Are Your Liquid Calories Making You Gain Weight?

by Suzanne Hiscock

When you look at your diet, do you only look at the food you’re eating? Are you scratching your head wondering why you’ve been gaining weight when you’re so sure you’ve been eating better?

One thing you may need to look into is how many calories you’re drinking.  No matter how healthy you think milk or juice is, it doesn’t mean you can drink them all day long.  Add in soda, alcoholic drinks, sports drinks or specialty coffees and you may be drinking yourself fat.

Take a long, hard look at the calories you drink and see where you can whittle down the calories.  It could make a big difference in your weight loss plan!

Here are six ways you can reduce liquid calories: Replace sodas and sports drink with water. Water has ZERO calories, not to mention lots of other benefits.  Unless you’re doing some hard-core cardio, you don’t need the calories from a sports drink. Sodas are basically sugar water—and even though diet sodas have zero calories, they could trick your brain into thinking you’re eating sugar—and then you get cravings when the sugar rush doesn’t happen.  Also, when you drink zero calorie sodas, you could find yourself thinking, “Well, I drank diet soda, so can eat more”—and that creates bad eating habits.

And I don’t know about you, but I get headaches from artificial sweeteners.  Who needs that?

See: Boost Your Workouts With This Zero-Calorie Nutrient

Go for low fat milk. Save some extra calories by going for low fat milk instead of full fat milk. 1 cup of whole milk is 145 calories; 1 cup of skim milk is around 90 calories.  (If you can’t stand skim milk, here’s a little trick: move from 3.25% whole milk down to 2% milk.  When you get used to 2%, move down to 1%.  Then move down again to skim milk when you get used to 1%.)

See: Healthy Breakfast Smoothies

Read labels and measure your serving size. A “glass” of juice doesn’t mean any old glass sitting in your cupboard.  1 cup of orange juice is 110 calories—that’s 8oz.  If you’re pouring your juice into a tall glass, you may drinking 16oz of OJ.  That’s 220 calories—almost half a meal!

See: How to Make Sense of Food Labels

Eat the fruit instead of drinking the juice. Not only will you get the same nutrients, but you’ll feel full longer because of the fiber found in fruit.

See: Top 5 Healthy Fruits to Eat for Weight Loss

Limit specialty coffees or dump them all together. A Starbucks Caramel Brulee Frappuccino® Blended Coffee - with whip cream—weighs in at a whopping 430 calories. Seriously. Go for regular coffee with low fat milk and save the “specialty” coffee for a “special” occasion.  Trust me, it’ll be that much more tasty.  (And, hey, you can buy some new exercise equipment with all the money you’ll be saving!)

Same with alcohol—limit it or dump it all together. Putting aside the fact that alcohol interferes with fat loss, it can seriously impede your judgement and make you eat even more. But, if you’re going to drink alcohol, you’re better of with wine or straight alcohol.  That pina colada you like to drink?  One small pina colada is around 245 calories - that’s for a 4.5 oz cocktail.  Be honest now: if you’re making homemade pina coladas, do you keep make ‘em that small?  Do you limit yourself to one?  (Oh, and a “glass” of wine usually means a serving of 3.5oz (or 4oz tops), not that huge wine glass you may be using!)

See: Which Alcoholic Drink is Best When You’re Dieting?

Not only can liquid calories make you gain weight, just like calories from food, they don’t make you feel full for long either.  So, you end up eating more calories in addition to what you’ve already had to drink.  You also don’t get that psychological “I’ve had some food” feeling you get from the smell of food and the act of chewing.

See: 12 Super Foods to Add to your Diet

Track the calories you drink in a week and see where you can reduce those unnecessary liquid calories.

Tools You Need Online Calorie Counter FitWatch Fitness Tracker & Calorie Counter Recipe Analyzer

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About the Author

Suzanne Hiscock is a PN L2 Certified Master Coach, ACE-certified Health Coach, as well as an ACE-certified Fitness Nutrition Specialist. For over 20 years, she's been helping people lose weight and get fit through her website,

And she’s really TRULY SORRY ABOUT THAT. You see, she didn’t realize she was contributing to diet culture; she just wanted to help people feel better. But losing weight isn’t the way to do it. She’s on a mission to change all that with an anti-diet approach. So, pardon the dust on the floor as the website gets revamped.