If you have ever tried to lose weight, you know that you are hyper aware of everything you eat, but what happens when what your drink is the cause of your weight gain or at least your inability to lose weight?  

The other day at work I went to Dunkin Donuts, like every good police officer should, to get my daily dose of caffeine.  However, since it was almost 90 degrees and I was wearing a vest that made it feel like 100 degrees, I decided to enjoy a frozen coffee instead of my normal medium black coffee.  

Later that evening I went to log my food for the day and was surprised how well I did and began to feel very proud of myself, then I remembered I should add my coffee, since this was different than the 5 calorie drink I normally consume.  When I plugged the Frozen Mocha Coffee into My Fitness Pal, an ungodly number popped up.  I assumed that someone had entered it incorrectly so I went directly to Dunkin Donut’s Nutrition page.  To my horror, the calorie count was correct…. 900!!!! 900 calories for my medium mid day caffeine boost.  

Needless to say I did not stay within my intended meal plan goals.  This got me thinking, how often do we drink something that is negatively impacting our diets or weight loss plan without even realizing it.  Now it would be easy if I could just stay away from the fancy lattes or frozen frappes, but during my research, I found that an excess of caffeine in any form can actually negatively impact your ability to shed those extra pounds. 

While it’s true that a bit of caffeine can help rev your metabolism, especially when ingested before exercise, too much of the stuff can have the opposite effect. A research team in Washington found drinking more than 5 cups of coffee a day increased participant’s visceral belly fat by a whopping 50 percent. Other researchers have found that consuming too much chlorogenic acid (a compound found in coffee) can prevent fat loss and lead to insulin resistance.

Can’t shake your caffeine habit? I totally get it, and you don’t have to.  Cut yourself off at three cups of caffeine daily, and be sure to drink plenty of the new miracle weight loss drink: water. After drinking just two cups of water, research participants’ metabolic rates increased by 30 percent, according to a Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism study.  Those researchers estimate that increasing water intake by about 6 cups can burn an extra 17,400 calories over the course of the year—which translates to five pounds!

Another big offender in the beverage department is alcohol.  As much as that “glass of wine is good for your health” line may in fact be true, since when is a night on the town just a single serving of red wine and done?  Wine averages 150 calories a glass, and it is one of the better options out there.  Cocktails run about 300 calories per drink and my favorite margaritas average 600 calories for a basic lime margarita!  And since you can not have a margarita without chips and salsa, there goes your summer bod.  

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These drinks are referred to as empty calories.  What that boils down to is you are ingesting calories that offer no beneficial purpose such as vitamins or minerals.  In doing this you are providing no fuel or nutrition but racking up calories for the day.  Since it would be even more harmful to give up the food that is needed to support your body, you end up going over your recommended daily numbers.

What about those sports drinks you think you are helping your body out by replenishing the electrolytes after working out?  It may surprise you to know that unless you are a true endurance athlete, working at a peak level for over an hour, these drinks may be actually doing more harm than good. You will find that sports drinks offer no nutritional value.  They are loaded with calories and while they do promote hydration by providing electrolytes to help you retain water, they contain about as much sugar as half a soda.  Another side effect is they offer you a short burst of energy followed by an extreme low after.  

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Maybe you think you will just stick with the naturally provided beverages, milk and juice.  Wrong again!  A lot of the beverages claiming to be made from real fruit juice actually contain less than 10% juice and are loaded with sugar.  Even if you find a beverage that is 100 percent real fruit juice it is lacking.  Most of your daily servings of fruits and vegetables should come from actual pieces of fruits and vegetables. Real fruits and vegetables contain the daily fiber your body needs that you won’t find in fruit drinks.

Milk does a body good, or so we thought, but it also contains a lot of calories.  Milk contains vital nutrients like calcium, protein, vitamin D, and vitamin A that you won’t find in other beverages.  The USDA recommends that you get three servings of dairy every day, but those don’t have to come from drinking milk.  If you do reach for the cow juice, choosing low-fat milks can help you save hundreds of calories each day.

So what is the ideal beverage to quench your thirst?  It’s the colorless, odorless, and tasteless refresher that makes up over half of our body mass: Water.  There is no reason that you should need to supplement your water with anything else if eating a balanced diet.

- Rachel