you do feel like having a sweet drink, try one that is artificially sweetened. These drinks are calorie and sugar free, regulated by Health Canada, and scientifically proven to be safe in the quantities that we would normally consume them*.

All of this is not to say that you can never have your favorite sweetened drinks again, just that you should be mindful of how much and how often you are having them.  At the end of the day, if you’re trying to lose weight, eat your calories, don’t drink them. 


*Products that are not safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding are: SugarTwin® (Cyclamate), Sweet’N Low® (Saccharin, Hermesetas®)