News & Events

Drinking your calories: A waste of calories and energy

Sara Pinson, R.D.

You are sitting at a restaurant and here comes the waiter. “Can I start you folks off with anything to drink?” You reply, “I will just have a soda please.” It is not “just” a soda – a small 12-ounce soda consists of about 140 calories and 39 grams of sugar. If drank two cans or 24 ounces of soda everyday for one week, you would be pouring three cups of sugar into your body which is enough to gain more than half a pound. That half pound is just from drinking soda and does not include the food you also consume that week. 

Unfortunately, juice is not a significantly healthier option either. In an average 8-ounce single serving of apple juice, you will find just more than 100 calories and 24 grams or six teaspoons of sugar! Think of it this way – 8 ounces of juice for seven days equals almost one cup of sugar!  

What about vegetable juice? There is far less sugar in vegetable juice; however, in an average 8-ounce single serving portion of 100-percent vegetable juice, there is approximately 480 mg of sodium. One teaspoon of table salt consists of 2,300 mg of salt. Remove the salt shaker from the table and limit your purchases of vegetable juices!  

So what do I drink? H-2-0, more commonly known as water, is your best option. Water, whether it is bottled, purified or tap, is the best option for avoiding excess calorie intake through your daily fluids, and also helps your body stay hydrated and healthy. 

Our bodies are made up of nearly 70 percent water which includes our muscles, blood, skin and cells. When you drink sodas or juices the added sugar and sodium is not only adding calories to your body, it also is making your body less efficient. 

When you drink sugary or salty drinks your organs have to process those sugars and salts making your body use up more energy, which can make you feel tired. Most people will then drink more sugar for that initial “sugar-rush” feeling to keep them going, and the cycle continues throughout the day. 

Over time, these sodas, juices and other drinks can lead to long-term health problems and have been associated with the development of diabetes in some people. The added calories alone from these drinks coupled with the growing portion sizes have helped increase America’s obesity rate over the last 30 years. 

Stick with water and you will find yourself slimming down, feeling more energized and overall being a healthier person.

Sara Pinson, R.D., is a registered dietitian with Fit Kids of Arizona – A regional community health initiative developed by Northern Arizona Healthcare, with programs at Verde Valley Medical Center and Flagstaff Medical Center addressing one of the largest healthcare concerns facing the U.S. – childhood obesity. For more information on the Fit Kids of Arizona program, call 928 639-6343 or visit Services/FitKidsofArizona.