America's Most Fattening 'Diet' Drinks

I was talking with my friend Dr. Travis Stork—host of TV's The Doctors—about his other gig, running the emergency room at Vanderbilt Medical Center. Though he educates millions about healthy living on TV, he comes up against some tough customers in the E.R. Like the woman who came in suffering complications from diabetes, and slurped from a 40-ounce soda as she described her symptoms! Clearly, some people still don’t realize just how responsible these drinks are for the ballooning of our waistlines. So much so, in fact, that one study that tracked the diets of more than 800 people found those who eliminated 100 liquid calories a day lost five times as much weight as those who cut 100 food calories. That means you’ll lose more weight by giving up soda than you will by passing on pizza. That’s great news for you, but really bad news for the soda industry—which depends on Big Gulps and the like to sweeten its bottom line (and expand yours).

So now the beverage industry is responding by casting their beverages in a new light. Today we hear of sweetened tea drinks brimming with antioxidants, 1,200-calorie smoothies that are "all natural" (so are sharks and hurricanes, by the way), and vitamin drinks that give you super-human strength. Not all of these drinks explicitly brand themselves “diet” drinks—the FDA would never allow that. But they are using clever marketing campaigns to convince us that they’re vastly superior to the sugary syrups of yore. Problem is, many of these fluid flab-makers are actually worse than the drinks they aim to replace! But the good news is, you can fight back—and lose up to 20 pounds annually, for starters, just by swearing off the soda and iced tea. Then, shed even more weight by avoiding these dangerous "diet" drinks, compliments of the latest research from Drink This, Not That!

#7: WORST 'HEALTHY' JUICE V8 Splash
V8 Splash Mango Peach (8 fl oz)
80 calories
0 g fat
18 g sugar
What could possibly be wrong with a juice made from mangoes and peaches? Well, only 10 percent of the liquid in this bottle comes from fruit, and much of that is actually sugar-loaded apple juice. The other 90 percent is a blend of water and high fructose corn syrup. Sounds remarkably similar to soda, doesn’t it?

Drink This Instead!
V8 Original Low Sodium Vegetable Juice (8 fl oz)
50 calories
0 g fat
8 g sugar

Bonus Tip: Salads are another surprisingly deceptive food. They look healthy, but often have more calories than fast food. Avoid these 20 salads at all costs—they're less healthy for you than a Whopper!

#6: WORST 'HEALTHY' TEASnapple Green Tea
Snapple Mango Green Tea Metabolism (17.5 oz)
140 calories
0 g fat
33 g sugar

This isn’t the highest-calorie green tea on the market, but it is the most shameless. See the word “metabolism” riding that blue banner across the bottle? That’s Snapple’s way of suggesting this tea will help you burn calories. And while it’s true that green tea carries metabolism-boosting antioxidants, there aren't nearly enough in the bottle to transform your body into an energy-burning inferno. What's more, this tea has more sugar than it has “green tea concentrate.” It also has more sugar than a Snicker’s bar. If you want to drop pounds, start by cutting the sweet stuff.

Drink This Instead!
Honest Tea Community Green Tea (16 fl oz)
34 calories
0 g fat
5 g sugars

#5: WORST 'HEALTHY' SODA7Up 
Antioxidant
Cherry 7Up Antioxidant (12 fl oz)  
150 calories
0 g fat
37.5 g sugar

If antioxidants had lawyers, they'd sue 7Up for libel. This is just a can of liquefied candy. The basic recipe is carbonated water, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial coloring. And the grand antioxidant load? A touch of citric acid—commonly added to soda for added bite—and 10 percent of your day’s vitamin E. Ten percent, that’s it! That’s less vitamin E than you’d find in a spoonful of sunflower seeds. (Get more instant weight loss tips by following me right here on Twitter.)

Drink This Instead!
7UP Plus Mixed Berry  (12 fl oz)
15 calories
0 g fat
2 g sugar

#4: WORST 'HEALTHY' MILKRice Dream
Rice Dream Carob Rice Drink (8 fl oz)
150 calories
2.5 g fat (0 g saturated)
26 g sugar

What more would you expect from a dairy alternative made from a nutritionally feeble starch like rice? Rice milk is made by blending brown rice with water and straining out the solids. That’s why, unlike regular milk, it carries almost no protein whatsoever. What this carton has instead is an extra dose of fat, and for that you can thank the vegetable oil that Rice Milk pumps into the carton. You’re better off going with low-fat chocolate milk or choosing sugar-free almond milk.

Drink This Instead!
Almond Breeze Unsweetened Chocolate
45 calories
3.5 g fat (0 g saturated)
0 g sugars

Bonus Tip: If the idea of rice milk sounds strange, wait till you see the terrors coming out of restaurant kitchens across America. We found a plate of French toast that comes stuffed with both ice cream and cream cheese—for breakfast! Check out the worst offenders right here: Shocking New Food Creations of 2010.  

#3: WORST 'HEALTHY' SHAKEBoost Plus
Boost Chocolate Plus (8 fl oz)
360 calories
14 g fat (1.5 g saturated)
14 g protein
0 g fiber
24 g sugar

The 14 grams of protein in this bottle are a nice touch, but they don’t justify the nearly 100 calories of pure sugar. That’s more sugar than you’d find in a Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar. If you’re looking for an on-the-go meal replacement, find one that doesn’t come with dessert already stuffed in the bottle. Our favorite is below. It packs in a sturdy cache of nutrients, 3 grams of fiber, and an equally impressive shot of muscle-building protein.

Drink This Instead!
Atkins Advantage Milk Chocolate Delight
160 calories
10 g fat (3.5 g saturated)
15 g protein
3 g fiber
1 g sugar

#2: WORST 'HEALTHY' SUPERMARKET SMOOTHIEBoost Plus
Naked Protein Zone Juice Smoothie (15.2 oz)
418 calories
3.5 g fat (2 g saturated)
53 g sugars
30.5 g protein

Protein is often what sets a stomach-filling smoothie apart from a fruit-flavored blood-sugar spike—but does it justify slurping down more calories than you’d find in a Quarter Pounder? No. Especially considering the fact that this bottle goes overboard with protein (while loading you up with 13 spoonfulls of sugar). One study pinned the ideal post-workout protein load at 20 grams. Anything beyond that is just extra calories.

Drink This Instead!
Odwalla Strawberry Protein Monster (15.2 oz bottle)
300 calories
6 g fat (1 g saturated)
33 g sugars
25 g protein

Bonus Tip: The healthier your eating (and drinking) habits, the less you have to worry about counting calories. Our list of the 25 Best Nutrition Secrets Ever will help you start dropping pounds fast. The best part: You'll never have to diet again!

#1: WORST 'HEALTHY' RESTAURANT SMOOTHIEBoost Plus
Smoothie King Cranberry Supreme (40 oz)
1,108 calories
2 g fat (0 g satureated)
8 g protein
192 g sugar

Smoothie King has different menus to meet different dietary goals, so you’d expect to find this one listed on the “Indulge” or “Build Up" menus. But no. Instead, Smoothie King identifies it as a “Stay Healthy” smoothie. But here’s the truth: Unless you’re on the verge of starving to death, taking in this many calories is the opposite of staying healthy. Plus, the barrel-sized cup in which Smoothie King serves it packs in nearly as much sugar as an entire jar of Nutella! That ain't right. Want to stay healthy? Find a leaner smoothie and stick to reasonable serving sizes.

Drink This Instead!
Blueberry Heaven (20 oz)
325 calories
1 g fat (0 g saturated)
7 g protein
64 g sugar

Now that you've seen our list of healthy beverages that aren't, check out the food equivalent: 25 "healthy" foods that are actually terrible for you. How many have you seen on your plate in the past? We bet quite a few.

------------

FOLLOW DAVE ZINCZENKO ON TWITTER and get FREE live-better secrets every day!

Sign up for the free Eat This, Not That! newsletter.

Check out these cutting-edge guides to fast and easy weight loss, the brand-new Men’s Health Big Book of Exercises and Women’s Health Big Book of Exercises.

Get more nutrition, health, and fitness secrets from Men's Health: Subscribe today with this special offer and save 50% off the cover price.



Cook This, Not That! Get the New Book!
   


For Kids! Supermarket Guides

 

LEAVE YOUR COMMENT

Follow Yahoo Health on and become a fan on

Follow @YahooHealth on