To Your Health
July, 2011 (Vol. 05, Issue 07)
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You Are What You Drink

By Carrie Wiatt

Not all calories are the same, especially when it comes to the calories you drink. Most people tend to revolve their diet plans around the foods they consume, often forgetting that what they drink on a daily basis is just as important.

Countless drinks on the market tend to be very high in sugar content, which we all know eventually turns into fat, derailing our weight-loss goals.

Some drinks are also loaded with tons of calories that often can be just as high as an entire meal. Learning what drinks to watch out for and which ones to consume can make a big difference in your overall weight and health. Let's take a look at a few healthy options that can help you meet your long-term goals.

When it comes to finding the perfect drink to complement your healthy eating goals, the number-one thing you need is just five letters: water!

Water is a basic beverage that provides essential benefits like helping to digest your food properly and hydrating the body, but most importantly, it contains zero calories.

How much water should you drink, and when? When it comes to water, you should drink approximately 2 quarts (8 cups) of water a day. Most of your body (approximately 65 percent) is composed of water. Water is the most important power nutrient; without enough water, nutrients like carbs, proteins and fats can't get into your body's cells. Water helps your body work optimally and should be considered the drink of choice when pursuing long-term weight-loss goals.

soda - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark What's an easy way to get your daily water intake and start the day off right? Down two 8-ounce glasses of water upon waking to rehydrate, boost circulation, and jump-start your metabolism. Drinking water 30 minutes before a meal can help prepare the digestive system to fully absorb nutrients that will be provided in your food. Then, wait to drink water until 30 minutes after your meal to allow for full digestion.

Drinking water sounds easy, but what happens when the basic drink doesn't satisfy your taste buds? Try adding excitement to your water with cucumber, mint, a slice of lemon or orange, or even cherries when in season. Here's an exclusive H20 pick-me-up recipe: Whip up some refreshing minty lemon cucumber water. Add 2 quarts water, one sliced lemon, half a sliced cucumber, and mint sprigs to a glass pitcher. Let steep in the fridge for 30 minutes. Serve over ice and enjoy!

If you can't do water all the time, here are a few other options to consider. Try coconut water instead of sugar-based flavored water drinks. Coconut water is advertised as "fat-free, cholesterol-free, low-calorie, super-hydrating, naturally rich in electrolytes." It is a healthy option when you need a boost of energy. On occasion, coconut water may be a beneficial choice due to its naturally high levels of potassium. Watch serving sizes, as most have about 50 calories per serving. Note: Most research shows that it shouldn't replace sports drinks for very active individuals, in whom higher levels of sodium are important.