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America’s Best & Worst “Health” Drinks

Posted on: May 26, 2010


Men's Health By David Zinczenko, with Matt Goulding – Posted on Mon, May 24, 2010, 12:01 pm PDT

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Whoever invented bottled water was a genius. Think about it: They took a widely available and nearly free commodity, packaged it nice and pretty, and sold it for hundreds of times more than what the public version costs. And how did they do it? Savvy marketing. Water bottle labels evoke images of freshness and purity that you just don’t get from a running tap. Don’t be fooled, though. About a quarter of bottled water actually comes from municipal sources.

When it comes to your health, bottled water is a fine choice. Water that meets minimum safety standards is good for you, regardless of the source. But the rest of the beverages in the supermarket that boast equally idyllic sounding health benefits might not be. Over the past three years, the Eat This, Not That! book series has exposed hundreds of food frauds. And now, our latest book, Drink This, Not That!, does the same for beverages.

What I learned, above all: 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–and that’s a major factor in our nation’s obesity epidemic. 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, I’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 oz)
150 calories
0 g fat
33 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!
Smartwater
0 calories
0 g sugars

Food manufacturers are masters in the art of effortless weight gain. (Which is why my mission with Eat This, Not That! is to make effortless weight LOSS a reality for you!)  Click here to discover the 30 “Healthy” Foods that Aren’t. You’ll be shocked by the pounds of fat you may unwittingly gain while thinking that you’re eating healthy.

Worst Bottled Tea
SoBe Green Tea (1 bottle, 20 fl oz)
240 calories
0 g fat
61 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 Tea (1 bottle, 16 fl oz)
60 calories
0 g fat
16 g sugars

(Everything you need to know about cereal is right here: America’s Best and Worst Cereals. Keep the sugar down and the fiber up for a perfect start to your day.)


Worst Meal Replacement Drink

Right Size Skini Vanilli (14 fl oz bottle)
263 calories
5.5 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 Vanilla (11 fl oz can)
180 calories
6 g fat (1.5 g saturated)
18 g sugars

Discover more loveable liquids by browsing through our Best Beers and Best Coffee Drinks slideshows. It’ll help you start–and end–your days in perfect shape.

Worst Functional Beverage
Arizona Rx Energy (1 can, 23 fl oz)
345 calories
0 g fat
83 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 Tea (1 bottle, 20 fl oz)
25 calories
0 g fat
8 g sugars

Worst Frozen Fruit Drink
Krispy Kreme Lemon Sherbet Chiller (20 fl oz)
980 calories
40 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 Chiller (20 fl oz)
290 calories
0 g fat
71 g sugars

Worst “Health” Drink in America
Smoothie King Peanut Power Plus Grape (large, 40 fl oz)
1,498 calories
44 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 Banana (small, 20 fl oz)
322 calories
9 g fat (1 g saturated)
23 g sugars

And don’t forget, you can still melt those 18 pounds of belly fat–without giving up your favorite foods. You just need to make smart substitutions wherever you are. For starters, avoid everything on this list: The 20 Worst Restaurant Foods in America. You’ll lose weight faster than ever—again, without ever dieting again. That’s the Eat This, Not That! mission.

Like this story or have another nutrition secret? Please share it with others.

————

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

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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.

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For Kids!                  Supermarket Guide

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