Retrofit Blog

Knowledge is Power: Soft Drinks By the Numbers

June 24, 2014

All calories are not created equal and studies show that quantity counts as much as quality. So, when Retrofit client Guy Kawasaki recently joined the online conversation helping draw attention to a brutally honest look at the soft drink industry, it provided a much-needed shout-out for consumers to get educated about soda consumption and its effects on our daily diets.

"Let's face it, it's no surprise to anyone that Coke doesn't fall into the health food category, but wouldn't it be nice for a change if we got a big gulp of reality wrapped in a slick corporate ad?" reads the blog entry on Holy Kaw! posted by Kate Rinsema. "If Coke made an honest commercial about its role in the obesity epidemic, it might look something like this spot from YouTube user John Pemberton.

The statistics surrounding soft drink consumption are staggering. The average American drinks approximately 20 ounces of soda each day, making it the number one source of calories in our diets, or 7 percent of the average person's caloric intake.

One small soft drink is filled with 9 teaspoons of sugar, or 140 calories per can. These calories bring sugar and chemicals to your body and have no nutritional value.

For your overall weight loss or weight management routine, keeping it simple when it comes to drinks is the best solution. Drink calorie-free. Drink sugar-free. Water - and lots of it - is obviously best choice. Once in a while as a calorie splurge, a soft drink is not going to throw your low-calorie eating off track, but awareness to the importance of occasional is key. Drinking calories can be wasteful.

Soft drinks are not the only beverages that need to be avoided when trying to lose weight. A recently published list of Top 10 List of Beverages to Avoid includes lemonade, sports drinks, fruit juices and even some protein drinks.

But, there are healthier alternative to soda. If you crave bubbles, try a calorie-free seltzer water. There are many seltzer flavors to choose from, but none contain as much sugar and calories that come with a regular soda. If you must have a soda, limit yourself to one serving of regular or diet soda per week.

Another beverage worthy of consideration on occasion is red wine. Red wine in moderation can serve as a heart-healthy treat. One five-ounce glass of wine has actually proved to be a better drink choice for calorie-conscious diners than a soft drink. Red wine contains antioxidants called polyphenols, which may help protect the lining of blood vessels in your heart. A polyphenol called resveratrol is one substance in red wine that's gotten some good attention. The Mayo Clinic reports that resveratrol might be a key ingredient that also helps reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the "bad" cholesterol) and prevent blood clots.

Whenever the beverage industry puts itself in the spotlight, it is surely going to find ways to entice us to quench our thirst with calorie-laden drinks. Consumers are now getting smarter and bringing much-needed attention to some of the issues sure to sabotage any weight loss effort. Knowledge, of course, can be a powerful tool.

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Amy Margulies Retrofit Registered Dietitian

Amy is the Lead Registered Dietitian at Retrofit and a Certified Diabetes Educator. She has been educating about healthy eating for nearly 20 years. She helps clients find realistic ways to improve their overall health while successfully managing their weight.

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