Don’t Drink Your Calories: Why Sugary Beverages Are Harmful to Your Body
As a personal trainer, I help people become stronger every day. But being healthy also means having a healthy diet. Here’s why I think cutting back on sugary beverages is important.
I went to St. George a few weeks ago to participate in the Spring Tour de St. George. On the way home, we stopped at a coffee shop and I got a blended vanilla drink. It tasted so good after I biked 55 miles the day before, then hiked 3 miles, and then went climbing right before we left.
So, what’s wrong with a sugar bomb after all the calories I’d burned? Here’s what’s wrong with it: I didn’t feel well for the next 24 hours. My little drink had 400 calories and 57 grams of sugar—that’s 25% of my daily calories and twice the amount of sugar I should have in an entire day. I refused to even put that in myfitnesspal for the day—I didn’t want it on record that I consumed that beverage.
Related: Best and Worst Drinks for Kids
Why Sugar Is Harmful
I recently went to a seminar by Dr. Robert Lustig titled, “Is Sugar Toxic and Hazardous to your Health?” He is the author of Fat Chance: Beating the Odds against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease, which I’m currently reading. You can watch his lecture on YouTube, Sugar: The Bitter Truth.
And the answer is yes: Sugar is toxic and hazardous to your health. Consuming too much sugar increases the risk of heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and inflammation. It can also affect the appearance of your skin, drain your energy, and could harm your teeth. Need more reasons? It can affect your mood, cause joint pain, cause acne, and may lead to diabetes.
How to Cut Back on Sugary Beverages
- Prepare mentally: Sugar (including sugary beverages) can be addictive, so it’s good to know that you may experience withdrawals when you quit. Luckily, this will only last a few days.
- Go cold turkey: It may not be pleasant, but weaning off soda could drag out the inevitable or affect your resolve. So pick a day where you plan to quit altogether and stick to it.
- Find a replacement: Swap soda, energy drinks, or juice for water or have carbonated water with a splash or lemon or lime. Drink your coffee black or use Stevia as a natural sweetener.
- Set a goal: It’s okay to start small and tell yourself that you won’t have soda for three days. Before you know it, you’ll be without it for a week.
Related: 5 Ways to Cut Back on Added Sugars
Drinking one can of soda a day equals 39 pounds a year, which is why it's linked to obesity. So cutting back or quitting altogether could decrease your waistline, improve your overall health, and may give you a better complexion. Make small changes now, and before you know it, you’ll be reaching for a glass of water rather than a soda.
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