Earlier this week, I wrote a post about easy ways to make the most out of unavoidable fast food dining experiences. For this post I want to highlight another simple and effortless way to keep healthy. If you’re at all like me, then you love to stay active. There’s nothing I would rather do than play a pickup game with my friends. Needless to say, Spring is my favorite time of the year because of the beautiful weather and the chance it provides for outdoor activities. I make it my goal to try to sweat everyday while performing some type of physical activity. This is a great way to make sure you find time to have some fun, and release some energy and stress. Not to mention, it is great exercise and excellent for your health.
After I come home from playing basketball, or working out, or going for a run, or whatever it was I was doing, the first thing I do is go straight to the refrigerator to grab a cold drink. Now as you might know from reading some of my previous posts, I live in a typical college house with four of my buddies. So, I’m sure you can probably imagine the contents of our refrigerator. But, I push the soda, beer, sports drinks, and energy drinks aside, and go for the pitcher of water. During all my meals and throughout the day I try to drink water whenever it’s an option. This is an incredibly easy way to help keep healthy and fit. When I’m in the mood for something a bit tastier, I’ll choose a fruit juice.
The truth is that as of 2009 the average American consumes 50 gallons of soda and other sweetened beverages each year. That’s about 533 12-ounce cans of soda each year. A 12-ounce soda typically contains anywhere from 124-189 calories. So for convenience, let’s assume the average can of soda contains 150 calories. That means the average American consumes somewhere around (depending on the combination of types of drinks consumed) 80,000 calories each year from sodas and other sweetened beverages!
Sticking to water eliminates this massive amount of calories from your diet. But, even better is that water does not contain other ingredients, such as high fructose corn syrup, that are commonly found in sodas and other sugary drinks. Water is essential for our bodily functions and every bodily system uses water. Substituting sugary drinks with water not only reduces your calorie and fat intake, but it also actively reduces your body fat, as water has been shown to help reduce fat deposits. The benefits associated with water intake are virtually endless and go as far as reducing your risk of cancer.
Often times, clever marketing tactics fool consumers into thinking their beverage is beneficial to their health. For example, let’s take a look at the very popular drink, Vitamin Water. Even the name sounds like it must be one of the healthiest options out there… water fortified with vitamins. Truth be told, Vitamin Water has more sugar and more calories in a single bottle than a can of Coke. So, next time when you’re about to gulp down your favorite “healthy” drink take a quick look at the nutritional info and think about drinking a glass of water instead.
Personally, I try to drink water whenever possible, knowing that sometimes drinking something other than water is simply inevitable. Try to start making small adjustments in your diet until choosing to drink water becomes habitual. For example, you might want to start by eliminating that mid-afternoon soda refreshment that many of us have become accustomed to. Eventually, your beverage diet will consist primarily of water. And, when you are in the mood for something else, try a fruit juice or a glass of skim milk. These are two tasty and relatively healthy alternatives.
Water, is one of the most important substances for humans to consume. It’s refreshing, good for you, cheaper than most drinks, and luckily for many of us Americans it’s widely available. So, challenge yourself to start substituting your sugary drinks with water…you will soon be glad that you did.