Soft drinks and energy drinks can contain massive hits of energy, caffeine ... and sugar. Photo: Jeffrey Chan
As a culture obsessed by dieting, we inherently concentrate on saying no to the pizza, burgers, chocolate, and fried foods. Changing what we eat, putting down the knife and fork and focusing on portion control can be quite the challenge.
But could the most dangerous utensil you employ be a straw? From low to high kilojoule/calorie content, here are some popular drink choices that are dangerous to your waistline, and potentially your health:
Can't miss with a smoothie, right? Wrong.
From the grocery store to the convenience store, there are endless choices for apple juice. One company boasts of fresh juice from nothing other than five apples. That's 520kJ (124 calories) of apple juice hitting your gut in one go.
To hydrate and quench your thirst at the gym, a sports drink might be your choice. You're also choosing 618kJ (147 calories) to negate your workout.
We are a generation of soft drink fiends. At the train station, restaurants, fast food joints, bars, malls, and corner shops … it's often easier to find than water. People drink one, two and three bottles of this stuff per day. Just one bottle of soft drink contains a whopping 1080kJ (258 calories).
Gotta get huge, right? Flavoured protein might be the go. In a small juice box of 375ml, your post-gym hit contains 30g of protein, but also packs 1100kJ (262 calories). The box I'm holding boasts of being 99 per cent fat free, yet according to the Mayo Clinic, it will takes a 91kg individual jogging at 13km/h around 15 minutes* to work off that one drink.
A few wines each night might negate a bit of stress and anxiety, but half a bottle of plonk averages about 1170kJ (279 calories).
You're feeling sluggish at work, or maybe readying yourself to jump out of a plane parachute-free. Perfect time for an energy drink, right? A large energy drink contains 1430kJ (341 calories). Sure you'll get a boost from all that sugar and caffeine, but so will your waistline.
On the way to work, a "low-fat" banana smoothie sounds healthy and safe, right? But your creamy, fruity choice can pack a mammoth 1921kJ (458 calories) for a 610ml (large) serving. Tasty, yet scary.
If your daily consumption contained each of the elements from above, you'd be looking at consuming more than 243,000kJ in a month. Since 37,000kJ equates to 1kg of fat, drinking this much would equates to just under 6.5kg of added fat, or 77kg per year, you're going to have to burn off.
Drink less of this stuff by charting your consumption over the next week. Over the subsequent two weeks, consume half the amount and replace it with healthier options. Over the next two, halve it again - a 75 per cent reduction is life-changing.
So, what you should be drinking?
Not only is water the healthiest choice, imagine how much money you'd save each year if you halted the soft drink and energy drink purchases and just grabbed the tap and a glass. Your body is made up of 70 pe cent water. It needs and wants water.
Coffee and various herbal teas
I don't drink either due to taste preference, but herbal tea has many beneficial health effects on the body. Two cups of black coffee per day is reasonable; but remember, caffeine is a drug. Further, watch the sugar, fruit, and milky additions - some coffee joints have turned the standard cup into a caffeinated smoothie.
Green (and fruit) juice
Next time you're at your local juicer, ask for an "all green" juice. Kale, spinach, cucumber, capsicum ... juice it all. The sugar content will be heaps lower than a fruit smoothie, and you'll gain many of the vitamins and minerals that vegetables provide. Feel free to add a bit of sweetness by blending in some watermelon, fresh apple or orange juice. And don't forget to eat your fruit and vegies. Fibre is important.
Alcohol (in moderation)
Silly season is around the corner, and going 100 per cent booze-free may not be realistic for some. Choose your moments wisely, enjoy your parties, but try to drink less each week and each month.
We've talked in the past about how you are what you eat, but you also are what you drink. So think a little bit about what you're putting into your body before that straw touches your lips, and it could save you kilograms … and your health.
* This figure has been amended from an earlier, incorrect calculation.