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Glug, glug, glug. That's the sound of pounds being poured on. Studies show that we're chugging 411 liquid calories daily, almost 130 more than we consumed in 1990, and all those sips are adding up. "We don't compensate for what we drink by cutting back on food," says Barry Popkin, PhD, a professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "We still eat the same amount." So slurp a whipped coffee drink at breakfast, a few cans of soda in the afternoon, and a couple of cocktails with dinner and you've just doubled your calorie intake -- and your chances of weight gain -- without realizing it. "Sipping versus chewing changes how our bodies recognize and process the calories we take in," Popkin explains. Some experts suspect that eating, which involves munching and crunching, sends signals to the brain that trigger satiety. "Drinks don't require as much effort to consume, so it's easy to overdo them," says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RD, a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association. You can still enjoy your faves and not gain an ounce: Just follow our sip-smarter guide.
Hit the Bottle
A water bottle, that is. The old eight-cups-a-day rule no longer has merit, researchers say, because we get plenty of H2O from other sources, including fruits, vegetables, coffee, and tea. But sipping at least a few glasses of water daily can deliver some serious benefits, including weight loss. "Thirst can masquerade as hunger, so a lot of times we eat when really our bodies just need water," says Keri Glassman, RD, author of The O2 Diet. To tell the difference, drink a glass of water and wait 15 minutes. If your stomach is still grumbling, have a snack. If not, you were probably dehydrated.