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Nutrition – What To Drink?

In this series of articles we’re looking at nutrition. So far we’ve talked mainly about desserts, meat and veggies….which are the three components of most meals.

As we wrap up our focus on ‘what to eat’, we’re going to examine what we should be drinking. If it’s true that “we are what we eat, from our heads to our feet” then we can also accurately claim that we are what we drink.

Make no mistake about it, it is entirely possible to get fat by simply consuming too many fattening drinks. Even if we closely watch what we eat, we can still do some severe damage to our scale if we don’t watch what we drink.

Check out the facts on the following drinks:
* Root Beer 12 oz. can = 180 calories
* Starbucks Caramel Mocha Whip 16 oz. = 470 calories
* Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Creme Whip 16 oz. = 500 calories
* Coca-Cola 32 oz. (fast food size cup) = 310 calories
* Orange Juice 10 oz. = 140 calories
* PowerAde 21 oz. = 140 calories
* Skim Milk 8 oz. = 80 calories
* Water any size serving = 0 calories

The issue many of us have is that we regularly consume massive quantities of regular soda. The fast food chains and convenience stores haven’t exactly helped us in this area, either: the ‘small’ and ‘regular’ sizes have been removed from many menus only to be replaced with ‘SuperSize’ and ‘Big Gulp’ sizes. (Whatever happened to the regular ‘gulp’ size, anyway?) We’ve even seen some gas stations selling a super-tanker 44 oz. size soda, which packs at least 400 calories!

The important thing to note is that, from the above list, only skim milk gives us the protein and calcium we need without attaching too many calories. Yes, the Starbucks Caramel Mocha Whip has 13 grams of protein, but at a cost of 470 calories (this is about 25% of the TOTAL calories a typical woman should have in one day!).

Now in comparison let’s look at a double-serving of milk (16 oz.) so that it will be the same as the Starbucks serving size: that same amount of skim milk as 16 grams of protein (vs. 13 for the coffee) and only 160 calories.

Calcium is one of the nutrients most likely to be lacking in the American diet. The calcium found in milk helps build and maintain strong bones and teeth. This mineral also plays an important role in nerve function, muscle contraction and blood clotting. Each 8-ounce glass of milk provides 300 mg or 30% of the Daily Value (or recommended intake).

The vitamin D found in milk helps promote the absorption of calcium and enhances bone mineralization. Milk is one of the few dietary sources of vitamin D. Each 8-ounce serving of milk provides about 25% of the Daily Value.

Lowfat and fat free milk have the same nutrients as whole milk with little or no fat. The American Heart Association endorses fat free and lowfat milk to reduce fat in your diet, but still get nutrients you need every day.

About three-fourths of Americans (or about 75%) do not get enough calcium in their diets. Nine out of 10 women and 7 out of 10 men fall short of current calcium recommendations.

Many studies suggest that fat free or lowfat milk, as part of a lowfat diet, may help reduce the risk of hypertension. Hypertension or high blood pressure afflicts one in four Americans and is the leading cause of heart disease and stroke. The American Heart Association recommends fat free and lowfat milk.

Chocolate milk is just as healthy of a drink as white milk. Lowfat and fat free chocolate milk packs in the same amount of calcium and nutrients as white milk, making it a great tasting way to grow strong, healthy bones.

Drinking milk now helps prevent osteoporosis when you get older. Osteoporosis affects 28 million Americans and one in five of those affected is male. Milk helps build strong bones because it’s rich in calcium and vitamin D, which can double the amount of calcium absorbed by your body. You should drink more milk to help prevent osteoporosis

Milk is a great nutrient package of 9 essential vitamins and minerals, including calcium, vitamins A, D and B12, protein, potassium, riboflavin, niacin (includes niacin equivalent) and phosphorus. Milk provides good nutrition for your body.

The choice is clear: choose skim milk and water as your beverages of choice and watch the pounds drop off. At only about 13 cents per serving ($2 per gallon), milk makes an economical choice as well.

We’ll see you at the dairy case!

Tracie Johanson is the founder of Pick Up The Pace, a 30-minute exercise studio for women focusing on fitness, health and nutrition for maximum weight loss. Please visit for more information.