A large Coke from McDonald’s contains more than 300 calories and almost 90 grams of sugar. This drink is often ordered along with a sandwich that may contain twice as many calories and about as many grams of fat.
While the food isn’t healthy, adding high-calorie drinks loaded with sugar and zero nutritional value only makes it that much worse on your body. Drinking excess calories contributes to obesity and may make you crave more food even when your stomach is full.
Sodas aren’t the only unhealthy beverage sabotaging weight loss efforts and leading millions of people toward diabetes, heart disease, and early graves. A coffee drink from Starbucks can easily contain more than 500 calories, and some people enjoy those drinks several times a week just to get their day started. That does far more than keep you awake until lunchtime.
The answer isn’t to give up all drinks beyond water, even though water is the healthiest option. The answer is to learn about the best beverages for your health in different situations. When you stop cutting corners to pick up the fastest and tastiest drink available, you can prepare drinks that push you toward your health and fitness goals rather than sabotaging your success.
When to Have… WATER
You can add fresh citrus fruit to bring life to your water, but there are three times when you need to put down the soda and suck down the aqua:
① You are experiencing signs of dehydration, including headaches, fatigue, lack of concentration and moodiness.
Sugary drinks will only make dehydration worse. At the least, it will affect your ability to function effectively in daily life. At the worst, it can become a serious medical issue.
The only answer is to give your body the water it needs. How much is that? Approximately 88 ounces a day for women and about 120 ounces for men, but you may find that your body needs more or less.
② You’re trying to lose weight.
Studies have found that drinking a couple cups of water just before eating a meal can accelerate weight loss results.
The side effects of dehydration can also interfere with your ability to lose weight, so water bottles up for weight loss.
③ You workout for less than 90 minutes.
Sports drinks are considered the best option after a workout, but the excess calorie and sugar intake isn’t justified unless your workout session went beyond 90 consecutive minutes.
Your body needs water to cushion your joints and replenish your muscles, and those extra electrolytes aren’t needed for short workouts or those that aren’t overly aggressive. Staying hydrated with water is the best way to prepare your body to handle workouts.
When to Have… TEA
You don’t want to sweeten your tea with a bunch of sugar, but there are two instances in which tea does the body good.
① You’re suffering the side effects of caffeine withdrawal.
Black tea has some caffeine (It has about 50 mg of caffeine per 8 oz. cup), but far less than coffee and junky sodas. You may suffer side effects from caffeine withdrawal when giving up those mega drinks from Starbucks or soda in general, so keep black tea on hand.
② You are suffering from indigestion or uncomfortable stomach issues.
Teas are known to improve digestion by neutralizing the stomach acids. So, when your tummy starts to rumble, reach for Oolong tea which is best in supporting your digestive system due to its detoxifying properties.
However, drinking earl gray or lady gray tea with added ginger and bergamot can yield even greater stomach-smoothing effects.
When to Have… JUICE
Juice isn’t always the best beverage for your health because it’s high in calories and may contain a lot of sugar. There are three instances in which juice is the right answer. It’s best to make your juice or find a store-bought brand that limits the sugar and is 100% juice.
① You’re suffering the pain of constipation.
Drink prune juice in the morning along with complex carbs and lean protein to kick off the metabolism. The juice will provide calcium, iron, vitamin C and nutrients along with high insoluble fiber needed to get your system moving.
② You are prone to developing urinary tract infections (UTI).
100% cranberry juice is rich in substances that can help release bacteria’s hold on your bladder, relieving discomfort and helping cure the condition.
This is an excellent natural remedy when you feel a UTI coming on, but you may want to make cranberry juice a staple in your diet if you suffer routine infections.
③ Cravings for high-fat food win, and you enjoy a cheat meal.
High-fat foods like hamburgers or fries can cause immediate inflammation and discomfort as your body races to process and eliminate the toxins.
One tall glass of orange juice right after the meal provides the antioxidants your body needs to reduce that inflammation and protect your blood vessels from damage. Drink one glass after a high-fat meal.
When to Have… COFFEE
Your body never needs 500 calories of sugar-coated coffee, but there are times when firing up the coffee machine is the best thing you can do for your body.
① You’re at high risk for developing type II diabetes.
The magnesium and chromium naturally found in coffee help the body utilize insulin in a healthy manner, helping control your blood sugar levels. It’s actually healthy as long as you don’t load it up with sugar, creamer, full-fat milk and whipped cream.
② You’re determined to overcome depression.
Studies have shown that caffeinated coffee can lift the mood of depressed people, so fill up your mug to lift your mood.
When to Have… MILK
You Want to Shed Fat:
You know that milk is good for bone density, but the benefits also extend to enhancing fat burning. Studies have shown that people who consume adequate amounts of dairy lose more fat than those consuming less dairy.
This doesn’t take other lifestyle factors into consideration, and you don’t have to limit yourself to drinking milk. Yogurt and other dairy products help as well.
When to Have… BEER
You Want an Endurance Boost:
Getting completely sloshed to the point you can’t remember where you put your shoes is never healthy, but there are times when a bit of dark beer or red wine can boost your health.
Dark beer contains a lot of iron that helps transfer oxygen from your lungs to all cells in your body. It also contains healthy antioxidants that help your body fight off infection and recover from intense workouts.
Red wine also contains powerful antioxidants that can benefit your body when consumed in moderation.
When to Have… LEMONADE
You Want Some Immune Support:
When you need to detox or want to boost your immune system, deliver the vitamin C with a big glass of iced lemonade. Freshly-squeezed lemon juice with water and a healthy sweetener is the best recipe. Approved sweeteners include stevia, raw honey or raw agave.
When to Have… A SMOOTHIE
You Need a Meal-on-the-Go:
When your life gets busy, and you need to grab something to eat fast, stay away from fast food. You can make a healthy smoothie at home by combining fresh vegetables, leafy greens, fruit, seeds, nuts and some liquid, such as fresh juice, almond milk, coconut milk or water.