Should you be drinking your calories?

Water. Soda. Alcohol. Juice. Coffee. Tea. Smoothies. Bone Broth???

We drink a lot of stuff. Heck – I’ve even heard that Canadians like to chug syrup.

The problem is, that list above (not a complete list by the way), has some real calorie bombs on it.

And yes, pure maple syrup is a huge calorie bomb. Don’t chug maple syrup.

Unfortunately, a majority of the population doesn’t realize that their bulging waistline and/or other chronic metabolic issues are being caused by the liquidy goodness they dump down their gullets. When you boil it down to a nutrient level, sometimes that gulp you just took is the equivalent of a bite of something else.

Before we dive into the calories you should consider drinking moderately (or not at all), lets really quick cover the liquids you can/should drink in abundance.


Drink as much as you’d like:

Water – drink as much as you’d like. BUT, don’t over hydrate.  This is one of those things where you should just listen to your body. If you feel like you are choking down water, then you probably should stop drinking water for a little bit. For a treat, you should try unsweetened and sugarless sparkling water. As long as the ingredients are water and natural flavor, and there are zero grams of carbs in it, you have a good product. Sparkling water is a nice and fun beverage to sip/enjoy if tap water is too boring for you. I love sparkling water – I’m a fan of both Ozarka and La Croix (current news issues notwithstanding).

Herbal tea – drink as much as you’d like. I keep a nice variety of herbal teas in my desk and at home, and enjoy several different types over the course of the day.

Decaf coffee – if that is your thing, enjoy as much as you’d like. I’d say to shoot for decaf made via the Swiss Water method. After learning about the chemical processes used for decaffing coffee, I was very turned off at the prospect. The Swiss water method seems very c-l-e-a-n.

Regular coffee and caffeinated tea – as long as you don’t over-caffeinate (people’s tolerances vary), and as long as you don’t add a bunch of sugary crap to flavor your coffee, you can be pretty liberal in your consumption.

Bone Broth – this is starting to get a lot of attention as shelf-stable versions of bone broth become accessible. Previously, you had to make your own bone broth via stove top or crock pot, bag or jar it, and thaw/prep to consume. Really hardcore nutrition people didn’t bat an eye at the process. More time-crunched people just didn’t have the ability to go through the requisite steps. BUT, now that the stuff can be bought shelf-stable, more people are exposing themselves to it. There are a myriad of health benefits to consuming bone broth (not just chicken by the way). I’ll let Dr. Axe explain this one. If you don’t trust him, do a Google search for “bone broth benefits.” I personally love the stuff. I’m partial to chicken. I warm it up and sip it like coffee, or I use it as a base in my homemade chicken soup. The stuff really is incredible.


Exercise restraint:

Alcohol – ever hear the saying that alcohol is empty calories? That is because there is no nutritive value to alcohol. For those that aren’t familiar, alcohol and carbon-dioxide are the by products by yeast eating fermentable sugar chains during the fermentation process. From a metabolism standpoint, the problem with alcohol is that your body uses it for energy FIRST. All other sources (fat, glycogen, etc) are put aside so the body can work on metabolizing alcohol. This is such a wasted process for your body. If you over consume alcoholic beverages, you could be busting your waistline by either the calories in the alcoholic drink itself (beer, mixed drinks, etc all have additional sugar in them), or just from the simple act of having your body focus on the alcohol for fuel rather than other stuff that will ultimately get stored as fat. This post isn’t meant to advocate or demonize alcohol – that is a personal decision each person must make for themselves. The point of this passage is to say that if you do consume alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation, and if you have a larger nutrition plan where you are monitoring calories, be sure to include that glass of beer or glass of wine in your calculations. That extra 150 calories a night will add up over time if you aren’t taking it into account.

Me personally, I am a homebrewer of beer. Its a fun hobby, and I like to think I’ve learned how to enjoy such spirits responsibly. I do prescribe to the belief that a few drinks a week can reap some health benefits. Again – I’m not pushing this as a recommendation or lifestyle – I’m just saying to check out the information and make your own informed decision. Here is an article from Heathline that talks about benefits and risks. As you’ll see, this is a complex topic.

Juice – most people think that a glass of juice is a healthy part of their day. Its marketed as part of a balanced breakfast. Marketing materials can’t say, “100% real fruit juice” loud enough on their packaging. Parents pump their kids full of juice thinking they are providing vitamins and minerals and giving their kid everything he/she needs to win the day. The problem is that juice is loaded with sugar. Check out this blurb from the linked article…

soda and juice comparision

From a metabolic standpoint, apple juice has nearly as much sugar per serving as a can of Coke. That flood of sugar into the bloodstream kicks off an insulin response. The pancreas doesn’t care where the sugar came from (soda or juice) – it just sends a flood of insulin to clear out the sugar. Here is the big takeaway on juice – yes, it contains vitamins and minerals and nutrients. But – PLEASE USE CAUTION AND RESTRAINT when consuming. You can not drink a ton of the stuff without consequences. You need to monitor and restrict your servings. The better option to get the vitamins/minerals out of fruit is to actually eat the fruit. That way, you are getting the fiber that comes with the natural fruit package, and that helps blunt the insulin response.

Smoothies – smoothies are a more calorie dense version of juice, but are even sneakier in how they can injure your ability to manage your weight. Here are the nutrition facts for a Pumpkin Harvest Smoothie from the Jamba Juice website…

jamba juice smoothie.JPG

The SMALL portion has 44 grams of sugar. That is more than the can of Coke from our above juice example. Yes, there is protein, and fiber, and some other nutritional goodies. But that is 44 grams of sugar. Go ahead – have one for breakfast every day. Here is your pancreas after awhile…

sad pancreas

I’m not trying to demonize smoothies. Like juice, they do provide exposure to some nutritional goodies. I’m saying USE RESTRAINT. Don’t chug a large smoothie every morning and think you are winning the weight management fight. Aim for smoothies that have more veggies that fruit, and try to get that total sugar count down. Maybe some power greens, a scoop of protein powder, some nut butter, a half a banana, and half a cup of berries. It tastes good, and its much lower in sugar than the Jamba Juice version. Again, and I’ll keep saying it – the name of the game is to NOT DRINK SUGAR!


Probably Best to Avoid All Together:

SODA – I’ll be honest – I have no qualms whatsoever with demonizing soda. Soda is a demon and should go away. People should stop drinking regular soda, diet soda, and any other soda type derivatives. I’ll let Google take this one…

Me: “Google – is soda healthy?”


soda unhealthy.JPG

I swear I didn’t plan it this way. The first SENTENCE in the pinned response is, “…the sugar and acids in soda are a disaster for dental health…” Then, look down at the first hit under the People also Ask section. The last sentence in that abstract is, “…regular consumption of sugary drinks is linked to numerous health problems including diabetes, heart disease, asthma, COPD, and obesity…”

The movie, “That Sugar Film” introduced me to what are called Mountain Dew Teeth. This is really sad. I almost didn’t want to include this in the post, but, if it convinces one person to not let their kid drink soda, then its worth it. Do a Google search for “Mountain Dew Teeth” and prepare to have your heart broken.

mountain dew teeth

One could argue that I can safely list soda under the same area where I talked about juice, alcohol, and smoothies. Anything is good in moderation – right?


I’d respectfully disagree. I’d argue that a product which can lead to “Mountain Dew Teeth” should get kicked off the bridge. At least with those other beverages, you can find a benefit to the controlled consumption of the item. I’d argue that there is nothing redeeming about soda, and any small fraction of nutritional value it might have is completely dwarfed by how bad it is holistically. I’m taking a firm position that soda is the devil, and should be avoided at all costs. The really sad thing is the fallacy surrounding diet soda. It might actually be more dangerous than regular soda depending on the artificial sweetener used. People guzzle diet soda because they think they can have their cake and eat it too. More and more research is coming out to show that just isn’t so.


Final Thoughts:

I used to drink soda. Don’t get me wrong. It does taste sweet, so I get it. And that fizz makes it refreshing. When I started striving for a healthier lifestyle, soda was the first thing I kicked off the bridge. For many years, I drank juice and made smoothies thinking I was hacking the nutritional system. In retrospect, consuming those items may have contributed to the slow creep that happened to my waistline in my late 20’s. I’ll also bet that it played a role in me not losing weight when I did extreme workout programs. At the end of the day, sugar is sugar. The body doesn’t care if its juice or soda. Insulin gets released. Glucose gets shuttled out of the blood to the muscles and what is left gets stored in fat cells. End of story. The way to keep your weight in check (or lose if that is your goal) is to dial in your sugar consumption. That doesn’t mean just food – it means looking at the seemingly innocuous calories you find in the stuff you drink every day. Cut that stuff back, and you’ll make some pretty nice strides towards you goals.



What are your thoughts about sugary drinks? Have you made a decision to try and limit the amount of liquid calories you consume? If so, please let us know in the comments. If you enjoyed this post, please “like” and share. Thank you.