Whether it’s “fresh squeezed” or pasteurized and from a carton, juice is a quick way to add calories. How? One cup of orange juice can have as many calories as six oranges (whoa!), as well as sugar. While not all juice is created equal (i.e. fresh squeezed is better than concentrate), an eight ounce glass can set you back about 120 to 150 calories. Instead: Have a piece of fruit with breakfast — the pulp will help fill you up and give you fiber — and drink water with a slice of citrus.
2. SUGARY COFFEE DRINKS
Frappuccino, Dunkaccino, mochaccino: They’re all bursting with sugar and calories — up to 1,000 of them. The only waistline-friendly ‘cino worth having is a cappuccino (just espresso and milk). So unless you’re actively making a coffee beverage your dessert, avoid sugary syrups, whipped toppings, chocolate shavings, and caramel “drizzles.” Plus, though they contain caffeine, you’ll feel an extra crash and burn once the sugar high wears off.
Just. No. Dark cola may already be on your “don’t drink” list. But clear, lemon-lime sodas, tonic water, and ginger ale aren’t OK either. Any 16-ounce one has about 13 teaspoons of sugar, which is more than your recommended intake in a whole day. (The American Heart Association recommends women should have no more than six teaspoons.) Sure, a ginger ale when your tummy aches or cola when it’s calling your name won’t kill you — just don’t make a habit out of it.
4. SWEETENED NUT MILKS
I love a good plant-based milk. (I just discovered unsweetened cashew milk — yum!) But there’s a problem with coconut, almond, hemp, rice, hazelnut, and et al: Unless you buy the unsweetened version, you’re just heaping on extra sugar. And, since plant-based milks are lower in protein than animal or soy-milk, you’re not gaining much good stuff, either. So grab one that says unsweetened on the label, and sip your milk in its purest form.
5. PREMIXED ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES
Premixed cocktails are what I like to call a hangover in a bottle. (Margaritas, daquiris, sour-mix, and pina coladas, I’m looking at you.) Not only do they often include icky preservatives, the added sugar from mixers can make you super thirsty by expediting the dehydration that already happens when you drink booze. Skip the mixers and make your own margs from scratch. Or try my simple favorite: Your spirit-of-choice on the rocks or with club soda.
6. PROTEIN SHAKES
Are you an Olympic athlete? If the answer is yes, you can have a pre-made protein shake — only when you’re in a pinch! — to meet your energy needs. If you’re not, then skip these. Muscle milks and powdered shakes tend to be loaded with sugar and unnecessary nutrients. (And can we agree they taste like Elmer’s glue?) A good rule of thumb: Drink your water, eat your protein. Traditional sources like milk, yogurt, eggs, seafood, chicken, and leaf beef are always a better bet.
7. SPORTS DRINKS
See last slide: if you’re not a high-performance athlete, you don’t need an electrolyte replacement drink to help you stay fueled and at the top of your game. Your half hour on the elliptical does not warrant a 24 ounce Gatorade-guzzle before you hit the showers. These drinks are designed to help athletes stay energized and appropriately hydrated from the right balance of readily available carbs (sugar) and replete minerals (sodium, potassium, and chloride). They’ll add calories, and if you have a sensitive tummy, they may also make you a little nauseous. Stick with water.
8. PRE-BOTTLED SMOOTHIES
Even if they claim to have “no sugar added,” these fall into the junk-that’s-perceived-as-health-food category. They get away with the claim by using sugar in the form of fruit puree, which adds calories in addition to sweetness. Skip these and make smoothies at home from frozen fruit, leafy greens, ice, Greek yogurt, and spices.
9. SWEETENED ICED TEA
If it’s pre-sweetened, it’s not for you. Period. You’re better off ordering an unsweetened version and adding a teaspoon (or two) of sugar on your own for sweetness. That way, you can control how much you add and cut the total sugar content by more than half.
10. ‘SNEAKY’ SPARKLING WATERS
Check labels for artificial sweeteners (aspartame, acesulfame-K, sucralose, saccharin are a few) on “water” labels. While they may not be harmful to your health, not all flavored water was created equal. It’s better to just treat yourself to the occasional Diet Coke.