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Drinks and Calorie Counting

With the holidays fast approaching do I need to worry as much about “liquid” calories as food calories when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight?


Many of us forget about the calories in our daily liquids. Celebrations often mean higher calorie drinks like eggnog, pop, alcohol and fancy cocktails.

One cup (250 mL) of eggnog can contain 160 to 290 calories, depending on the brand. If you’re adding a shot of spirits you can add on approximately 60 calories more per drink. Don’t be fooled by the fat free versions either.  A fat-free eggnog can have more calories than the regular eggnog because the fat is replaced with more sugar.  Look at the nutrition facts panel on the carton and choose the brand lower in calories and fat.  Pay special attention to the serving size. Some brands base the nutrition information on a half cup (125mL) serving instead of a cup (250mL).  While high in calories eggnog is a good source of protein, calcium, and vitamin D.  A tasty lower calorie choice option to traditional eggnog is soynog (soy beverage). It has only 120 calories per cup (250mL).

Limit regular pop and juices, as they have extra unwanted calories. Pop doesn’t have any nutritional value and the calories all come from sugar.  Juices are a good source of vitamin C but have a high sugar content.  Look for a juice that is 100% juice. A serving of juice according to Canada’s Food Guide is one half cup (125 mL).  You will get more nutrients if you choose to eat the actual fruit instead of the juice.

 Liquid calories are not limited to the holidays. On average, Canadians drink 95.2 liters of sugary soft drinks per person each year (Statistics Canada 2005).  That is close to 270 cans (355ml of pop) each and an extra 43000 calories!  This can result in a 12 pound weight gain over one year.

If you are used to drinking three cans of soft drinks each day you can easily cut 450 calories by switching to water and flavoured waters, carbonated sparkling waters, and diet pop.

Hard liquor, beer, wine and liqueurs add extra calories to your eating plan. You can count  an extra 100 to 260 calories per alcoholic drink.  If you drink alcohol limit your intake to 1 to2 drinks per day.  One drink is equal to either 12 ounces beer, 5 ounces wine, 3 ounces fortified wine (port or sherry) or 1.5 ounces of hard liquor.  To help control calories drink water, with an orange slice and cranberries for added flavour between alcoholic drinks.

Filling up on liquid calories instead of food calories means your body is not getting the valuable nutrients and fibre found in foods. Liquids also don’t fill you up and you may gain weight because you are eating more calories.  Choose your calories wisely and make daily physical activity part of your daily routine to help you to stay at a healthy body weight. Enjoy your holidays!

Written by Kelly Fleming RD as published in the Windsor Star, December 2007.


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