5 Soda Alternatives

Thirsty? Here's what you need to consider before reaching for a soft drink.

These beverages have zero nutritional value, but each 12-ounce serving of regular soda contains about 150 calories — virtually all of it sugar. (That’s equivalent to nine packets of sugar!) And studies show that soda calories don’t fill you up the way food does, so you end up consuming more calories throughout the day than you would if you got those calories from something solid.

If you usually drink three cans of soda a day — not unusual if you drink soda more out of habit or convenience than desire — you can easily cut an impressive 450 calories by switching to another beverage, such as:

1. Water. It has zero calories and quenches thirst better than sugary drinks. If you drink bottled water, though, beware of flavored brands, which can have as many calories as soft drinks. Check the label.

2. Diet drinks. Choose those with noncaloric sweeteners.

3. Sparkling water. Choose plain water or sugar-free, fruit-flavored varieties.

4. Iced tea. Make your own by steeping two tea bags in a tall glass of cold water. If you drink bottled iced tea, check to be sure it’s sugar-free and calorie-free.

5. Lemonade. Making your own with fresh lemon juice and sweetening it with a sugar substitute cuts out the calories, saving more than 100 calories compared with store-bought lemonade.

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