10 Surprising Empty-Calorie Drinks You Should Avoid (Slideshow)

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You know that sugary sodas are bad for you, but what about these sneakier beverages?
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For years it was common knowledge that skim milk was a better dairy option than higher calorie whole milk. Lately, however, researchers aren’t so sure. A recent study showed that children who drank skim milk tended to be heavier than children who drank 2% or higher. One reason could be that skim milk simply isn’t as filling as its higher fat counterpart.


Skim Milk

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For years it was common knowledge that skim milk was a better dairy option than higher calorie whole milk. Lately, however, researchers aren’t so sure. A recent study showed that children who drank skim milk tended to be heavier than children who drank 2% or higher. One reason could be that skim milk simply isn’t as filling as its higher fat counterpart.


Bottled Orange Juice

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While orange juice commercials would have you believe a glass of not-from-concentrate juice is just as healthy as eating a ripe orange, that’s just not the case. Thanks to flavor packs and processing, most grocery store juice has as much sugar as a soda and not many of the nutrients found in fresh fruit. 

Flavored Water

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It’s no secret that we could all stand to drink a little more water, and flavored water bills itself as a tastier way to stay healthy. However, many flavored waters have astonishing amounts of sugar. For example, on bottle of the misnamed Vitamin Water has about 30 grams of sugar, as much as three doughnuts! 

Canned or Bottled Tea

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Whether it’s green, white, or black, tea is super in right now. But if you’re turning to tea to cut out calories, read the label carefully before you drink. Those giant canned teas you can find at any corner store often contain double the calories of a can of soda. 

Most Store-Bought Smoothies

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Smoothies sound so healthy! What could be better for you than a blend of yogurt and fresh fruit, right? The truth is, some smoothies simply try to do too much, packing in five or six different fruits, not to mention thickeners like peanut butter. All that adds up to a lot of calories and sugar, and while health experts agree that smoothies definitely have more nutrients than soda, they don’t necessarily have fewer calories. 

Bottled Coffee Drinks

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Those teeny little Starbucks bottles in the corner store cooler can seem like a quick pick-me-up on a hot day, but you’re much better off getting a plain iced coffee. Just one 9.5-ounce bottle has 180 calories. 

Oversized Energy Drinks

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When you ultra-tired, a giant energy drinks seems like just the ticket. But be careful. One of those huge cans of Rockstar energy drink has 280 calories and 62 grams of sugar. If you read the can closely, you’ll see that one serving is only half a can, but who really drinks half an energy drink? To avoid all those extra calories (and the horrible sugar crash), you’re better off choosing a sugar-free option. 

Low-Fat Bottled Chocolate Milk

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Sorry, but milk makes the list again. It can be hard to get kids to drink their milk, but you’re probably going to need to find a way that doesn’t involve chocolate. Just one 8-ounce glass of 1% fat chocolate milk has 158 calories, more than an 8-ounce can of Coke. 

Juice “Cocktail”

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Any time your juice is called a “cocktail,” you can guarantee the mixer is sugar. There are 30 grams of sugar in a single 8-ounce glass of cranberry juice cocktail, the same amount found in a full-size Hershey bar. 

Sports Drinks

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Listen, unless you’re strenuously exercising for over an hour, plain old water is the best way to hydrate after a workout. Sports drinks are only necessary for replacing electrolytes after long-term, endurance-based physical activity. After thirty minutes on the treadmill, all they’ll do is replenish the calories you just burned.