Thursday, July 8, 2010

America’s Best and Worst “Health” Drinks

By Men's Health staff

When you think about the causes of America's obesity epidemic, you likely think about our dependence on fast food restaurants and microwaveable and heavily processed junk food. But one factor that many people overlook is the liquid calories we consume. Simply put, what we drink is making us fat. We're consuming at least a quarter of our daily calories in liquid form--more than 450 calories a day. Watching what you drink is just as important, if not more so, than watching what you eat, especially if you're trying to shed belly fat. The trick, as always, is to distinguish between healthful drinks, and healthful sounding drinks. Here, we’ve listed the 6 worst “health” drinks in America. Steer clear of these bloating beverages and drink their healthiest alternatives instead. You can lose up to two pounds a week!

Worst Water: Snapple Agave Melon Antioxidant Water 1 bottle, 20 fl oz150 calories0 g fat33 g sugars (8 teaspoons of the stuff!)

Sugar Equivalent: 2 Good Humor Chocolate Éclair Bars

While “Worst Water” may sound like an oxymoron, the devious minds in the bottled beverage industry have even found a way to besmirch the sterling reputation of the world’s most essential compound. Sure, you may get a few extra vitamins, but ultimately, you’re paying a premium price for gussied-up sugar water. Next time you buy a bottle of water, check the recipe: You want two parts hydrogen, one part oxygen, and very little else.

Drink This Instead: Smartwater0 calories0 g sugars
Worst Bottled Tea: SoBe Green Tea1 bottle, 20 fl oz240 calories0 g fat61 g sugars (15 teaspoons of the stuff!)
Sugar Equivalent: 4 slices Sara Lee Cherry Pie

Leave it to SoBe to take an otherwise healthy bottle of tea and inject it with enough sugar to turn it into dessert. The Pepsi-owned company’s flagship line, composed of 11 flavors with names like “Nirvana” and “Cranberry Grapefruit Elixir” is marketed to give consumers the impression that it can cleanse the body, mind, and spirit. Don’t be fooled. Just like this bottle of green tea, all of these beverages are made with two primary ingredients: water and sugar.

Drink This Instead: Honest Tea Green Dragon Tea1 bottle, 16 fl oz60 calories0 g fat16 g sugars
Worst Meal Replacement Drink: Right Size Skini Vanilli14 fl oz bottle263 calories5.5 g fat (2.5 g saturated)30 g sugars

The Skinni sell is hard to swallow when it comes with as much sugar as two scoops of Breyers vanilla ice cream. Whether it’s weight loss, appetite control, or muscle growth you seek, look for shakes high in protein and fiber and low in sugar, like the Slim-Fast! French Vanilla. The classic weight-loss shake curbs hunger with a respectable 10 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber.

Drink This Instead: Slim-Fast! French Vanilla11 fl oz can180 calories6 g fat (1.5 g saturated)18 g sugars
Worst Functional Beverage: Arizona Rx Energy1 can, 23 fl oz345 calories0 g fat83 g sugars (21 teaspoons of the stuff!)

Sugar Equivalent: 6 Cinnamon Roll Pop-Tarts

Obviously Arizona took great pains in making sure this can came out looking like something you’d find in a pharmacy. But if your pharmacist ever tries to sell you this much sugar, he should have his license revoked. And if it’s energy you’re after, this isn’t your best vehicle. Caffeine is the only compound in the bottle that’s been proven to provide energy, and the amount found within is about what you'd get from a weak cup of coffee.

Drink This Instead: Glaceau Vitamin Water 10 Revitalize Green Tea1 bottle, 20 fl oz25 calories0 g fat8 g sugars
Worst Frozen Fruit Drink: Krispy Kreme Lemon Sherbet Chiller20 fl oz980 calories40 g fat (36 g saturated)115 g sugars (29 teaspoons of the stuff!)

Sugar Equivalent: 16 medium-size chocolate eclairs

Imagine taking a regular can of soda, pouring in 18 extra teaspoons of sugar, and then swirling in half a cup of heavy cream. Nutritionally speaking, that’s exactly what this is, which is how it manages to marry nearly two days’ worth of saturated fat with enough sugar to leave you with a serious sucrose hangover. Do your heart a favor and avoid any of Krispy Kreme’s “Kremey” beverages. The basic Chillers aren’t the safest of sippables either, but they’ll save you up to 880 calories.

Drink This Instead: Very Berry Chiller20 fl oz290 calories0 g fat71 g sugars
Worst “Health” Drink in America: Smoothie King Peanut Power Plus GrapeLarge, 40 fl oz1,498 calories44 g fat (8 g saturated)214 g sugars (a mind-blowing 54 teaspoons' worth!)

Sugar Equivalent: 20 Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

If Smoothie King wants someone to blame for landing this high on our worst beverages roundup (and truth be told, its entire menu is riddled with contenders), the chain should point the smoothie straw at whichever executive came up with the cup-sizing structure. Sending someone out the door with a 40-ounce cup? Who really needs a third of a gallon of sweetened peanut butter blended with grape juice, milk, and bananas? Sugar-and-fat-loaded smoothies like this should be served from 12-ounce cups, not mini kegs.

Drink This Instead: High Protein BananaSmall, 20 fl oz322 calories9 g fat (1 g saturated)23 g sugars

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