We’ve been tricked into spending tons of money and time on something that has very few benefits. Drinks. How often is it that you go to a restaurant and there’s a drink menu larger than the food menu? There’s dozens of alcoholic drinks, sodas, lemonades, teas, smoothies, juices, coffees, milk and more. And out of the 30+ options, I get water 90% of the time. I’m always happy with it. It always tastes great. And it’s always free.
Here are two things most people never think of:
- Drinks are one of a restaurant’s highest margin menu items. You pay $1.50 for a soda that costs them 5 cents. Or $2.50 for a juice that costs them 20 cents. Or $8.99 for an alcoholic beverage that costs them 50 cents. Say you get an orange juice for breakfast, soda for lunch and alcoholic beverage for dinner/happy hour. Say you do this five times a week which is fairly common. You’re now spending nearly $3,500 a year on drinks. And if you think you’re not one of these people, it’s important to note that the average person in the US spends around $4,000 per year on drinks. So, you probably are one of these people.
- What benefits are you getting from drinks? Very few. And the downsides outweigh the upsides. See below for more details.
What I Drink
90% of the time, I have water. Water has almost zero downsides… as long as you don’t give yourself water intoxication from excessive consumption. But do you know anyone that’s done that? Probably not. Water is great and it’s not consumed enough by most people. It’s free, helps our organs function better, and it has no taste. So, despite some made up beliefs inside your head, it’s nearly impossible to dislike it. I usually consume 8 ounces every two hours which equates to around 64 ounces a day. 64 ounces per day just so happens to be the daily recommendation for water consumption.
9% of the time I have smoothies. Smoothies are very healthy if you’re sure the only ingredients are whole foods and plant based. For example, you can get a smoothie at a restaurant that’s filled with zero-fiber juice, added sugar and extra “boosts.” In this way smoothies can become unhealthy real quick. That’s why I tend to drink smoothies that I’ve made myself like the ones here. If you get yourself a healthy whole foods plant based smoothie, it’s an easy way consume fruits, veggies and seeds in liquid form. You’ll add tons of fiber, healthy calories, and nutrients into your diet very quickly.
The other 1% of the time I’ll have a tea. Most teas are packed with antioxidants that help stave off cancer, heart disease and stroke. They’re also calorie free and contain less caffeine than a coffee. Tea is a great alternative for people who consume a lot of coffee and would like a healthier option. I recommend drinking a variety of teas to get the most benefits (true teas (black, green, white) and herbal teas (chamomile, peppermint, ginger)).
What Might Be Worth Drinking
If you’re going to drink milk, look for an unsweetened organic plant based milk. This may be hard to find if you’re new to plant based milks because so many of the new dairy free options have added sugar, salt and fat. But, I’ve managed to find a few good ones. One of my favorites is the So Delicious Organic Unsweetened Coconut Milk. Although I never drink this by itself, I do use it with my smoothies. There are a lot of good nutrients in the milk and not a lot of additives. I haven’t found much reason or research that doesn’t recommend plant based milk.
I have mixed feelings about coffee. I’ve never drank it in my life and have never had any interest in it. The research on it’s health benefits are more positive than not in my opinion but there are a few reasons I don’t personally recommend it. It’s generally full of caffeine and additives. With the high caffeine content in coffee, it can become addictive for people. There are a lot of people who feel like they can’t survive or start their day without a cup (my girlfriend is one of them). And, most people have a lot of additives in their coffee too. One packet of sugar, half packet of stevia, one cup of creamer… It starts to make a debatably healthy drink, into an unhealthy drink. So, although there are benefits to coffee like antioxidants, which reduce your cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s risks, the downsides of overuse, caffeine, and additives don’t encourage me to recommend coffee. But if you’re going to drink it, try to stick to one unsweetened cup per day with a plant based creamer – or just drink it black.
What I Never Drink
I could write an entire post on this. And I might. Actually, I probably will. First let’s start by saying that Dietary Guidelines do not recommend that individuals consume alcohol for any reason. Isn’t that enough? That should be enough. But, most people say a drink helps them relax and feel better. Correct, because alcohol consumption causes your body to release serotonin which makes you feel better. And then that serotonin boost fades like a sugar crash to a level lower than before you started drinking. So, you get a short term happiness boost followed by a lower overall happiness level. That sucks. And what’s worse is your body will then start producing lower serotonin levels because it expects you to consume alcohol for that boost again. So big picture, your serotonin levels trend downwards with long term alcohol consumption which is why alcohol consumption so closely correlates to depression and anxiety. This same serotonin effect is seen with marijuana and nicotine consumption. So, if life isn’t hard enough, do you want to make it even harder to be happy? Don’t drink alcohol. Besides alcohol’s effect on your mood, it also has long term effects on your mental health, liver, heart and brain. So that’s that. I never drink alcohol.
Sports Drinks, Soft Drinks and Energy Drinks
I don’t think there’s as much of a difference between these three categories as most people think. First, let’s start with sports drinks. Sure, sports drinks do contain some added vitamins and sodium which may be beneficial if you’re training as hard as professional athletes do, but really the main ingredient in these drinks is sugar. Powerade for example contains 21 grams of sugar per 12oz serving (high fructose corn syrup to be exact). You might as well be having Kool-Aid. And really, most professional athletes have switched to healthier alternatives. For example, Tom Brady, the best football player ever, consumes coconut or fruit-infused water. With these drinks, you get the same nutrients, sugar and sodium as Powerade but in a natural form, which can be taken advantage of fully by the body.
Second, soft drinks. If you take a Powerade, doubled the sugar, stripped the added nutrients, and added caffeine and carbonation, then you have a soft drink. It’s first ingredient, similar to Powerade, is sugar (high fructose corn syrup). Pepsi for example contains 41 grams of sugar per 12oz serving. Soft drinks like Pepsi are strongly linked to weight gain, heart disease and diabetes. There’s also zero positive health benefits I could find about soft drinks.
Third, energy drinks. If you take that soft drink from above, doubled the caffeine and added a host of other “energy boosting” ingredients, then you have an energy drink. Energy drinks are known to be addictive and can cause cardiac arrest, insomnia, headaches and migraines. There are also been a number of people who die from drinking too many energy drinks within a short period of time. I just can’t see how you’d want to risk all of that for a short term energy boost.
As you can expect, I never consume any of these drinks. I think the last time I had one of these may have been a Powerade around 10 years ago.
Juice is usually billed as healthy but most recent research is against it. The reason is, once you remove the juice from the fruit, you also remove all the fiber and nutrients that remain in the skin and core. Therefore, you’re left with a sugary drink that has some nutrients. The reason why sugary fruits are healthy is because the fiber from the fruit will bind to the sugar and help with digestion and sustained energy levels. Since juices have the fiber removed, you’re left with what’s similar to Powerade. Just a sugary drink. Therefore, I tend to avoid juices altogether and stick with whole food smoothies.
Cow’s milk is meant to help baby cows grow 10-20 times their size very rapidly. So, why are we drinking it as fully grown humans? This rapid growth effect that milk is built for, is what can cause cancer cell’s in our bodies to replicate very quickly. Besides correlations to cancer, animal milk consumption is also linked to lower bone strength, allergies and weight gain. If I were you, I’d stick to plant based milks mentioned above that have zero of these dangers.
Do you want to save nearly $4,000 per year? Do you want to be happier and healthier? Do you want to live with more sustained energy throughout your life?
Try a water. And if you’re feeling a little unsatisfied, make yourself a smoothie.
Or even a tea.
‘Cause drinks are overrated and most cause more harm than good.
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- Average Spend on Coffee Per Year
- Average Spend on Alcohol Per Year
- Average Spend on Soft Drinks Per Year
- Daily Water Recommendation
- Fact Sheets – Alcohol Use and Your Health
- This Is How Alcohol Really Impacts Your Happiness
- Top 15+ Energy Drink Dangers
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