“Drink up”

With as many food choices as we have, and how often we hear about eating well, eating clean and eating for nutrition, it can forgotten that what we drink is just as important.

A specialty coffee drink can have half a day’s worth of calories.
Fruit juices have a ton of added sugar.
A popular brand of soda can be used to clean a carburetor.

Sound familiar? Just like with food, there are beverage choices one can make that offer benefits and those that don’t make the cut.

No matter if you’re an athlete, a couch potato or somewhere in between, my five favorite beverages are good choices for all.

Water
The most important beverage you can put in your body is water. In addition to staying hydrated for improved athletic performance, water has added benefits including burning extra calories (if you drink it really cold), keeping your skin hydrated and healthy-looking, and preventing headaches. I firmly believe you can’t drink too much so fill up a bottle, keep it with you and stay hydrated all day. If you like, add a little flavor with Crystal Light or similar options that are low in calories.

Lindsay runs on Dunkin.

Lindsay runs on Dunkin.

Coffee
In addition to it being part of a morning ritual for many, coffee has quite a few proven health benefits. It has been shown to lower risk of certain diseases, like type II diabetes. Coffee beans are also packed with antioxidants and nutrients. That being said, keep your intake in moderation. A small amount of caffeine is good for boosting metabolism and athletic performance but too much will leave you feeling shaky and can lead to an energy crash. Also, avoid the caloric nightmare that comes with fancy, supped-up coffee shop delights. Stick to black coffee (just 2 calories a cup) or, if you must add flavoring, limit yourself to a tbsp. of a sugar-free variety.

Milk (Regular or Chocolate)
Protein for recovery, calcium for healthy bones. Milk is a no-brainer for athletes and non-athletes alike. Whenever possible, choose low fat and calcium fortified options. For those who don’t do well with dairy, soy varieties are great as well.

Green Tea
Antioxidants found in green tea extract have been shown to have a ton of benefits. They increase the body’s ability to burn fat as fuel and may prevent certain types of cancer. Also, green tea is hydrating and provides a little bit of caffeine that can help raise metabolism.

A nice day, kickball with friends & a beer from a local brewery - awesome.

A nice day, kickball with friends & a beer from a local brewery – awesome.

Beer and/or Wine
I typically avoid drinking my calories but this is where I make an exception. Sometimes, it’s really nice to enjoy a cold beer or glass (okay, sometimes more) of wine. If you like either, or both, there’s no reason you should feel like you can’t have them. Why? Why not! You’re human. You work hard. Because, like anything else, they’re fine to enjoy in moderation. True, alcohol is often forbidden from most “diet” plans thanks to its dehydration properties, empty calories and tendency to lead to overeating. But as long as you’re not overdoing it, don’t feel this needs to be cut out from your lifestyle. You can always choose a light or ultra-light beer to keep calories in check. Going with red instead of white or fruity wine packs in some healthy antioxidants. Raise your glass & don’t feel like you can’t join your friends for happy hour once in awhile!

What’s usually found in your glass? Post a comment or Tweet me, @runlikeagirl311.

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