A healthy weight and weight management plan comes with portion control and choosing your liquid calories wisely. A recent study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition compared beverage and food intake and weight changes in more than 800 men and women. The research found that when the men and women cut 100 calories from liquids, a half of pound was lost at 18 months, compared to 100 calories cut from food, only 0.1 pounds was lost at 18 months.

That said, know what you’re drinking and be cautious of “danger drinks.” Above all, food and drinks are one of the best pleasures in life and while you are watching what you consume, don’t forget to enjoy the choices you’re making.

#1 Soda. Whether the bubbly drink is diet or not, it can still be the culprit of what’s holding those unwanted pounds on your waistline. First, focusing on regular soda – the same study mentioned above found that when 12 ounces of a sugar-sweetened beverage was eliminated a day, participants lost 1 pound at 6 months and 1.5 pounds at 18 months. This is one small but significant change that you can implement in your everyday. If skipping out on soda altogether is too hard, try skipping it every other day. Secondly, even diet soda can do weight loss damage. The artificial sweetener can leave one still craving for more sweets.

To the rescue! To substitute the regular or diet soda, try something that still has the refreshing carbonation but no added sweeteners. Swap out soda for seltzer water and a fresh slice of lemon or lime. This drink will help rehydrate you and not leave your taste buds asking for more. Seltzer water pairs well with foods and can cool you off during the hot weather.

#2 Fancy coffees. Believe it or not, but your cup of Joe can offer health benefits. When coffee is consumed in moderation and not loaded with sugar and cream, the risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, and more can be reduced. On the flip side, when you coffee is actually a Carmel cappuccino, more than just a few calories sneak into your daily calorie allowance. What appears to be innocent – a medium, iced-vanilla coffee from McDonald’s, actually contains a mere 183 calories. This example is the least troublesome of the multiple fancy coffee drinks, but it’s a good illustration to see how liquid calories can stack up. For 183 calories you can have two pieces of fruit and feel fuller with the supplied fiber.

To the rescue! Coffee in portion (no more than one to two cups a day) can be part of a healthy diet. If you are like many Americans and start your day with this beverage, be wary about how you dress it up. The sugar and cream are not calorie free. Yet, to substitute fancy coffee drinks, iced and hot freshly-brewed teas are very suitable and offer many health benefits, if not more. If you are still craving for something smooth, try a low fat or fat free creamer. The adjustment may not happen over night but adjusting your taste buds to a new indulgence is very doable.

#3 Alcohol. Your social life shouldn’t run dry when you are “dieting.” Going out to happy hour and with friends can be weight-friendly and enjoyed with a plan. A few drinks to shy away from include the icy cold ones: Margaritas, daiquiris and Pina Coladas. These drinks have enough calories to count as a meal. An ungarnished, 10 ounce, Pina Colada (meaning no cherry juice, cherries, or pineapples) has close to 550 calories. And the worse part is that it’s hard to stop at just one! When drinking alcohol, it’s not just that extra calories you are taking in but after a few drinks your food choices can slip too. Next night out, have a plan and substitute with some of the ideas below.

To the rescue! Mocktails. When choosing what to drink while out, choose a light beer, dry wine or liquor mixed with soda water over sugar-loaded beverages. Above all, substituting a tall glass of water in between drinks is budget friendly for your wallet and waist. In the occasion of hosting a party or get together, be adventurous and mix a low calorie beverage for everyone to share.

#4 Milkshakes. The commercials promoting milkshakes and melting ice cream cones can be convincingly calling your name. Yet, those craving may halt once you learn what is all captured in these types of indulgences. Ingredients such as yogurt can easily be mistaken for healthy when guzzling down a milkshake. You’d be surprised that a strawberry, frozen yogurt, milkshake from Steak ‘n’ Shake’s has more than 500 calories.

To the rescue! Smoothies. Smoothies can be a safer weight management option in place of milkshakes. If you are blending a smoothie from home, mix together low-sugar and low-fat yogurt or ice-cream, load-up the ice, skim milk, and add in a fruit serving to your liking. If you are at an ice cream parlor or restaurant, don’t hesitate to ask what is added into the smoothie and modify as needed. Sometimes, places tend to add powders and unnecessary ingredients. A second option is to choose a fresh vegetable juice in place of the smoothie. A personal favorite is carrot juice!

Water. This is the drink of champions and a water bottle can be the perfect weight loss tool. Filling up with water before a meal may also help you lose weight. In a study published last year in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, researchers found that people who drank water before meals ate an average of 75 fewer calories at that meal! Hunger can be mistaken for thirst and the best resolution is water.

Have a healthy and fit day!