If your sport has specific body comp targets that you need to reach but you find you are struggling to manage or maintain them, you might look to what you are eating and the portion sizes to see what is contributing extra kilojoules and still be left scratching you head as to why you aren’t at your target.
There are times when you will consume energy contributing beverages like Powerade and Protein shakes with a purpose and it will be appropriate to support your training and energy demands. Outside of this, having smoothies, milkshakes, soft drinks or juices with a meal need to be considered like a second meal or snack in itself.
Some simple modifications to beverage intake including switching from full cream milk to skim milk in your coffee, eating fruit rather than drinking juice, regular size coffees in place of a large, limited soft drinks, decreasing sugar in coffee and tea and drinking plenty of water to avoid dehydration can all save a few extra empty kilojoules.
1. Soft drink
While soft drink has no fat in it, its kilojoule content is purely due to its amount of sugar, one 375ml has nine teaspoons of sugar! Just one can of soft drink on top of your recommended daily kilojoule intake each day for a year and it can contribute to 6kg of annual weight gain purely from soft drink.
2. Added sugar to coffee and tea
This can vary depending on how much sugar you add and how often. If you add two sugars to your tea and coffee it adds 130kJ, however, if you have say, six cups a day that contributes an extra 780kJ. Unfortunately, this also includes honey and all types of sugar.
The substance of alcohol itself contributes 290kJ per standard drink, then adding soft drink mixers can add further kilojoules. Like anything you need to consider consuming in moderation for a number of reasons, excess kilojoules is just one of these.
Juice is a concentrated form of fruit, half a cup (125ml) of juice is equivalent energy to one piece of fruit, having a 450ml bottle would be the same as eating 4 pieces of fruit at once, without as much filling fibre. This includes freshly squeezed juices, if you are having fresh juice try to also include some vegetables.
5. Full cream milk
While still full of nutrients and calcium, full cream milk has double the fat and saturated fat content of light milk and more than 75% of that in skim milk, so you are consuming a lot more energy per ml of volume as a comparison. Further to this low fat and skim milk actually has more protein and calcium than full cream milk the fat is pulled out and everything is concentrated, nothing added.
6. Sports drinks
Sports drinks are appropriate to give much needed fuel and electrolytes during competition and solid training for a strong, efficient session. However, drinking sports drinks as a beverage with a meal or during times when activity or intensity is low may mean that additional energy is not used. If training is light or less than an hour, then water is the best for rehydration or an electrolyte option if conditions are humid.
7. Commercial smoothies and juice bars
The main thing to be cautious of with these drinks is the serve size. If they are 98% fat free that means they have 2g fat per 100ml, and some of the cups hold up to 600ml so you’re actually consuming 12g of fat and around 40-60g of carbohydrates. Potentially an option if you have a very high energy budget but to be considered as a meal replacer.
8. Up sizing
Getting a bigger size may be more economical but it’s actually costing you kilojoules. Whether it is the next size coffee, soft drink or milkshake the increase in volume can add an extra 250 to 500kJ.
The majority of fluid intake should be from water, however mix it up occasionally by adding mint, slices of lemon or lime to water to add flavour if need be.