Rising temperatures and summery drinks are as natural a pair as margaritas and salt. What's not so natural are the calorie-counts of these gut-busting concoctions. Turns out, just 300 liquid calories a day increase the risk of weight gain and diabetes -- and many summer sippers have so much more! Kind of makes us wish we hadn't sampled our way through this top 10 line-up, all in the name of research. Which drinks are the worst offenders? Check out the sugar-load, starting on the next page.
Eating fruit is a great way to keep pounds at bay. Nutritionally packed and full of fiber, it leaves us fuller, longer. Unless it's ingested through a straw, that is. A 30-ounce Jamba Juice Strawberries Wild Smoothie has 510 calories (we could have eaten an entire meal instead!) Even worse, Dairy Queen's large Hawaiian Blizzard with pineapple contains 820 calories. We can just imagine the top-secret laboratory where food scientists must have worked overtime to figure out how to make fruit that bad for us!
Hey, Starbucks, we love your Venti (24 ounce) Double Chocolaty Chip Frappuccino with whip, but does it have to be so bad for us? With a whopping 520 calories, 23 grams fat and 68 grams sugar, we'll have to spend a 40-hour week at the gym. Right after we stop at the dentist. The next time we go to Starbucks, we'll opt for a 16-ounce Iced Skinny Vanilla Latte because it's only 110 calories.
We're not too proud to admit it: We love mega-margaritas served in theme glasses big enough to house beta fish. But then we figured out why our cute summer shorts won't button anymore. A paltry 8-ounce serving contains 740 calories. And our mega-glass is easily double that amount. We could stop ordering it, but we'll probably just lighten the order. We'll trade the margarita's syrupy sweetener for tequila, Grand Marnier, lime and sweet and sour mix alone. We'll add a packet of no-calorie sweetener after it's served. Like we said, we're not too proud.
Notice we didn't say "juice." There's little, if any, relationship to actual fruit in these bottle fruit blends. Take Arizona's Kiwi Strawberry, for example. A 23.5-ounce can of this concoction (which contains only a measly 5 percent juice) is mostly sugar water. Drink this, and you'll be gulping down 360 empty calories and 84 grams of sugar. And at 99 cents a pop, you can damage your waistline for less than a buck -- which is not really a bargain, any way you slice it.
Summer and sweet tea go together like peas and carrots. Only sweeter. And easier to drink through a straw. So why-oh-why, Nestea, did you have to make your 20-ounce bottle of tea a 200-calorie affair? This goes for you, too, McDonald's. Your medium (21-ounce) cup of sweet tea has 210 calories. We could've eaten two Fudgsicle bars for that. Now, we'll have to pull weeds in the garden for nearly an hour to burn that off. Next time, we'll just add two teaspoons sugar (which equals 32 calories) to unsweetened tea we brew ourselves and pour over ice.
Forget the Big Gulp, 7-Eleven's Double Gulp is a 64-ounce (almost 2 liters!) answer to summer's oppressive heat. But chugging this mobile storage tank will add about 600 calories to your day (even more if you opt for a Double Gulp 1,200-calorie Dr. Pepper Slurpee). On the other hand, watch us do the happy dance if we find one of the few 7-Eleven swirling frozen concoctions we can absolutely love: a Crystal Light Peach Mango Fusion Slurpee with just 60 calories per 12 ounces. Summer, here we come!
If you're training for a marathon, go ahead and reach for a sports drink. As for the rest of us, it's overkill. We just don't need the extra calories, sugar and sodium. Gatorade Lemon-Lime, for example, packs 125 calories into a 20-ounce bottle. A 32-ounce PowerAde has 200 calories. That would completely negate our two-mile walk. And don't even get us started on "energy" drinks. It takes about two minutes to guzzle a 16-ounce can of original Rockstar, but we pay a high price: 280 calories and 62 grams of sugar, just for starters.
The mudslide is like drinking dessert -- something that seems oh-so-right when it's hot outside. It's admittedly hard to pass up on this sweet drink, with its combination of chocolate and coffee flavors, splashed with cream, a kick of vodka and poured over ice. Unless you're watching your waistline, that is. A mudslide, with its mix of Kahlua, Irish cream liqueur, cream and vodka packs nearly 500 calories into a single 8-ounce serving. Some mix-masters take it up a notch by adding a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Now that's a serious diet disaster.
There's nothing like a Piña Colada to transport us (at least in our minds) to azure waves fringed by white sand. In our fantasy, this island is deserted, save a hammock and handsome sea captain. Unfortunately, the whopping 625 to 645 calories in a Piña Colada's single serving brings us right back to reality. In addition to equal parts light rum, coconut milk and crushed pineapple, most Piña Coladas are made with a sugary pre-mixed syrup concoction. Just think, we could've splurged on a Big Mac for only 540 calories.
No wonder staying in swimsuit-shape in the summer is so complicated. The Cold Stone Creamery PB&C shake has a nice, fattening combination of chocolate ice cream, milk and peanut butter. And the Gotta Have It size (24-ounces) packs an astonishing 2,010 calories. Yep, about our entire day's allowance -- and most of it in the form of 153 grams of sugar and 131 grams of fat. That's 202 percent of our daily fat requirement. Buh-bye, bikini. Cold Stone Creamery also offers something called their "sinless shakes" but at calorie counts ranging from 500 to 900, it still sounds like sinning to us.
Here is a delightful dish for a Fall harvest dinner party; Jim Deliman's carrot saffron soup recipe. Learn how to make Jim Deliman's carrot saffron soup.
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- McDonald's. "Nutrition." (April 3, 2011) http://nutrition.mcdonalds.com/nutritionexchange/nutritionfacts.pdf
- Mead, Nicole DeCoursy. "Sip These Summer Drinks, Save Calories." (April 3, 2011) RedbookMag.com. http://www.redbookmag.com/health-wellness/advice/best-summer-drinks
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- Men's Health. "The Worst Beverages in the Supermarket: Worst Iced Tea." (April 3, 2011) http://eatthis.menshealth.com/node/98443
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- Prevention. "Best and Worst Summer Cocktails." (April 3, 2011) Prevention.com. http://www.prevention.com/cocktails/index.html
- Starbucks. "Double Chocolaty Chip Frappuccino Blended Beverage." (April 3, 2011) Starbucks.com. http://www.starbucks.com/menu/drinks/frappuccino-blended-beverages/double-chocolaty-chip-frappuccino-blended-creme#>
- Turner, Adreinne. "Worst Commercial Beverages." (April 3, 2011) AskMen.com. http://www.askmen.com/sports/foodcourt_150/154_eating_well.html
- Zinczenko, David. "America's Unhealthiest Drinks Exposed." May 19, 2008. (April 3, 2011) Yahoo.net. http://health.yahoo.net/experts/eatthis/americas-unhealthiest-drinks-exposed/