Kilojoules in Soft Drinks/Beverages

The secret diet enemy – kilojoules in soft drinks

So, you’ve done all the research and set yourself a wellness goal, be it losing, gaining or maintaining weight. You’ve put together a kilojoule-controlled eating plan for yourself, and started a sustainable exercise programme. So far, you’re doing everything right.

But now weeks have gone by, and no matter how much you control your kilojoule intake, and how many kilometres you’re racking up on the treadmill, you’re not seeing any results. You’re frustrated, and a heartbeat away from ordering that pizza you’re so desperately craving. But before you throw in the towel once and for all, consider this – have you taken into account the kilojoules you’re consuming not just through food, but through drink as well?

When embarking on a kilojoule-controlled eating plan, most people concentrate only on their food intake, forgetting completely about the drinks they consume throughout the day as well. With the kilojoules contained in drinks such as alcohol, fizzy drinks, flavoured coffees, iced teas, energy drinks, sports drinks and more, the average person can consume up to 3000 kilojoules a day, simply through drinking fluids. That’s almost a third of one’s recommended daily kilojoule intake! No wonder wellness goals can be so hard to achieve, with this silent enemy undoing so much hard work with every sip.

With the human body made up of 50 – 75% water, staying hydrated throughout the day is of paramount importance. But while all fluids consumed in a day, from tap water to cooldrinks, count as part of one’s fluid intake, some fluids are always better than others, both in terms of nutritional value and hydrating properties.

Water – the kilojoule counter’s friend

It’s Mother Nature’s gift to us, and it’s the perfect way to stay completely hydrated throughout the day. With zero kilojoules, sugar, chemicals or fat, water is also a must-have on every weight-loss eating plan. Studies recommend that adults consume between 1.5 and 2 litres of water every day for optimal hydration – and there’s nothing better for quenching thirst after a tough workout. Sparkling water and soda water are also zero-kilojoule options – however these can contain traces of sodium which you may want to avoid if you have health concerns such as high blood pressure and heart disease.

If you’re not a fan of water, but still want to restrict your kilojoule intake, try this handy trick – add slices of your favourite fruit and herbs such as basil or mint to iced water, and make a delicious, cost-effective zero-kilojoule drink that’s perfect for summer days!

Milk – the perfect addition to a low-kilojoule diet

Made up of protein, calcium and 90% water, milk is a healthy, low-kilojoule fluid choice, provided one sticks to the low fat or skim varieties:

  • 250ml full cream milk – 643kj
  • 250ml low fat milk – 520kj
  • 250ml fat-free/skim milk – 365kj

Remember, however, that milk is still a carbohydrate, so take this into account when setting out the food groups and portion sizes you wish to make part of your kilojoule-controlled eating plan.

Fruit juice – more kilojoules than you might think!

Although it may seem a healthy option, fruit juice can quickly add to your kilojoule count without you even realizing it. While natural fruit juices do contain valuable nutrients, they have almost the same sugar and kilojoule content as regular fizzy drinks, and should only be enjoyed in limited quantities.

  • 340ml fruit juice – 478kj
  • 340ml sparkling fruit juice – 762kj

If you must drink fruit juice, limit your intake to 125ml, and dilute it with water for optimum benefits. Similarly, cordials such as lime or passion fruit are also high in sugar and kilojoules, and should be consumed sparingly. And beware fruit smoothies – these contain almost the same amount of kilojoules as a full meal, and could easily push you over your recommended daily kilojoule allowance. To offset this, rather make the fruit smoothie your actual meal (such as a breakfast or lunch) – this will help you stick to your eating plan without picking up any extra kilojoules along the way.

Important tip: Having fruit in juiced form also reduces your daily fibre intake – so if you like fruit, rather eat it whole, and reap all the nutritional benefits while staying fuller for longer.

Tea and coffee – the kilojoule-free surprise

High in antioxidants and low in kilojoules, tea and coffee can actually be beneficial to a kilojoule-controlled eating plan, rather than the enemy most people think. Incorporating these into your diet can help you meet your fluid needs in a healthy, tasty way, even when adding milk and sugar:

  • 340ml coffee/tea with 2 tsp sugar and low fat milk – 174kj

Of course, tea, and particularly coffee, does contain caffeine, which can lead to an increase in your heart rate and blood pressure if consumed in large quantities. Keep your intake to a maximum of 2 – 3 cups per day in order to avoid adverse health effects, and limit your added sugar to 2tsp a day.

Flavoured coffees, chai teas, full fat lattes and syrup coffees are also to be avoided, as they are laden with kilojoules and sugar. If ordering from a coffee bar, stick to skinny (fat-free) and Americano (plain filter coffee) drinks.

Fizzy drinks – just say no!

It goes without saying that fizzy cooldrinks are a no-no, particularly to those on a weight-loss plan. Just one kilojoule-laden can of cooldrink can contain 10tsp of sugar – meaning that if you have one fizzy drink a day, you’ll have consumed 18kg of extra sugar in one year!

Sugar-sweetened drinks are the devil when it comes to kilojoule-controlled eating plans, and should be avoided at all costs:

  • 340ml fizzy cola or lemonade – 585kj
  • 340ml fizzy orange – 714kj
  • 250ml tonic water – 375kj

And while ‘diet’ fizzy drinks are more beneficial in terms of kilojoule content, containing just 55 – 60 kilojoules a can, these drinks can contain artificial sweeteners and chemicals, making them an unhealthy addition to your eating plan. Rather stick to natural, healthy fluids, and avoid fizzy cooldrinks as much as possible, both for the benefit of your waistline and your health. The one exception here is when mixing fizzy drinks with spiritsdiet cooldrinks are always preferable to regular; just remember to watch your portion control when on an evening out.

Sports and energy drinks – full to the brim with kilojoules

Here’s your tip for the day: just because something says ‘sport’ or ‘energy’ on it, doesn’t automatically make it healthy! Sports drinks are generally 5 – 10% sugar, while energy drinks contain caffeine, guarana, and the same amount of sugar as soft drinks. These drinks are high in kilojoules and should be avoided wherever possible. Quench your workout thirst with water instead, or use low-cal fruit juices or mixers to dilute your alcohol with. Otherwise you risk undoing all your hard work with just one bottle of kilojoules.