Sweetened beverages

Many sweetened drinks are high in calories and can cause weight gain, even in active people. If you feel like drinking something sweet, choose a beverage that is made with artificial (man-made) sweeteners.

Sweetened Drinks

Drinking a lot of many beverages can lead to gaining extra pounds. Even though they are just liquid, these drinks can add a lot of calories to your diet. Some examples are:

  • A 16-ounce latte with whole milk has 265 calories
  • A 20-ounce bottle of non-diet soda has 227 calories
  • A 16-ounce glass of sweetened ice tea has 180 calories
  • A 16-ounce-Hawaiian punch has 240 calories
  • A 16-ounce Ocean Spray Cran-Apple juice has 320 calories
  • A 16-ounce-sports drink has 140 calories

Read the ingredients and watch out for drinks that are high in sugar. Sugar can go by many names, including:

  • Corn syrup
  • Dextrose
  • Fructose
  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Syrup

How About Fruit Juice?

Sure, juices contain many important vitamins and other nutrients. But drinking too much juice can by unhealthy, and lead to weight gain.

A 12-ounce serving of orange juice has about 170 calories. If you are already getting enough calories and nutrients from the other foods you eat, an extra 170 calories a day can add up to 12 - 15 pounds a year.

If you like to drink juice, consider diluting it with water.

Watch out for Those Coffee Drinks!

Coffee drinks you have on the way to work and during coffee breaks can add plenty of extra calories, especially if you buy ones that have flavored syrups, whipped cream, or half-and-half added. They can cause major weight gain.

All of these examples are for 16-ounce drinks. You can buy these drinks in smaller and larger sizes, too:

  • A flavored Frappuccino has more than 250 calories. With whipped cream, it has over 400 calories.
  • A nonfat mocha has 220 calories. With whipped cream, it has 330 calories.
  • A mocha made with whole milk and whipped cream has 400 calories.
  • A latte made with nonfat milk has 150 calories. With 1 flavor added, it has 220 calories.
  • A latte made with whole milk has 260 calories. With 1 flavor added, it has 280 calories.
  • A hot chocolate made with 2% milk has 300 calories. With whipped cream added, it has 370 calories.

Healthier Coffee Choices

Order regular coffee and add only nonfat or 2% milk. Use a sugar substitute if you like your coffee sweet.

If you have a special coffee drink now and then, following these tips will cut down on the calories:

  • Order the smallest size available. A small (12-ounce) latte made with skim milk has 125 calories.
  • Skip the whipped cream from a mocha or hot chocolate and save 100 calories.
  • Flavoring adds about 50 calories. Skip it if you can, or ask the server to use only half as much.

What You Could Drink Instead

Choose drinks that have 5 calories or fewer per serving.

Some choices that have 0 calories are:

  • Water
  • Diet soda
  • Sparkling water with natural flavors, such as lemon, lime, berry, and others.

Update Date: 10/28/2012

Updated by: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.


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