9 Sneaky Signs You Might Be Drinking Too Many Calories

Updated: Feb. 10, 2017

Unless you’re drinking water, beverages can add a lot of sneaky calories to your daily diet. If any of these signs sound familiar, you might be drinking too many calories.


You start each day with a smoothie

You might think they’re a healthy breakfast choice, but the smoothies you buy from your favorite juice shop are almost always packed with unnecessary sugar and fat, which can put you halfway to your daily allotment before 10 a.m. “I always recommend my patients make their own smoothie. That way they can keep it low-calorie,” says Shanna Levine, MD, a primary care physician and clinical instructor of medicine at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. Store-bought smoothies often rack up the sugar content by adding juice on top of fresh fruit, and use fatty bases instead of skim milk or low-fat yogurt, which can all add up to hundreds of calories, she says. Check out these fruit smoothies for a healthy breakfast.

iStock/Andrey Danilovich

You feel thirsty all the time

Believe it or not, drinking too many non-water beverages can do the opposite of quenching your thirst. “Consuming sugary drinks on a regular basis can lead to chronically high blood sugar, which means you may be thirsty all the time, urinate more, and even feel dizzy,” says Dr. Levine. Try adding lemon, lime, or mint to your H20 for sugar-free flavor. Here are non-boring ways to stay hydrated.


You think liquid calories don’t count

“Many of my patients don’t realize that calories are calories, whether they’re in solid or liquid form. People vastly underestimate how many calories they’re getting in their liquids,” says Dr. Levine. Some of the sneakiest culprits are fancy morning drinks like a pumpkin spice latte or frozen coffee, which are typically laden with sugary syrups, full-fat dairy, and even whipped cream, she says, as well as sport drinks packed with sugar and even sodium. On the other hand, these fruit juices have big health benefits.


You’re gaining weight, especially around your belly

If you’re packing on the pounds despite a healthy balanced diet, take a look at what you’re drinking. The average can of soda is 150 calories with the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of sugar, and a glass of cranberry juice is even more, at 200 calories and 12 teaspoons; if you’re having one with each meal, they can really add up. Just one sugary drink a day could lead to a five-pound weight gain in a year, according to information from Harvard, and other studies have shown a link between high sugary drink consumption and obesity. Pay special attention to your midsection—one study in the journal Circulation found that people who regularly drank sugary drinks gained more belly fat than those who rarely did. Belly, or visceral fat, is some of the most dangerous kind because it settles around your organs and increases your risk of diabetes and heart disease. Here’s how to blast belly fat without exercising.


Fancy cocktails are your drink of choice

Your favorite mixed drink might be sabotaging your good time. “One pina colada or mudslide could be the equivalent of eating a burger, depending on the mixer,” says Dr. Levine. “Margarita mix itself can have hundreds of calories, and that’s before adding alcohol.” Stick to wine, beer, or mix liquor with zero calorie club soda, and be mindful of how many you’re having. These are signs you could be binge drinking without even realizing it.


You develop type 2 diabetes

The link between type 2 diabetes and regular consumption of sugary drinks is well documented—one study found that one to two cans a day ups your risk by 26 percent. “There is no set time that it takes to develop type 2 diabetes, but if you drink sugary drinks frequently, you can do damage very quickly,” says Dr. Levine.


You have diarrhea

Diet drinks taste sweet without the sugar, but they can still mess with your body. Artificial sweeteners found in chewing gum and other sugar-free products can cause diarrhea, according to the Mayo Clinic. Here are 12 things that can happen to your body when you stop drinking diet soda.


You’ve been diagnosed with fatty liver disease

Your organs can gain weight too, and that’s pretty much what happens with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD); fat is deposited on your liver, says Dr. Levine. “This is an epidemic we are seeing of people developing NAFLD because of poor food or beverage choices,” she says. Though the disease often has no clear signs, people may sometimes notice these symptoms of fatty liver disease: fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal pain, spider-like blood vessels, yellowing of the skin and eyes, or mental confusion.


Your energy levels yo-yo

“People who drink too many sugary drinks have crashes throughout the day. You get that sugar rush and then feel extremely fatigued afterward,” says Dr. Levine. Water should be what you reach for most, she says.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest