How to eat 278 fewer calories a day

February 25, 2008

Fruit vs. fruit juiceDrink more water and eat fruit. Honest, these two small changes will make a huge difference to your caloric intake if you’re like most North Americans.

Late in 2007, a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine revealed that since 1971, overall energy intake from sweetened beverages increased 135 per cent.

This change represents a 278 total calorie increase per person per day. If you do the math, that’s enough extra calories to result in a 25 lb. weight gain over the course of a year.

Although pop and energy drinks are often cited as one of the insidious causes of obesity, we need to remember that healthy-hailed fruit juices can be high in calories, too.

In fact, my colleague Amy Snider, a professional home economist who specializes in nutrition, recommends that we reevaluate our opinions about fruit juice: “Canada’s Food Guide makes the recommendation to ‘have vegetables and fruit more often than juice’,” points out Amy.

“There are scores of beverage products currently marketed that claim to contain superfruit-enhanced nutritional benefits. However, calorie-for-calorie, these beverages can’t match the nutritional benefits of eating real fruit. This is because whole fruits and vegetables contain more fiber and are more filling while containing fewer calories ounce for ounce. Likewise, the carbohydrates consumed while eating fruit are broken down less quickly than those from juice; helping to prevent blood sugar spikes.

“There’s also a school of thought that would say that eating fruit in its natural form should increase the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that you consume. Research is still working to identify all of the healthful components in plant foods and studies are still determining the bioavailability of nutritious plant compounds when processed into products such as juice or added as supplements into other products but why not hedge your bets?

“In my opinion, drinking juice can be a refreshing way to gain additional nutrients but should not replace whole fruit in our diets or water as our primary beverage source.”

This is great advice from Amy especially, as so-called “healthy” versions of products like Pepsi are launched and marketed to us.