It may be the most instantly gratifying pleasure known to man: That first cold, refreshing sip of your favorite beverage on a hot summer’s day. And when the weather turns cold? A beverage is still the fastest way to warm up the chill and turn your mood around. What could possibly go wrong?
Well this: While a drink may be the fastest way to quench your third or comfort a chill, it’s also the fastest way to blow up a waistline. In fact, liquid calories now account for a whopping 21 percent of our daily calorie intake—more than 400 calories every single day, more than twice as much as we drank 30 years ago.
Simply cutting your drink calories in half could mean shaving off more than 23 pounds in just one year—an important statistic, since losing weight becomes harder after age 40.
The researchers at Eat This, Not That! studied every popular drink available, and compiled this essential list of the 40 Drinks You Should Never Drink After 40. Avoid the belly-busting drinks here and stay lean for life—one sip at a time.
Flavored Coconut Water
Plain coconut water is a wonderful electrolyte replenisher, but once companies throw in added sweeteners and tropical fruit-flavored syrups (think pineapple coconut water), you often end up drinking more sugar than is in an actual coconut.
For many of us, lemonade evokes memories of cute kids sitting at a stand the end of their driveway. And while the littles pushing the drink may be innocent enough, the beverage itself is not. Teaming with 120 calories and nearly 30 grams of sugar per cup, the only thing we like about this drink is it’s fairly harmless list of ingredients. While water sugar and lemon juice won’t make you sick, drinking it in excess could bring on a metabolic condition that will. For even more eats that should be on your “do not eat” list, read up on these 150 Worst Packaged Foods in America.
Probiotics are great for maintaining good gut health, but not when they’re tainted with loads of sugar. Take Bolthouse Farms’ Peach Parfait Breakfast Smoothie made with yogurt as an example: just one 15.2-fl-oz bottle packs in 360 calories and 44 grams of sugar. You’re better off enjoying a satiating serving of these 25 Best Yogurts for Weight Loss instead.
Pumpkin Spice Lattes
Fall is just around the corner, and we know how difficult it can be to resist a classic, comforting PSL as summer slowly slips away. But passing up the pumpkin-flavored bev will do wonders for your waistline. If you order a tall PSL from Starbucks with 2 percent milk and no whipped cream—a choice that seems slim to most—you’re still ingesting 240 calories and a whopping 37 grams of sugar. If you really need a caffeine fix, stick to black coffee with a splash of cream and limit your seasonal latte indulgences to once or twice a month.
If you order a gin and tonic at the bar thinking the clear mixer is better for your belly than dark sodas, think again. Just 12 ounces of tonic water can cost you 124 calories and 32 grams of sugar—that’s only seven grams less than soda for the same amount!
Root Beer Floats
Since when did a blend of ice cream and root beer ever sound like a good idea? Maybe as a kid, but not as a health-conscious adult. If you must relive your childhood from time to time, make sure to share the creamy float with a friend!
Mixing your liquors is never a good idea, especially if it’s in Lime-A-Rita form. Bud Light packs 220 calories into a small eight-ounce can, and the sweet concoction is made with high fructose corn syrup and artificial flavors. Make your own refreshing (and way less caloric) marg with fresh lime juice, a teaspoon of honey, triple sec, and tequila.
“Laxatives make you go to the restroom, where you are quickly removing any nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that may be in your intestines waiting to be absorbed into the body. If you continue on laxatives over the long term, it can result in nutrient deficiencies and even illness, Toby Amidor, MS, RD cautions. “There are appropriate and safe ways to lose weight and taking laxatives is not one of them.”
Instead of getting tipsy, these sugar-spiked beverages will just widen your waistline. Stick with a glass or two of red wine wine’s powerful antioxidant benefits.
Considering most of these beverage flavoring agents are made with sketchy artificial sweeteners like acesulfame potassium and sucralose, we advise you to stay away. While acesulfame potassium is believed to have carcinogenic properties, sucralose is a sweetener that’s been found to mess with your body’s satiety signals. What’s more, these concentrates are filled with potentially harmful dyes like red 40 and yellow 6 which are contaminated with known carcinogens—no wonder they’re considered to be some of the 23 Worst Food Additives in America!
Certain Bottled Teas
In its purest form tea is one of the best weight loss allies you’ll find. It contains antioxidants which have been found to help rev your metabolism, block the formation of new fat cells, fight off diseases, and lower risk of stroke. But not all teas are created equal—especially those sold in bottles. In fact, a recent study found that you’d have to drink 20 bottles of store-bought tea to get the same amount of antioxidants present in just one home-brewed cup. Plus, the bulk of the bottles brews get their brown hue from caramel color (instead of actual tea) and are packed with more sugar than you’d find in a handful of Chips Ahoy cookies. To learn which ones are safe to sip and which are better to skip, skim our report, The 26 Worst Bottled Tea Products.
While a cup of two of coffee can do your body good, you may want to think twice before sizing up to a large or indulging in a fourth cup of Joe. The reason: Doing so may make your bone brittle. “I try to avoid excessive caffeine,” says Dr. Mamta M. Mamik, Assistant Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “An adult can safely consume up to 400 milligrams of caffeine a day (which is equivalent to four 8-ounce cups of coffee), but drinking any more than that can cause calcium excretion, which, over time, may lead to osteoporosis. Avoiding excess caffeine also helps to ward off uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms like lethargy, insomnia, headaches, and irritability,” she adds.
While they may have “water” in their name, these bottled beverages are 120 calories each, and every single one of those calories comes from sugar. And it’s not just a little bit of sugar, either. There are 31 grams of in a 20-ounce bottle of Vitaminwater, which is 7 and ¾ teaspoons of the sweet stuff. If you want to infuse some flavor and nutrients into your water, ditch the bottled stuff and make one of these 50 Best Detox Waters for Fat Burning and Weight Loss, instead.
Fast Food Iced Tea
Spiked with sugar and caramel coloring, fast food iced tea is a definite no-go in our book! Our suggestion: Whip up a pitcher of the stuff at home, instead, using one of these 22 Best Teas for Weight Loss.
What do artificial colors and fat-causing fake sugars all have in common? They’re in your favorite diet fizzy drinks. Nearly all popular diet sodas contain aspartame, an artificial sweetener that was initially developed to aid weight loss but has recently been found to have the opposite effect.
“Sugar substitutes like aspartame are designed to promote weight loss and decrease the incidence of metabolic syndrome, but a number of clinical and epidemiologic studies have suggested that these products don’t work very well and may actually make things worse,” says Richard Hodin, MD, lead author of a recent study on the matter. So what should you be sipping instead? Water is always a safe choice, as are these 15 New Drinks That Make it Easy to Quit Soda.
Liquid Coffee Creamer
The problem with coffee creamer? There’s no cream! Many brands are packed with trans fats, also known as partially hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oil. Pretty much all of Nestle Coffee Mate’s products have this scary ingredient that a study in PLOS ONE showed to diminish memory in adults under 45 years old. Consumption of the ingredient also increases your risk of heart disease—hence why the FDA will ban the ingredient in 2018. Alternatives like Hood’s Country Creamer and International Delight French Vanilla eschew the partially hydrogenated stuff, but still use mono and diglycerides, which can contain trans fats, but dodge FDA labeling laws.
While whipping up a frozen marg at home isn’t quite as bad as getting it from a bar (400 calories vs. 700), it’s still the worst cocktail for your waistline. Made with a sugar-spiked neon mix and tequila, the summer staple will overload your system with more sugar than you’d find in nine Dunkin’ Donuts Apple n’ Spice Donuts! Other frozen beverages aren’t much better, either. The average strawberry daiquiri, for example, has about 280 calories and 44 grams of sugar per serving. Not to mention, it’s also 99 percent high fructose corn syrup. Switch to a glass of bubbly with muddled strawberries and lemon slices to get your fruity fix for a fraction of the waist-widening calories. These 18 Wines for Weight Loss are also solid picks.
Sure, it’s natural and overflowing with vitamin C, but it’s loaded with sugar—and totally void of any nutrients like fiber or protein to help slow the sugar spike. An average glass packs 36 grams of sugar —or about what you’d get from popping 4 Krispy Kreme glazed donuts into a blender and hitting frappe. What’s more, most of the sweetness in juice comes from fructose, a type of sugar associated with the development of belly fat. A better drink for citrus lovers? Water flavored with fresh slices of oranges, lemon, and grapefruit. For added benefits, keep the peels on. Citrus peels contain the antioxidant d-limonene, a powerful compound that helps flush out stored visceral fat.
Conventional Skim Milk
While skim milk may be lowest in calories, many of its vitamins are fat-soluble, which means you won’t get all the benefits of the alphabetical nutrients listed on your cereal box unless you opt for at least 1%. Why’s it important to opt for grass-fed, organic cartons over the conventional stuff? Not only does it taste better and stay fresh longer, when the herds graze on grass instead of feed, their milk has higher levels of omega-3s and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), a nutrient that boosts immunity, improves bone mass, and even reduce body fat—gotta love that! To learn more about the best cereal and coffee additions for your health, don’t miss our report, The Best and Worst Milks and Milk Alternatives.
Canned Energy Drinks
These overpriced chemical cocktails may give you a surge of energy, but they’re riddled with harmful sweeteners (many of which made our list of these Best and Worst Popular Sweeteners) and are even more corrosive to your teeth than regular soda. Just say no to these icky drinks!
It may have images of brightly colored fruit on the can but that doesn’t mean it carries any health benefits or actual fruit, for that matter. What they do contain, however, is as much sugar as three Snickers Ice Cream bars and stomach-churning chemicals like red 40, sodium benzoate and BVO, a chemical used in rocket fuel and flame retardants that can negatively affect thyroid hormones. Curious what other strange things may be messing with your body’s ability to trim down? Don’t miss our special report, 31 Ways You Messed Up Your Metabolism Today.
Bottled Alcoholic Mixers
Most people mix up a cocktail to boost their mood and cut loose. But if you typically combine the stiff stuff with a bottled mixer you may be doing more hard them good—and not only when it comes to your waistline. “[Cocktail mixers are] a lot like soda drinks when it comes to their sugar content,” celebrity nutritionist and health consultant Mikaela Reuben tells us. “The effect of their high sugar content is the same; the sugars will be released into the bloodstream, allowing an energy boost to take place but ultimately ends in a low point, leaving one to feel fatigued, irritable, and depressed.” To mix a better-for-you cocktail, stick with things like flavored seltzer and freshly squeezed lime juice. Prefer something store-bought? These Healthy Low-Calorie Mixers for Every Kind of Cocktail are about to become your new favorites.
With or without added liquor, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that traditional eggnog is a calorie bomb that belongs on the naughty list: the primary ingredients are milk, cream, and eggs. To save 200 calories make yours with organic unsweetened almond milk instead of milk and cream. For even more ways to nix unnecessary cals from your diet, don’t miss these 25 Ways to Cut 250 Calories.
Commercial Hot Cocoa
While it’s true that packets of hot cocoa aren’t great in terms of nutrition, the kind you get from restaurants and coffee joints are far worse. A 16-ounce Starbucks hot chocolate with 2% milk, for example, has half a day’s saturated fat, 400 calories, and 43 grams of sugar which is two-and-a-half times as much as you’ll find in the brand’s make-at-home packets. Even if you decide to indulge in the drink on occasion, at least use our trusty report, 19 of Your Favorite Hot Cocoas—Ranked so you can make an educated choice about your indulgent drink.
Vodka, Kahlua, Baileys Irish Cream, milk, and chocolate syrup, combine together to create this fatty concoction that’s bound to not only leave you tipsy but severely bloated, too. An average cocktail has a staggering 750 calories!
Sorry, Moscow Mule fans but ginger beer isn’t good news for your waistline. In fact, it’s one of the most calorie-dense carbonated drinks on the market. An average 7-ounce serving has 171 calories, which brakes down to about 24 calories per ounce. For comparison, a typical vending machine soda has 14 calories per ounce. To learn more about how all your favorite colas stack up, don’t miss our report, 70 Most Popular Sodas Ranked By How Toxic They Are.
Just how Velveeta isn’t real cheese, Sunny D isn’t actual juice; it’s just a mix of water, high fructose corn syrup, and a few token dribbles of juice concentrates, canola oil, and chemicals. Their tagline may be “When life gives you oranges, make Sunny D,” but don’t be fooled, there’s hardly any oranges in the bottle—which is why is has zero nutritional benefits.
Sweetened Milk Alternatives
Sweetened milk alternatives aren’t just spiked with additives like stomach-irritating carrageenan, they’re typically low in protein and a concentrated source of sugar. (A combination that will leave your stomach rumbling!) An 8-ounce serving can easily carry as much of the sweet stuff as a half a can of soda, none of which is naturally occurring. Cow’s milk, on the other hand, gets all of its sweetness from naturally occurring lactose, a sugar present in milk. Trying to dial back on your intake of the white granular stuff? Don’t miss these 30 Easy Ways to Stop Eating So Much Sugar.
Eat This, Not That! has been after Coca-Cola’s chemical- and sugar-filled colas since our inception. Not only do they contribute to weight gain and obesity-related diseases like diabetes, their acidity is bad news for your digestive system and tooth enamel. The bad news keeps on coming: The caramel color in soda contains an artificially created phosphorus that can be bad for long-term bone health, cautions Isabel Smith, MS RD CDN, of Isabel Smith Nutrition. For more foods that can are bad news for your bones, check out our report 7 Foods That Weaken Your Bones—and stay far, far away!
Powdered Fruit Drinks
Tang, Kool-Aid, and other drink powders are little more than a mix of sugar and artificial coloring. If you wouldn’t pour food dye and cups of sugar straight into your mouth, you’re better off saying “no” to these waist-widening drinks.
Certain Protein Shakes
Chugging a protein shake can be an easy way to refuel after a workout, but make sure you’re not downing the wrong one. Many powders out there sneak in artificial sweeteners, chemical additives, and partially hydrogenated oils. Sift the good from the bad in our report on The Best And Worst Protein Powders.
How’s a double IPA made, you ask? Just as its name suggests, the ingredients that go into a regular IPA are doubled, resulting in a higher calorie and alcohol count for which you’re going to need these 25 Best Foods For A Hangover Cure.
The majority of these little shooters are made up of chemicals, one of which is sodium benzoate. In one study of the effects of sodium benzoate on living yeast cells, researchers found benzoate to be damaging to mitochondria, an important area of DNA. Eek! What’s more, these bad boys rely on waist-widening artificial sweeteners to achieve their sweet flavor. To amp up your energy the healthy way, stock your kitchen with these 23 Best Foods for Energy.
Fancy Coffee Drinks
In terms of sugar, a 12-ounce can of Coke = 16 Hershey Kisses. Think that’s bad? The majority of your favorite coffee drinks are far sweeter. Take Dunkin’s frozen french vanilla swirl coffee Coolatta, for example. Even if you request it with skim milk, it still packs 300 calories and 70 grams of sugar—in a small! Warm drinks are just as bad. McDonald’s McCafe mocha has 340 calories and 42 grams of the sweet stuff while Starbucks’ eggnog latte has 450 calories and 52 grams of sugar. And in case you were curious, that’s the equivalent of 16 mini candy canes! To see how even more specialty drinks stack up in terms of nutrition (so you know which ones to stay away from!), don’t miss our report 20 Coffee Drinks With More Sugar Than a Can of Coke.
You probably already know that slushies were sugar mines, but we bet you had no clue they’re often filled with mold! Totally gross, we know, yet totally true! According to numerous fast food and convenience shop workers, the machines that store and blend slushies are rarely—if ever—cleaned. “The amount of mold in those machines would crush your childhood into a pulp,” a former gas station worker admitted on Reddit. If the calorie and sky-high sugar counts weren’t enough to turn you off of the sips, maybe those bits of information, will. To whip up a homemade version at home, freeze, then blend watermelon chunks into a sweet and satisfying slushy. Looking for even more healthy-ish ways to satisfy your sweet tooth? Check out these 25 Nutritionist-Approved Ways to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth.
Busy mornings and grab-and-go breakfasts are practically synonymous—so it’s easy to see the appeal of store-bought smoothies. They seem like the best way to get what you crave in a pinch. But the timesaving drinks have a downside: compared to fresh-made drinks, most of them fall short on nutrition and are so calorie- and sugar-filled that you’d have to spend hours on the treadmill to burn them off. Play it safe by blending up one of these 56 Best Smoothie Recipes for Weight Loss, instead—all of them can be made in 5 minutes or less, compliments of Zero Belly Smoothies. Test panelists lose up to 16 pounds in 14 days!
Whoever invented the Gatorade Dunk—the tradition in which winning sports teams dump coolers of the stuff on their coaches—was really on to something. One scan of the nutrition label and it’s clear: the sports drink is better off seeping into the sidelines than your stomach. (Yes, even their newly reformulated ones.) Sure, it provides critical post-workout electrolytes, like sodium and potassium, but it also serves up a hearty helping of calories and sugar. In fact, there are 56 grams of the sweet stuff (which is more than a day’s worth) in a 32-ounce bottle. What’s more, the beverage is teeming with stomach-churning additives like wood rosin and artificial dyes. A better (and safer) way to replenish the electrolytes and water lost after a tough workout: pick up a fork and knife and dig into these 17 Most Hydrating Foods.
A long time ago, milkshakes had two ingredients: milk and ice cream. But as time went on, restaurants starting filling their shakes with everything from candy to chemicals, transforming them into potentially dangerous 1,000+ calorie concoctions! In fact, some of the lowest-cal milkshakes in restaurant land still have over 800 calories—in a small! If you want something cold and sweet, you’re better off indulging in a scoop or two of actual ice cream or making a chocolate- or peanut butter-filled smoothie.
Conventional Bottled Nutrition Shakes
Are there grab-and-go protein shakes that contain no artificial sweeteners, high-fructose corn syrup, or hydrogenated oils? Sure! (And you have find them in our report The 26 Best 7 Worst Grab-and-Go Protein Shakes.) But the bulk of them is bad news for your body—despite the fact that are they are advertised as being the exact opposite. If they’re not sugar mines, they’re doused with artificial sugar and likely colored with carcinogen-containing chemicals, too.
The water isn’t the problem here; it’s the BPA in the bottle. BPA is a hormone-mimicking chemical found in nearly all food packaging plastics, and it’s potentially bad news. According to some pools of research, the chemical may promote cancer and render people infertile. To stay hydrated on the go, buy a BPA-free refillable bottle. We’re big fans of S’well bottles, which come in a wide array of fashionable patterns and color pallets.