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The Sipping Point: Calorie-Packed Drinks and Your Weight

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Managing Your Thirst

So how to stay slim without giving up your daily fix? Below, the experts spill some secrets.

Drink, don't sip. Sounds counterintuitive, we know, but how satisfied you feel after you drink a caloric beverage depends partly on how quickly you consume it, says G. Harvey Anderson, PhD, a professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Toronto. Slowly sipping a bottle of sweetened iced tea over the course of an hour isn't going to make you feel full or suppress your appetite. If you're splurging on the sugary stuff, try to finish it within 10 minutes or so to stimulate normal psychological signals of satiety.

Load your glass with ice. "Your body has to work to heat up cold beverages in order to digest them, so you'll burn one calorie for every icy-cold ounce you drink," Wansink explains. This means that if you guzzle eight 8-ounce glasses of ice water a day, you'll burn an extra 64 calories, just like that.

Practice the 10-20 technique. People underestimate the number of calories in a beverage by around 30 percent, says Wansink. So he developed this guideline: "Thin drinks" (soft drinks, juice, punch, whole milk) have about 10 calories per ounce; "thick drinks" (smoothies, meal-replacement shakes, malts) have about 20 calories per ounce. You can look up the calorie counts for your favorite drinks, from cocktails to cappuccinos.

 

Drink smaller. Just like dishes, drinking glasses are supersized these days, which makes it easy to pour yourself way too much. To keep tabs on how many calories you're consuming, Elisabetta Politi, RD, nutrition manager for the Duke University Diet and Fitness Center, suggests buying glasses that hold no more than 8 ounces.

Write it down. If you put on paper everything you drink each day, it will force you to become more aware of how much you're consuming. "People always underestimate calories, particularly with beverages," says Politi. Just say no. Studies show that drinking alcohol before having a meal can lead you to eat more than you would otherwise, explains Rolls. "Alcohol lowers inhibitions and stimulates the appetite," she says. If you feel like indulging, have a drink with your food.

Have a cow. Milk can be a great part of a healthy diet, says Anderson. "It's got a good balance of nutrients." Plus, it's a healthier choice than sugary soda.

Take a moderate approach. Can't give up soda completely? No worries. You don't have to deprive yourself. Just cut back by half, from four colas to two, for example, and you'll save 272 calories. Remember, the goal is everything in moderation.

Make a juice cocktail. Mix 4 ounces of juice with 4 ounces of water or club soda. You'll get the sweet taste you crave for half the calories.

Choose wisely. Thick drinks, such as low-sodium V-8, protein shakes, or smoothies, are good choices when you're feeling hungry. Clear soups, made from chicken or vegetable broth, although they're not technically beverages, are also a smart way to satisfy a growling stomach without adding a lot of extra calories to your meal.

Don't count on water to fill you up. Despite what you may have heard, drinking water before or during a meal won't make you feel full, say experts. Water satisfies only thirst, not hunger.

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