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Madelyn Fernstrom: Watch for hidden calories in every sip

Have your healthiest summer yet! Ease into the dreaded "swimsuit season" with healthy tips from TODAY experts. All throughout May, we'll offer smart do-it-yourself ways to look, eat and feel better. So stop stressing about that swimsuit, and read on.

Trimming calories from liquids makes perfect sense to jump-start your summer health. Staying hydrated in warm weather is key, but many liquids are loaded with calories and sugars -- often carrying a health-food halo with added vitamins and minerals. But don’t be fooled!

Leonard Ortiz / Zuma Press

Mmm, delicious. But many smoothies are loaded with calories and sugar.

Since our bodies don’t register liquid calories very well compared to solid food, this can translate to hundreds of extra hidden calories daily. Soda, sports and energy drinks, 100 percent juice and juice blends, and many “smoothies” are all loaded with sugar and calories, so pay attention to the nutrition label before choosing. Look for both calories per serving, AND how many calories per bottle.

 (Health alert: Low and non-fat milk -- cow, goat, or soy -- is one liquid you’ll want to include!)

Check out my favorite quick and easy tips for hydrating this summer without packing on the pounds:

  • Add a wedge of any fruit, a splash of your favorite juice, or a fruit “ice cube” to perk up your water or seltzer.
  • Low calorie sweetened beverages can help – often overly sweet, dilute them by half with water or seltzer. Or use a half-packet of a powdered sachet to sweeten.
  • Choose down-sized full-calorie liquids (8 ounces or less per box/can).
  • Watch out for smoothies – order a small, ask for fresh fruit, and skip the protein powders.
  • Be mindful of the add-ins to your coffee and tea; if you drink these throughout the day, even modest calories add up. Skip the sugary syrups, whipped cream, and aim for reduced calorie dairy.
  • A sugar user? All sugars have about 15 calories per teaspoon, even when they sound “healthy,” so measure out your serving. 

TODAY's diet and nutrition editor Madelyn Fernstrom tests Kathie Lee and Hoda's knowledge of some popular spring cocktails such as a mint julep, a "mocktail" and margaritas.

More from TODAY Health's Summer Shape Up series: