Are Your Beverages Healthy? 4 Drinks to Avoid

Watching your food intake and counting the calories in your meals is easy, but we often forget about the calories in the beverages we consume. In fact, many people seem to believe that the sugar and calories in beverages “don’t count” towards their recommended daily intake.

Did you know that our bodies don’t detect the calories in liquids the same way as they do solids? That makes it easier for us to down drinks without a second thought about how much weight we’re adding to our waistlines. And even worse, when people drink sugary, hi-cal beverages, they often end up eating more solid calories as well since liquids don’t suppress hunger and satisfy us like solid foods do. Today I’m going to talk about a few drinks many of us consume daily that could be adding unwanted pounds to our waistlines every year.

Espresso/Coffee Drinks

Close up of strawberry frappucino

Image via Arnaud de Mouhy, Flickr

Coffee in itself isn’t bad for you. It’s when you order the extra large, 600-calorie caramel macchiato that coffee becomes a problem. To make your coffee drinks healthier, go for skim or 1% milk instead of 2% or whole, and don’t load it up with sugary flavorings and sweeteners. Forego the whipped cream and chocolate syrup. Try to keep it as close to straight coffee as possible — it’s all the fixings and toppings that make coffee bad! The average sugary beverage at Starbucks can contain anywhere from 200 to 600 calories! Those calories are easy to avoid if you order a simple black coffee with some reduced/low fat milk or creamer.

Fruit Juice

Orange juice with orange slice

Image credit: placbo, Flickr

I know what you’re thinking — fruit juice is healthy. It’s not bad for you by any means, but you might as well just opt for the whole fruit since juice contains almost twice the calories and sugar and lacks the fiber that fresh fruit has. One cup of apple juice has about 120 calories and 27 grams of sugar. Keep in mind that many people drink significantly more than just one cup of juice. You could eat an entire apple for 72 calories and 14 grams of sugar. You’d be getting fiber and nutrients that aren’t available in the juice, and you’d suppress your appetite as well.


The FDA’s official serving size for a soda is 8 ounces (about 100 calories — even a can of soda is 12 ounces) but you’d be hard pressed to find such a small serving size at a food restaurant or convenience store. I’m sure you’ve heard about New York City’s ban on humongous fountain drinks at local restaurants, sports venues, and movie theaters. And with the 40-ounce, 420 calorie, 120 grams of sugar sodas that are becoming so prominent in today’s society, it’s not hard to see how soft drinks can lead to such excessive weight gain. You don’t get all the calories with Diet Coke, but you still get artificial sweeteners which present their own health issues that I’m not even going to dive into.

Energy Drinks

When you’re forced to drive overnight it can be tempting to reach for a high caffeine energy drink like Red Bull or Amp. But like the above, these drinks contain many calories and added sugars that can wreak havoc on your weight. A regular Red Bull has 115 calories, 26 grams of sugar, and 77 mg of caffeine. A regular caffeinated cup of coffee contains anywhere from 100-150 mg of caffeine and only about 10 calories.

In a Harvard Health Study of more than 50,000 women, participants were told to increase their intake of sugary beverages from one a week to one or more per day. The participants ate an average of 358 extra calories every day with the addition of the sugary beverage into their diets. These beverages rarely provide any nutritional value and just lead to increased calorie and sugar consumption.

While these fancy drinks can be consumed in moderation like anything else, your best bet is just to drink water throughout the day. I know it’s cliche, but drinking water really is the best possible thing you can do for your body! It rehydrates, helps with pain management, and provides a number of additional benefits. Calorie free, fat free, sugar free, and….free! What’s better than that?

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About Amanda

Amanda is a former digital communications coordinator and frequent blogger for the, a website focused on truck driver health initiatives. Our mission is to encourage truck drivers to embrace a healthier lifestyle by providing both expert advice and real world experiences. Let us be your co-driver on the road to a healthier, happier life!