This Wednesday: a simple, radical way to cut out a huge number of calories.

Every Wednesday is Tip Day.
This Wednesday…A simple, radical way to cut a huge number of calories out of your diet.

Don’t drink any calories. None.

That means:
– no alcohol
– no orange juice
– no Gatorade
– no Starbucks Frappuccino
– no POM Wonderful juice
– no VitaminWater
– no milk in your tea or coffee
– no Jamba Juice smoothie
– no Red Bull
– no non-diet soft drink
– no chai
– no hot chocolate

I can’t have breakfast without my grapefruit juice!
Yes, you can.

I can’t exercise without an energy drink!
Yes, you can.

I can’t have dinner without a civilized glass of wine!
Yes, you can.

I need anti-oxidants!
Drink black coffee. It’s packed with antioxidants.

I need to drink something when I exercise, or I’ll develop an electrolyte imbalance!
If you’re exercising hard enough to worry about electrolyte imbalances, it’s unlikely you need to worry about calories.

I need a healthy afternoon pick-me-up!
Eat a snack instead of drinking a smoothie. You’re unlikely to eat enough to hit the 650 calories blended into a power-sized Jamba Juice Banana-Berry smoothie.

I love orange juice!
Orange juice is delicious. It’s a real treat. If you want to cut calories out of your diet, unfortunately, you have to cut down on the treats.

But orange juice is healthy! Red wine is healthy!
If you’re drinking something for nutritional reasons, you’re better off getting those nutrients from eating food.

But it’s so few calories, it can hardly matter!
Do the math. Find out how many calories are in your favorite drink, multiply by how often you have it, and see what number pops up. Over the course of the year, little indulgences can add up to a staggering number of calories.

That’s no way to live!
Maybe not. But it is a simple way to cut out a lot of calories.

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  • this is so NOT what i want to hear! But thanks for the insight. I’m in lurve with powerade Option (the low calorie energy drink) and i guess i need to cut that out…right after i finish the 4 bottles i have left 🙂

  • That drink may be self-described as “low calorie” — but add up the calories consumed over the course of the year, and you’ll fall off your chair in shock. That said, my sister keeps reminding me that many people–such as herself–find my approach to cutting out liquid calories to be a little extreme. Perhaps…what’s the word…obsessive? Control-freakish? Ridiculous? But hey, it’s a simple rule to follow! And you will really enjoy those last four bottles.

  • Thanks for writing this, it helps to confirm my own lifestyle choices I made for myself about a year ago.
    Last year, I decided to do something proactive about my health as I generally felt lethargic and my mind groggy…all the time. Like a lot of people I researched online about possible dietary causes and that’s when I made the conscious decision to drop diet soda (for right or wrong). At first I didn’t know what to replace it with! For a few weeks I turned to sugared sodas and while I believe my mind was starting to clear (aspartame posioning? I don’t know), my mid section was going in the opposite direction. I then decided to drop soft drinks all together and switched to carbonated water. I discovered that once I started on the path to make conscious decisions to do something like drop soft drinks from my diet, which have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember, the easier the transition became! After a couple of months of weaning myself off pop, I made the final leap and dropped carbonated beverages from my diet altogether. I figured, why stop there? The next thing to go was caffiene. Before I go on, I should say to any doubters that I have been a coffee fan ever since I discovered coffee at a church function at 10-11 years of age. I’m now 33. I love coffee! This was going to be very difficult, but I decided to go it the same way as with the others, simply drop it from my diet. It was indeed very difficult. I suffered from intense headaches almost immediately and I became irritable and cranky. This lasted for about 1 1/2 weeks but at the end of it my head cleared and I was starting to feel better than I had for a long time.
    Nowadays my daily liquid diet comprises of a large black decaf coffee in the morning (Starbucks makes the best decaf), bottled water at lunch, green tea in the afternoon, and bottled water/green tea with/following supper.
    I now find that I’ve completely lost my taste for sugared, carbonated drinks and although decaf coffee isn’t without its issues, I am no longer dependant on caffiene. I never thought I’d like drinking water, but now I crave it!
    I can also imagine how many calories I’ve removed from my diet by simply dropping sugary drinks, cream/sugar from my coffee etc. It has indeed been a very positive lifestyle choice for me.
    Thank you for the opportunity to share my experience!

  • I’m 51 years old, a vegetarian for over 30 years, and I pretty much eat and drink whatever I want. My workouts do go better if I drink orange juice instead of just water, so I drink it. I never think about calories. I don’t worry about getting so many glasses of water per day. Every once in awhile, I drink a soft drink. I don’t worry about that either.

  • Hi Gretchen!
    First time over at your blog and i like what you write…wanted to start a weight loss/health blog myself, hence looking at what people are writing…

  • Bebek

    I love creating sharp contrasts between flavors like black coffee or yogurt and fruit to satisfy my senses while deprived of calories. When I take the time to savor eating fruits and vegetables it becomes an experience of tremendous sensuality and an opportunity to feel gratitude for the food itself.

  • No wine or hot chocolate???! I couldn’t deal with such self-denial – I’d rather have a bit of extra padding! I agree about the juice and the fizzy drinks though – I am always shocked when I check the labels to see how many calories, and diet drinks are just as bad in terms of health I think also…

  • jean-christophe

    The only liquid the humane body is designed to absorb is water. This is basically the only thing that should be drunk. Anything else needs to be processed by the digestive system and is using more ressources. Nutrients should be found in vegetables or meat. (at least that’s what mom always say 😮 )

  • emilie

    Odd timing—I stopped buying juice for the family last month for 2 other reasons as well (weight issues being the first): cost (think of the savings over a year!) AND —I love that there will be that much less packaging (plastic/cardboard) out there in the environment as the result of our decision! It’s been a few weeks and so far I’m actually liking just water—I feel cleaner. I drink it out of a big wine glass!

  • Liz Craft

    When I moved to Los Angeles in my late twenties, I was dirt poor. One of my few extravagences was Tropicana graprefruit juice. My friend, Mindy, came to visit and noticed how sparingly I poured glasses of the stuff. She dubbed it “liquid gold.” I don’t drink grapefruit juice anymore because of my diabetes, but I smile every time I think about “liquid gold.” Worth every calorie.

  • Sarah Fain

    While I agree that there are a lot of unnecessary calories in beverages, it should be noted that one recent study found that people who drink fruit or vegetable juice three times a week are 76% less likely to get Alzheimer’s disease. Something to think about– especially for those who aren’t known to be the healthiest eaters. Having a little V8 juice a few times a week isn’t going to expand anyone’s waist line and could save a lot of pain and suffering in the future.

  • Well put. And orange juice isn’t good for you anyway! It’s got way too much concentrated sugar. God made fruit. Juice is a part of fruit, but when we extract it, we alter it too much. Don’t muck with nature, I say. 😉

  • I gave up drinking everything but water one year for Lent, and it was a great decision! I had already mostly dropped soda from my diet (I only drank soda about 2-3 times a year for 5-6 years of my life). Juice was my big killer. I found that, once I dropped juice, I found the taste cloying sweet. I now only have juice as an occasional (perhaps once a month?) treat, and I often dilute it some.
    I just started grad school, and there is free soda at so many of our functions. Therefore, I drink much more soda than I ever have before, and I find drinking it to be a vicious cycle. The more I drink, the more I crave it. I think I may give up non-water fluids again for Lent this year as a way to reign in my not-so-great trend.

  • This is for the person who pointed out that people who drink lots of juice have a lower occurrence of Alzheimer’s. I haven’t read the study that found this, but often a factor that looks causal is associated with something else, i.e., people who drink a lot of juice probably also do other healthy things as well. And, there’s only so much fluid a person can drink in a day, so drinking a lot of juice probably means drinking small amounts of alcohol, soda, milkshakes, etc. Perhaps it’s the absence of these other beverages that’s associated with low risk of AD. Just something to think about!

  • Megan

    I’m 21 years old. Last year, my New Year’s resolution was to go on a super strict diet, because the joy I was getting out of food and drinks certainly was NOT exceeding the pain and unhappiness I felt from being 220 lbs. I went on a diet called (I’m not advertising this particular diet, because it’s really just basic math and balancing skills that you have to PAY for). It was about 800 calories a day. The only beverage allowed was water. Keep in mind — the diet was designed to be for only ONE month, for maximum weight loss. It guaranteed you’d lose 20 lbs at least in a month if you followed it exactly. Well, I did, and the first week was hard, but the weight started falling off so rapidly. I was getting compliments left and right. Throughout the month, I felt great. My body wasn’t taking in more calories than it needed, but it wasn’t depriving me of energy either. I felt so much more energetic. The first month ended and I had lost 25 lbs. I was on a roll and kept going. It had become a habit for me to eat really strictly, so it wasn’t hard. I kept it up for about 5 months and lost a whopping 65 lbs. It’s been a year and a half since I started that diet, and I’m still within 10 lbs of my lowest weight. I gradually built up to taking in enough calories to sustain a healthy lifestyle, which is about 1200 a day (with plenty of opportunities to cheat!).
    In my experience with this extremely successful diet, I believe that eliminating sugar is the KEY. There were a few times, while on the diet, when I’d sneak a few pieces of candy. I found every time I cheated with sugar, my cravings for food came back ten fold. I’d feel absolutely miserable. I believe — at least as it applies to my body — that sugar causes unnecessary cravings (which is NOT the same as hunger!) and can really sabotage a diet.
    Also, I’d like to add that everyone has their different definitions of happiness. Some people have commented on Gretchen’s suggestions and basically said “that’s no way to be happy”. I can honestly say that I feel a lot happier when I feel like I have control over my life. That applies to eating, for me. Some people derive more happiness out of all the areas in their life being in control, and some people are the opposite way. So, what I’m saying is that no one is really WRONG in their ideas of happiness. I think Gretchen was just giving tips on how to take in less calories… which only applies to YOU if that’s what YOU want to do and would make YOU happy.

  • Stella

    unsweetened tea! Yummy, yummy!

  • Incogneato

    Okay, I just fell for the “eat a snack rather than a smoothie because it couldn’t possibly be as many calories” thing. I checked afterwards and it turns out my snack was 150 calories more than the smoothie! Be careful on this one!

  • Ann

    I’m a pediatrician and give this EXACT advice to obese adolescents. Very often they’re drinking the total number of calories they should be consuming in a day. I don’t want to overwhelm them and set them up for failure right off the bat by suggesting major diet overhauls. This is an excellent place to start and I’ve seen some good results. The teens are amazed at the success of this strategy as a starting point for losing weight.

  • Joe

    I eat a primarily raw/vegan diet. Google “raw vegan” or “uncooking” and check it out yourself.
    I don’t worry about what I eat. I eat whatever, whenever I want. I drink lots of delicious juices and smoothies.
    I’m in the best shape ever. I’m eating and drinking the best foods ever. I never worry about calories.

  • kharris

    Weight loss is not simply a matter of math. I understand that there are plenty of weight loss schemes that assume math is the secret to weight loss, but as the Weight Watchers folks are so fond of pointing out, if dieting worked, there wouldn’t be so many diet fads.
    Writing a blog does not confer expertise. This posting is a perfect example of that fact. Dieters have been urged to give up fat, give up carbohydrates, give up protien, count calories, count points, time their eating to avoid absorbing the calories in their gut, drink water, don’t drink water, fast, don’t fast, purge, sweat with the oldies. Why should we believe that the latest iteration – avoiding calories taken in with liquiid – should have some miraculous impact that other methods have not had? Is there clinical evidence? Scientific theory? I’m guessing not. I’m guessing this is nothing more than the assumption that weight loss is a matter of math. We aren’t that simple.

  • Jeanne

    I have been on the “don’t drink calories” since I lost about 30 pounds a while ago, and want to keep it off. But I can’t live with “never” and “none.” I learned to make the same tropical iced tea that Wolfgang Puck serves in Spago and the same pomegranate tea that is served at Neiman-Marcus. Both delish without sugar. How about cucumber water? LOVE it with lots of ice. San Pellagrino water, or black iced coffee. So I say, cut way back on caloried drinks and learn to love the alternatives, but don’t deny yourself all the time. This leads to feelings of deprivation, and we all know where that can lead.