The Top 10 Beverages to Avoid
A glass of lemonade or bottled tea may sound harmless, but when you look at the added sugar...
A glass of lemonade or bottled tea may sound harmless, but when you look at the added sugar and lack of nutritional value in these calorie-laden beverages, you’ll understand why they can be detrimental to your diet. “One of the most unrecognized ways to blow the calorie bank and pack on extra pounds is drinking high-calorie beverages,” says Kristen Smith, an Atlanta-based registered dietitian and founder of 360 Family Nutrition. Keep your calorie consumption in check by eliminating the 10 beverages on the next slides from your diet.
1. Fruit Juices
If your goal is to drop a few pounds and trim your waistline, don’t reach for juice. Just one 12-ounce glass of fruit juice provides anywhere from 150 to 230 calories. “The brain doesn’t compensate for these calories or make you want to eat any less, so you drink the juice and then continue to consume the same amount of calories as if you hadn’t had the drink,” says Tammy Lakatos Shames, a New York-based registered dietitian and co-author of “The Secret to Skinny.” Although 100-percent juice can deliver big on nutrition, it falls short on filling you up. “This especially happens since the juice contains no protein or fiber, which both would cause a more gradual rise in blood sugar and satiety,” Lakatos Shames adds.
2. Protein Drinks
Protein drinks may be marketed to pump you up, but these drinks can be a source of excess calories and often extra protein you may not need for your daily diet, according to Amy Margulies, a Chicago-based registered dietitian with Retrofit, an online personal-training program. “On average, 0.8 to 1 gram of protein per kilogram of your body weight meets your daily protein needs,” she says. Needs may be higher if you’re involved in endurance or resistance training.
A cold glass of lemonade is refreshing on a hot summer day, but resist the urge to imbibe large quantities of this beverage. “Unfortunately, to combat the high acidity in lemon juice, a large amount of sweetener is used to make lemonade, including high-fructose corn syrup,” says registered dietitian Kristen Smith. This refreshing drink can also spike your daily calorie intake, since the average 12-ounce glass of lemonade contains approximately 168 calories. Instead, opt for lemonade made with a minimal amount of table sugar.
4. Bottled Tea (Except When It's Sugar-Free)
Grocery-store shelves are full of bottled beverages, but many of these liquids are a waste of time if you are following a nutrient-rich healthy lifestyle, says Elizabeth Somer, an Oregon-based registered dietitian and author of “Eat Your Way to Happiness.” “Most of the bottled teas on the market have the sugar equivalent of soda, and those healthy polyphenols are low or nonexistent when tea is stored for any length of time,” she says. “You are far better off, both health-wise and for your pocketbook, by brewing your own tea at home.”
5. Blended Coffee Drinks
A cup of coffee is a low-calorie way to jump-start your morning, but when you mix in the fixings, it may be a calorie bomb you want to avoid. “Additions of whole milk, whipped cream and syrup can turn a morning drink into a calorie-dense dessert,” says dietitian Kristen Smith. Iced coffee drinks can offer upwards of 520 calories, 23 grams of fat and 69 grams of sugar. If you can’t resist the temptation of blended coffee drinks, opt for skim milk, no whipped cream and no syrup to reduce your calorie, fat and added sugar intake.
6. Energy Drinks
When you need some energy to get through the day, resist the urge to down an energy drink loaded with caffeine and sugar, warns dietitian Elizabeth Somer. “These beverages are nothing more than soda pop with a stimulant halo,” she says. You may be trading a small burst of energy for unsafe side effects. In light of a number of deaths that have occurred in the past few years after consuming energy drinks, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently released guidelines to help counter this issue. According to the University of Florida’s Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, energy drinks can cause “caffeine intoxication,” which can promote difficulty sleeping, a jittery feeling and an increased or irregular heartbeat. If you consume caffeine regularly, stopping suddenly could lead to headaches and changes in your mood, so wean yourself gradually.
7. Diet Drinks
From diet soda to teas and lemonades with artificial sweeteners, diet drinks are not ideal for a healthy lifestyle, says Kelly Jones, a Pennsylvania-based registered dietitian and ambassador for PHIT America, an organization encouraging active, healthy lifestyles. “These diet drinks contain non-nutritive sweeteners, such as aspartame, sucralose and acesulfame potassium, which are artificial and chemical,” says Jones. A study published by the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine in June 2010 even suggests that artificial sweeteners contribute to altered appetite control and weight gain, says Jones. In addition to this, artificial sweeteners are found everywhere in today’s food system, and while they don’t add any calories or true sugar to our diets, they perpetuate the sweet tooth rather than training our taste buds to crave and rely on the sweet taste less.
8. Sports Drinks
Although sports drinks are chock-full of carbohydrates, vitamins and electrolytes to hydrate and boost endurance, if you are not an active athlete, the overabundance of sugar in sports drinks could also boost your calorie intake significantly. Ideal for active individuals exercising more than 60 minutes, sports drinks do have benefits, but for moments when you are inactive, the flavorful beverage may be adding unneeded sugar to your diet. Unless you’re exercising for long periods of time, stick with calorie-free water and skip the sports drinks to avoid unnecessarily upping your calorie intake.
9. Flavor Drops and Splashes
Adding a dose of flavor and color to your bottled water may improve the taste, but the flavor drops could be compromising the health value of an otherwise pure and healthy drink. “These contain both artificial sweeteners and artificial food dyes,” says dietitian Kelly Jones. “While research is currently deemed inconclusive by experts, food dyes have been linked to hyperactivity in children, and some studies have shown cancer development in animals.” To avoid intake of artificial sweeteners and artificial food dyes, read the product labels of flavor drops and splashes.
Many people consume soda on a daily basis, however, a can a day may be doing more harm to your body than you realize. According to Dr. Colette Brown-Graham, a physician with Complete Healthcare for Women in Wellington, Florida, soda and carbonated beverages with sugar or high-fructose corn syrup spike your daily calorie intake. The Institute of Medicine recommends that added sugar make up less than 25 percent of total calories, while the American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars to less than 100 calories daily for women and 150 calories daily for men. Just one 12-ounce can of cola has 39 grams of sugar -- that’s 156 calories from sugar.