Fizzy drinks, fruit juice, energy drinks, flavoured lattes, or plain old sugary tea and coffee; drink these regularly and don't be too surprised if you are carrying excess weight. Looking for a painless way to shrink your muffin top? Ditch the liquid calories and start drinking zero energy water (that's the stuff that comes free out of the tap).
Several large scientific studies have demonstrated a correlation between the dramatic rise in the consumption of sugar sweetened drinks and the obesity epidemic. Although sugary drinks are not the only reason you are overweight, once you cut them out you lose weight because you take in fewer calories.
Eat sugar in solid form as jelly beans and you are likely to reduce food intake later, but drink liquid sugar and you do not compensate by eating less. Given that you may be glugging several sodas every day, now is the time to stop the pop.
But what about pure fruit juice, surely that must be okay? Sorry, but no. Although it is a natural fruit product, fruit juice contains as much sugar as fizzy drinks. No one is denying you fresh fruit but eat it whole, preferably including the skin if it is edible. It is harder to eat a fresh apple replete with fibre than downing a large juice which may contain several fruits.
Even energy drinks, which claim to promote weight loss, and improve stamina, athletic performance and concentration, contain between six and twelve teaspoons of sugar per can. The high sugar content makes them ineffective at helping you lose weight and are likely to make you gain weight.
But worst of the bunch are flavoured lattes or chocolate drinks topped with whipped cream. Not only are they high in sugar, they are also loaded with fat. These liquid desserts can contain up to 600 kcal. You would be better off having a solid dessert, as it is more likely to blunt your appetite.
Diet drinks rather than regular varieties sound like a great idea, but are they really? Although some human studies suggest that sugar substitutes help with short term weight loss, an equal number suggest they don't. They are at least 200 times as sweet as sugar, and that is a potent stimulus for a sweet tooth. If artificial sweeteners increase your cravings for sweet food, they become counterproductive. The calories they take out of your diet are apt to sneak back in later when you want a larger or sweeter dessert to feel satisfied.
Alcohol contains calories and no other nutrients. A large 250ml glass of red wine or a pint of beer contains about 170 kcals. Drink more than one a day and the calories soon add up.
Sugary mixers like cola, tonic, orange juice, lemonade or cordial, combined with alcohol add to the energy content of your drink, and increase palatability making you less conscious of how much you are drinking.
Not only is alcohol calorific - particularly if sweetened - it also inhibits fat breakdown, induces fat storage, stimulates your appetite and loosens inhibitions. What may be hard to resist when sober may be nigh on impossible when drunk. Regular drinking sessions, bar snacks and the statutory after pub curry can scupper any chance of weight loss.
Wean yourself off sugar in tea and coffee, ditch the soft drinks including the diet variety, avoid creamy chocolate or coffee drinks, limit alcohol and watch your weight drop, even without making any changes to what you eat.
Once you've mastered the art of drinking water, you are ready to follow the diet I recommend in my lifestyle diet book Can I Have Chips? fill up, lose weight, feel great. Combine this easy to follow slimming plan with your water habit and you are sure to look great on the beach this summer.