With the summer months creeping closer, the weather isn't the only thing heating up.
For many of us, the festive season often means our social calendars fill up with parties, BBQs and work dos to look forward to. We all know about the importance of eating the right foods, but we should be just as mindful of what we are drinking too.
Many drinks can contain sneaky empty calories that provide no nutritional benefit, and can lead to weight gain, an increased diabetes risk, heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure.
Alcohol: The worst offender
The worst offender It's no surprise that alcohol is the biggest culprit when it comes to high-calorie drinks with no nutritional value. One shot of spirits is around 100 calories.
Add this to a sugar-laden cocktail or mixer and we can be ingesting up to 300 calories per drink, which can be about 20% of our daily intake based on our energy needs and activity levels.
Also, when we drink alcohol, it presses pause on our metabolisms, stopping the body from burning what we most recently ate as it breaks down the alcohol first.
Not all calories are created equal
The body does not recognise a drink entering our system the same way it does with food.
With proteins, fats and carbohydrates, the release of insulin enables you to break down food and use it as energy. However, sweet beverages such as juice, fizzy drink or flavoured coffee are quickly absorbed and our bodies' response is to release insulin to try to keep blood sugar in control.
Stop the sugar
When we're thirsty, it's tempting to reach for flavoured waters and sugary drinks for that sweet hit. But if you're looking to lose weight, the easiest way is to ditch these drinks. Studies show that those who swap sugary beverages for water or unsweetened tea or coffee achieve weight loss.
Removing extra sugar or sweetener from your coffee is a quick way to reduce your intake – it's better for your teeth and your taste buds will soon get used to the difference.
Size does matter
Like meal portions, the size of your drink matters too. It's very tempting to supersize (especially with coffee), but the bigger the drink, the more empty calories we ingest. It can be too easy to consume large amounts of liquid that don't provide us with the nutrients our bodies need.
We know how much fizzy drinks give us a sugar rush, but store-bought smoothies, juices and caffeinated beverages are often filled with sugar too. The best
option? Try water with a squeeze of lemon or create your own smoothie at home as it's cheaper and won't be loaded with extra additives. Green tea is another thirst-quenching alternative that's high in antioxidants and nutrients.