1. Juice Drinks
Labels like “juice drink” and “juice cocktail” are almost always a euphemism for brightly-colored sugar water. For a truly healthy drink, look for 100-percent juice, like orange juice, cranberry juice, oraloe vera juice. Nothing else.
2. Fancy Coffee Drinks
When blended with 2-percent milk and sugar, a large icy cup of Joe can contain up to 800 calories and 1/3 of the maximum recommended intake for artery-clogging saturated fat. And there’s a reason why it tastes so sweet: At 170 grams of sugar in a typical drink, you get more of a sugar shock than a caffeine buzz. Top it off with whipped cream and say hello to a waistline-wrecking treat.
3. Flavored Waters
Flavored and infused waters may deliver a few extra vitamins—along with added sugars. Next time you buy a bottle of water, check the label: If you see anything more than water and natural flavors, leave it on the shelf.
4. Diet Soda
Diet soda may have zero calories, but it also has zero nutrition. Plus, if you’re guzzling diet coke all day, there’s a good chance you’re not drinking the healthy drinks your body needs, particularly water and tea. One diet soda a day is fine, but if you’re downing five or six cans, you may be doing damage to your body.
5. Frozen Cocktails
When it comes to happy hour calorie traps, the mixers are the real culprits. Case in point: According to the USDA, a 16-ounce pina colada can clock in at a whopping 880 calories—that’s more than eight times the amount in a shot of rum.
6. Fruit Smoothies
Yes, fruit on its own is good for you, but a 32-ounce smoothie can pack as many as 700 calories with fewer than two grams of protein, thanks to the high sugar content. That’s like eating a whole pineapple, entire mango, and one cup each of blueberries and strawberries in a single sitting. Why is that bad? Calories from any food get stored away in your fat cells if you eat more than you can burn.
7. Sports Drinks
Ending your workout by guzzling a typical sport drink may set your weight-loss goals back. Many sports drinks on the market contain a mixture of natural and artificial sweeteners, plus a laundry list unpronounceable additives. If replenishing electrolytes is your goal, switch to zero-calorieSmartWater or Metroelectro.
8. Hard Liquor
Alcohol in moderation—one or two drinks a day—has been shown to raise HDL (good) cholesterol, boost bloodflow, and improve sugar metabolism. But when you ask for that third drink, your risk for obesity and slew of other health problems starts to climb. A March 2011 study from the American Cancer Society found that the risk of cancer death was 36 percent higher among people who drank heavily (three or more drinks each day) than those who drank in moderation or not at all.
Most store-bought versions are made from the same sweeteners used in soda, combined with preservatives and artificial color. At 100 calories per cup, and with the equivalent of six teaspoons of sugar and zero nutrients, you’re essentially drinking liquid candy. Definitely not refreshing.
10. Soft Drinks
It’s tough to find a single redeeming quality about soft drinks: They’re overloaded with sugar and provide empty calories without satisfying your hunger. In fact, soft drinks are the only food that has been directly linked to causing obesity. If you’re not willing to eliminate them from your diet entirely, consider one can of full-sugar soda as an occasional treat—the same way you would a candy bar.
11. Energy Drinks
When people think about “energy” drinks, they’re usually referring to products that contain caffeine. The problem is that most “energy drinks” are loaded with too much caffeine and sugar, so while they may give you a short-term burst of energy, you’ll ultimately crash and just want to zonk out. When you need a brain boost, you’re better off sipping green tea or snacking on a handful of walnuts.