The Worst Shakes in America

We all need a little indulgence now and then. Heck, I'm the author of Eat This, Not That!, but I’m not above ducking into the local ice cream shop on my way home from dinner for dessert. An ice cream shake, after all, shouldn’t be much more than a glass of milk with some ice cream blended together.

Problem is, today’s food marketers don’t just shake their shakes: They slap them around, toss ’em up against a wall, smack them upside the head, and abuse them in just about every way imaginable until these tasty but modest concoctions become swollen, angry monsters capable of unleashing thousands of calories on your belly in just minutes. Today’s blended drinks come with heaping doses of sugar and fat that neither Baskin nor Robbins could have imagined when they founded their establishment. If you started a shake shop today, with some of the recipes out there, you could call it only one thing: Unfriendly’s.

Still, like I said, you gotta indulge every once in a while. Just make sure your indulgences aren’t one of these worst milk shakes in America.

A&W Root Beer FreezeWORST FREEZE
A&W Root Beer Freeze (large, 32 oz)
820 calories
18 g fat (11 g saturated, 1 g trans)
400 g sodium
136 g sugars

This beverage is made with nothing but root beer and soft serve ice cream—the exact duo that constitute A&W's root beer float. So ask yourself: Is it worth the extra 500 calories to have it blended and super-sized? Didn’t think so. (Great tip, right? Get instant weight-loss secrets every day when you follow me on Twitter.)

Drink This Instead!
A&W Root Beer Float (small, 16 fl oz)
330 calories
5 g fat (3 g saturated)
100 mg sodium
57 g sugars

Baskin-Robbins FloatWORST FLOAT
Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream Soda (vanilla ice cream and cola; large, 28.6 fl oz)
960 calories
40 g fat (25 g saturated, 1.5 g trans)
260 mg sodium
136 g sugars

This float has as much sugar in it as about 10 Fudgsicles. That’s outrageous, and here’s why: Done right, an ice cream float can be a decent route to indulgence (take the example from A&W above). In fact, order it with diet soda, and it'll often drop below 200 calories. So why can’t Baskin-Robbins make even a small float with fewer than 470 calories? The chain seems to approach the art of beverage-crafting as a challenge to squeeze in as much fat and sugar as possible. Whatever you order, plan on splitting it with a friend.

Drink This Instead!
Ice Cream Float (vanilla ice cream and root beer; small, 16.9 fl oz)
470 calories
20 g fat (13 g saturated, 0.5 g trans)
68 g sugars

Bonus tip:  Take a look at what’s being whipped up in the labs of the mad fast-food scientists: The Scariest Food Creations of 2010. Be afraid—be very afraid!

McDonald's Triple Thick ShakeWORST DRIVE-THRU SHAKE 
McDonald’s Triple Thick Chocolate Shake (large, 32 fl oz)
1,160 calories
27 g fat (16 g saturated, 2 g trans)
168 g sugars

There are very few milk shakes in America worthy of your hard-earned calories, but few will punish you as thoroughly as this Mickey-D’s drive-thru disaster. Not only does it have more than half your day’s caloric and saturated fat allotment and more sugar than you’d find in Willy Wonka’s candy lab (the equivalent of 13 McDonald’s Baked Hot Apple Pies—or many of these items on our list of The Most Sugar-Packed Foods in America), but Ronald even finds a way to sneak in a full day of cholesterol-spiking trans fat. The scariest part about this drink is that it’s most likely America’s most popular milk shake. Order the hot fudge sundae instead.

Drink This Instead!
Hot Fudge Sundae (small, 6.3 oz)
330 calories
10 g fat (7 g saturated)
48 g sugars

Dairy Queen Malt ShakeWORST MALT
Dairy Queen Hot Fudge Malt Shake (large)
1,390 calories
45 g fat (32 g saturated, 1.5 g trans)
720 mg sodium
170 g sugars

The occasional small milk shake is a forgivable indulgence. But even forgiveness has limitations—this shake has 150% of your day’s saturated fat and more sugar than two entire pints of Ben & Jerry’s Vanilla Ice Cream. Choose the Banana Shake (and make it a small) instead. It’s the lightest shake on DQ’s menu.

Drink This Instead!
Banana Shake (small)
450 calories
14 g fat (9 g saturated, 0.5 g trans)
55 g sugars

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WORST FRUITY SHAKESmoothie King Peanut Power Plus Strawberry
Smoothie King Peanut Power Plus Strawberry (large, 40 oz)
1,398 calories
44 g fat (8 g saturated)
188 g sugars

The goal with this smoothie is to replicate the flavor of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. That would be fine if it weren’t for the fact that Smoothie King’s PB&J comes laced with about 400 calories of added sugars. Skip the peanut butter portion of this concoction altogether and order a Strawberry Shredder instead. It’s fortified with L-carnitine, a derivative of the amino acid lysine that helps metabolize fats for energy; and chromium, a mineral that aids in that process while working to maintain a smooth ride for your blood sugar. Oh, and it’ll save you over 1,000 calories in one cup.

Drink This Instead!
The Strawberry Shredder (small, 20 oz)
356 calories
1 g fat (0 g saturated)
41 g sugars

Bonus Tip: To see more proof of how wayward beverages can utterly destroy your diet, check out the 20 Worst Drinks in America. Many of these drinks contain more than a day's worth of calories, sugar and fat!

Cold Stone PB&C shake (Gotta Have It size)
2,010 calories
131 g fat (68 g saturated, 2.5 g trans)
880 mg sodium
153 g sugars

There were dozens of contenders in line for the dishonorable distinction of Worst Drink in America, but Cold Stone’s PB&C shake is the only drink in America to stretch across the 2,000-calorie mark. The combination of peanut butter—good in small amounts, horrendous when liquefied in bathtub-size quantities—and chocolate ice cream outpaces even the worst cookie- and candy-strewn shakes that clutter Cold Stone’s embarrassing shake menu. Suck this thing down and you’ve just blasted away a day’s worth of calories, more than 3 days’ worth of saturated fat, and almost as much sugar as an entire 15-ounce box of Chewy Chips Ahoy! Cookies.

Drink This Instead!
Sinless Strawberry Bananza Smoothie (Love It size)
220 calories
1.5 g fat (0 g saturated)
34 g sugars

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