By Dr. Anthony Policastro

There are many different kinds of diets. They tend to address the different kinds of foods we eat. However, most of them focus on food rather than fluids.

Adults average about 2,100 calories a day in both intake and output. That amounts to about 700 calories for each main meal. That doesn’t account for snack foods. More than that produces weight gain. Less than that produces weight loss.

We all know that water has no calories. However, we do not often pay attention to the fact that other drinks have enough calories to be like us having an extra meal a day. An extra meal a day will put us well on the weight gain track. 

For example a 16 ounce latte from Starbucks has about 190 calories. Two of those per day mean you only get to eat 2.5 meals instead of three.

For those who prefer soda, there are 130 calories per 12 ounces. That means if you have three per day, you only get to eat 2.5 meals per day instead of 3.

Sweetened iced tea has about the same number of calories as soda. So again you can drink tea or eat food. The choice is yours.

Most juices contain even more calories than soda or tea. That means if you drink enough juice, you get to eat less than 2.5 meals per day.

Milk is great for allowing infants to gain weight. It is also great for allowing adults to gain weight. At 220 calories per 12 ounces, it has more than most other drinks.

Beer and wine add about the same number of calories as soda or iced tea. The more of those someone drinks the less calories can be freely obtained by eating food.

Even non-dairy creamers add about 20 calories each to black coffee. Coffee itself has only about four calories. However, if you add four creamers to it, you get to about 80 calories. If you have 3-4 cups of coffee like that, you are back to 2.5 meals per day.

Clearly, we have choices to make. Some people prefer food over drinks for providing calories. Others would prefer to cut down on food and enjoy their favorite drink.

What is not possible is to fill up on both fluid calories and food calories. They are both calories. You either have to burn them or store them. If you elect to store them, it comes in the form of weight gain.

Some people who have lots of high calorie fluids will say they just can’t seem to lose weight. That is not really a surprise.

Total daily calories come from what you eat plus what you drink. It is a basic math equation. If you want to add to one part of the equation, you have to subtract from another part. Failure to do so leads to predictable weight gain.

COVID update- Last week, I suggested that the winter surge had arrived. The statistics this week continue to support that. Nationally, we went from 399,000 new cases last week to 461,000 new cases this week. In Sussex County, the numbers continue to trend upward as well. Sussex County currently remains in the moderate risk range. Total number of cases have gone from 99 per 100,000 last week to 131 per 100,000 this week. If they get to 200 per 100,000, that would put us back into the high risk range (where we were when I decided to go to the DMV and catch COVID despite being masked).

For the months of October and November there were approximately 2,500,000 cases of COVID-19. They were associated with about 18,000 deaths. Most of the deaths were in older individuals who had not yet received the booster dose of vaccine.

By comparison, for the months of October and November there were about 20,000,000 cases of flu with about 15,000 deaths. Influenza had almost 10 times as many cases with a similar number of deaths. So it is clearly less deadly. Those who continue to insist that COVID-19 infection is like the flu have not studied the statistics. In addition, those most likely to die from influenza are older individuals who have not received the flu vaccine.