Those thirst-quenching drinks may have more kilojoules than you think. Dietitian Brooke Longfield looks at how they impact your weight.
It seems harmless at the time — a kick-starting morning coffee, then a refreshing juice with lunch, and perhaps a pre-dinner glass of wine.
But the reality is you are sipping down thousands of extra kilojoules, without even realising it. If you’ve been gradually gaining weight and can’t seem to work out why, you might want to rethink your drink.
Soft drinks, alcohol and cordial are what dietitians refer to as ‘empty calories’ because they provide little to no nutrients such as fibre, vitamins and minerals, but are high in kilojoules (calories).
Consider this: a glass of orange juice has 300kJ (72cal) and only 0.5g of fibre. We may think it’s a healthy choice because it’s made with oranges. By comparison though, a whole fresh orange has only 220kJ (53cal) and five times more fibre. So, drinking just one glass of orange juice is equivalent to gulping down around five oranges — with all the kilojoules. Snacking on the whole piece of fruit is far healthier. It takes time to peel and eat, and it also has satisfying fibre. This lets your body know that you’re full.
Alcohol is another big offender, and most people don’t realise just how calorific it is. A fruity cocktail can have as many kilojoules as a slice of takeaway pizza! Three or four drinks on a night out can easily equal the kilojoules of a hearty meal.
When was the last time you had a drink? If you can’t remember, it was probably while you were distracted by something, which makes it harder to keep track of how much you’re guzzling.
This can happen when you’re sipping on a takeaway smoothie while strolling around the shops, or swigging a bottle of soft drink while watching a sporting match. Even drinking cups of sweet tea while sitting in front of the TV is a form of distracted drinking.
It’s easy to drink too much of something when it’s sweet. Rarely do you notice that a modest-sized bottle of juice is often more than a single serve, or that a large takeaway smoothie is made with around half-a-litre of milk — far more than what you would drink in a glass at home.
Regular iced coffee = 1613kJ (386cal), 40g sugar
375ml can soft drink = 675kJ (161cal), 39.8g sugar
500ml bottle orange juice = 765kJ (185cal), 41.5g sugar