I am deep in my training for Romaniacs. I have two primary objectives, I want to increase my cardio endurance and lose a few pounds. Obviously I am spending time on the motorcycle when I can, but I am not doing any extreme or hard enduro training. For the average rider like me, Romaniacs will be all about endurance. My bicycle is my current training partner.
To accomplish my other objective, losing a bit of weight, I am paying close attention to nutrition and food in general. My weight has been steady over the last six years or so. But I am carrying a few pounds more than I really need, so I would like to shed a few. Maintaining weight does not come by accident.
Here is one rule I practice; I try think about every single thing I eat. It doesn’t seem like much, but it is a simple trick that helps. If I go through the motions to really give a second of thought to everything I buy and consume, it tends to help keep me on track. Smart grocery shopping really helps.
Recently I was thinking along the same lines about what I drink. Drinking seems almost like an afterthought. Heck, I drink some water and a few other things and that is about all there is to it, right? But when you take a look at the world around you, the general trend towards weight gain is staggering. Drinking calories is one of the biggest culprits to our general girth.
I don’t mean to pick on anyone, but a quick trip to the Wal-Mart brings my point to life. Okay, so some people eat too much. What more is there to it? Take a closer look around. It isn’t just what people eat, it is what they drink.
Let’s say you wanted to consume an extra 1,000 calories per day. If you were eating home cooked fare, it would take at least an extra full meal per day to get those calories. To do that every single day of the week would take a deliberate effort.
But if you wanted to drink those calories, it is the easiest thing to do. Millions around you do it every day. 300 calorie drinks are everywhere. Many masquerade as innocent juices. When you start looking at the nutrition statistics for fast food milkshakes and the like, 1,000 calories goes down faster than you can imagine. Drinking your calories, that is how to swallow half a day’s worth of carbs without even realizing it.
I once read a fitness article where the writer claimed that she only drank two things; water and green tea. Seems like a reasonable idea to me. When I sat down to actually list all the different things I drink, I was surprised how large the list became. I drink a wider variety of beverages than I would have originally guessed.
Hidden Calorie Hogs
Let’s jump back a 20 years ago. The coffee hut craze was still alive and well in the northwest. Starbucks coffee company was full steam ahead as it became a nationwide brand. Who would have ever thought they would be known as much for their ultra-high calorie blended drinks as for their coffee? Whenever I am traveling, I usually drop in the morning for a tall Pike Place. It always amazes me to watch both adults and children lined up for whipped cream topped coffee milkshakes to start their day.
Starbucks Diet Killers
The Soda Soap Box
Let’s face it, a significant blame for the fattening of the world is soda. Unlike everything on the above lists, I do drink a Coca-Cola occasionally. I enjoy it and I don’t figure I am ever going to completely eliminate something I like. I make a very deliberate effort to use it sparingly.
As for diet soda, it may actually be worse than regular soda. There are a wide variety of studies that come to the same conclusion; diet soda is bad. Drinking diet soda does not contribute to weight loss. The exact reasons are still coming to light, but they focus primarily on the artificial sweeteners and preservatives that are unique to diet drinks.
Tip- I never drink a soda, or any sugar drink with a meal. When eating out, if I happen to choose one of those meals that come with a drink, I typically just fill it with club soda and then add just a splash of lemonade from the fountain. One of my bar favorites is club soda with a splash of OJ and a splash of cranberry.
Super Fruits By The Glass
It is astonishing how may calories can be packed into a glass of pure fruit juice. I am not going to call these out as either good or bad. But as pure fruit, it might be easy to assume that your favorite fruit smoothie is a not consequence drink. The same goes for the typical yogurt smoothie. Both feature good nutrition but are packed full of calories also. Be extra careful of the fact that these types of drinks often come in larger than typical portions.
Jamba Juice Citrus Bliss 24oz, – 360 calories
Lala Strawberry Yogurt Smoothie 8oz, – 180 Calories
Liquid Gold In The Cup
When we talk about things that are healthy to drink, there are no real surprises. The benefits of these drinks have been known for some time. But it is still worth a look to review some options. These also comprise the list of things I typically drink, except for sports drinks that I use while racing.
Green Tea – It is full of a rich concentration of flavonoids and polyphenols, natural antioxidants. All of these are things that fight disease and contribute to health.
Low Fat Milk – It does a body good. It is a lean source of protein as well as vitamins and minerals. I often think of it as just a kid’s drink, so I make a point to eat cold cereal once or twice a week for my milk ration.
Coffee – The daily java is becoming wider recognized for potential health benefits that include; lower mortality rates, lower cancer risk, lower risk of heart disease, improved cardiovascular health. Coffee is high in antioxidants also, even higher than tea. It is the number one source for of antioxidants for Americans.
Water – Not very glamorous here, but it is the most important thing we drink. I have a two stage under sink water filter installed in my kitchen. In the filter I run one charcoal filter and one Cyst filter, that covers all the possible contaminates. I always keep two gallons cold in the refrigerator. As a cold sink, the gallons also cut down on the refrigerator energy consumption. I always keep a bottle in the door of the van right where I can reach it. With plenty of filtered water at hand, I never have to buy bottled water.
Fruit Juices – Many fruit juices such as orange and cranberry are full of nutrients and some unique benefits. The challenge is the sugar, 12oz of orange juice will cost you 140 calories, roughly the same as a Coke.
Coconut Water – Some refer to it as mother nature’s sports drink. It is low in calories and very high in potassium. It is great for hydration and easy to digest. Unfortunately, it is also one of the more expensive beverages out there. I use it regularly and love it. It is a great option over traditional sports drinks.
One thing we have not touched on is caffeine consumption. It is a big and complex subject, too much to address here. Yes, I have some caffeine everyday. As with everything else, I try to keep my intake modest; one cup of coffee and one of either tea or soda. I also steer clear of any stimulants beyond mid afternoon to avoid sleep disturbance.
It has long been thought that it contributed to dehydration in athletes. But more recent findings indicate the moderate and regular use do not have a significant impact on hydration. Caffeine does provide short term physical and mental benefits to performance. Use with care.