— By KATHY SMITH
Sipping on an ice-cold drink can help quench thirst and reduce the heat of the hot summer days, but cool liquid calories can add up faster than you might think.
Hydration is important, so with a little planning you can enjoy those cool beverages without seeing later regret on the scales. Choose beverages more often that have no calories or the fewest calories and the most nutritional advantages.
• Drink plain water more often. It is calorie free, healthful and readily available. Many flavored waters are loaded with sugar and labels can be deceptive. If you are not sharing a 12-ounce drink, it is 2 servings and not one which is twice the calories. If water isn’t your first choice alternate caloric drinks with plain water.
• Make your own infused flavored water minus the calories. Add fresh citrus slices from oranges, lemons and limes or crushed fresh mint. For those who like fizzy drinks, go for sparkling water and step it up with a splash of juice.
• When choosing juice to drink, make sure it is 100 percent juice. Many juices have added sweeteners such as sugar, sucrose or high fructose corn syrup. Read the label and the ingredients to find out if the juice you select is 100 percent. If you choose a fruit punch or other fruit beverage you may consume as little as 10 percent juice and lots of added sugar. Also a word of caution is to not fill up on juice in place of other healthy foods.
• Many people love flavored iced coffee beverages. The ice does not dilute the extra sugar calories from the flavored syrups and fat calories. Try drinks with fat free or low-fat milk or just plain iced coffee. Though plain iced coffee is not as much fun, it is a better choice, even if you add your own sugar.
• Tea is a good choice for a calorie-free drink. There are many varieties including caffeinated or decaf and herbal teas. Most bottled teas are high in calories, but home brewed teas are easy to make and are less expensive. Teas flavored with fruit, herbs and spices can add a sweet taste with not calories. For an extra zip add citrus zest and a teaspoon of sugar or honey and you add only 15 calories or try calorie-free sweeteners. Teas are also high in antioxidants and flavonoids.
• What about alcoholic beverages? Many people enjoy an ice cold beer or a glass of wine to cool down, but those extra alcohol calories can result in added weight. To reduce calories, make your wine a spritzer or your beer a shandy. Mix wine half and half with sparkling water for a spritzer. To make a shandy, mix your beer in equal amounts with a low-calorie carbonated citrus beverage. Spritzer or a shandy allows you to have two drinks for about the calorie cost of one alcoholic drink.
Enjoy your favorite beverages during the summer and take advantage of the outdoors to compensate those extra calories. Having fun in the sun walking, jogging, or biking burns them off and gives you another reason to look forward to cool liquid refreshments.
Source: Colorado State University Extension
Kathy Smith is a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service agent for Parker County. Contact her at (817) 598-6168 or firstname.lastname@example.org.