If you are a health and fitness-conscious person, you know that you should be mindful of calories and try to keep them under control. Believe it or not, losing weight or gaining muscle is all about managing the calories you get in your body every day. If you want to lose weight, you should be on a calorie deficit. For example, eating 500 calories less than your body requires helps you lose about a pound per week. Similarly, if you want to put on muscle, eating around 300-400 more calories per day would help you achieve your goal. However, make sure that your extra calories are of the good kind, not fat.

With that being said, why is important to be mindful of hidden calories and what are they after all? Hidden calories are those types of calories which can easily be neglected. They are calories which most people usually don’t count and can be found in various types of meals and drinks. For example, fitness enthusiasts make sure that they get the required calories from 3 or 4 meals a day, but forgot that they had a snack in between. The snack equals calories too and it can make the difference between a slim body and a puffy one.

To become even more accurate at counting calories, you have to know how to identify them and pay special attention to hidden ones. Let me give you a few examples.

1. Sugar in your coffee

“Come on”, most people say, “It’s just a coffee”. That’s true, but if you like to spice up your favorite drink, you might add some sugar, maybe some milk, etc. Although these are small amounts, they can definitely add up to a couple of hundred of hidden calories over the course of one week, especially if you like to drink several coffees every day. The solution? Well, if you like to sweeten your coffee, don’t kick this habit of yours, just try to limit yourself to one small cup a day. This will also reduce your cortisol levels and maybe improve your sleep too.

2. Midnight snacks

Do yourself a favor and stop burglarizing the fridge in the middle of the night. You know you do it. I can actually picture the perfect scenario – watching your favorite soap, blanket over your feet, cat on your lap and something is missing – a yummy snack! I commend you if you like to snack healthy like going for an apple or a banana, but most of us crave for a cheat snack at the end of the day. As the fitness professional Shaun T said, if you’re hungry in the middle of the night, it’s because you haven’t fed your body properly during the day.

The solution? Get your calories through 3 or 4 meals during the day and this will eventually stop your craving in the night. If you still want to chew on something while watching Netflix, have a salad or a fruit. I know, boring, but anything else can become hidden calories which will add up at the end of the week.

3. Fruit juice

This one can become a contender in the “hidden calories” category because most people think fruit juice alone is good for your health. Well, it’s not that good. Fruit juice, regardless of its type, is pure sugar. It contains a lot of fructose and none of the fiber since most of it is eliminated in the process of making the juice. Since you think it’s good for your health, you might be tempted to drink a glass of two per day and that means several hundred calories at the end of the week.

It is best to eliminate fruit juice altogether or at least minimize your intake. Remember, you need that fiber for your regularity, not to mention that a glass of juice can give you an insulin spike. Eat the fruit as a whole or go for tea.

4. Gift candy

You’re at work, someone wants to celebrate something or just wants to be nice and offers you cookies, candies, ice cream or another type of sweet food. You want to be polite and accept the gift, but remember that those are truly caloric bombs! It really depends on the type of sweet you’re offered, but the extra calories need to be burned, so you’ll have to work harder in the gym to eliminate them. It is best to just have the courage to say “No, thank you! I’m on this special diet and I have to seriously limit sugar intake.” You are being polite and you’re being true to yourself. The other person will definitely understand and you avoid getting a few hundred extra calories in your body.

5. Friday night beer

Alcoholic beverages pack a lot of calories too. A large beer can have up to 200 calories. You have to run at moderate speed for at least 20 minutes to burn that. A glass of wine can have around 120 calories. And what comes after alcoholic beverages? That’s right, an irresistible hunger and desire to eat everything put in front of you. A single Friday evening taken to the extreme can make you “richer” with at least 1,000 calories if you’re not careful.

The solution? Either drastically limit alcohol consumption or eliminate it altogether. If you really want those 6-pack abs to pop up, you’ll understand and you’ll not have too much trouble processing the idea of not drinking alcohol.

These are just a few examples of hidden calories that can ruin your waistline and make you feel like you’re not making any progress. Remember, almost anything you put in your pie hole can either get you closer or further from your goal. You have complete control over your life and you can decide what to eat and drink every day. Good luck!

Nick Gold is a health writer for hire specializing in fitness, nutrition and wellness topics. He writes regularly on multiple health websites including DiscountedLabs and ExcelMale. As a self-proclaimed fitness addict, Nick spends a lot of time trying different workouts and exercise regimens, practicing yoga, mixed martial arts and weight-lifting. In his spare time, Nick takes care of his cat, Zorro, and occasionally enjoys a pizza, his favorite cheat meal.

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