Liquid calories slip by so easily, it’s almost hard to take them seriously. But alas, all those super-sized beverages and high fructose corn syrup concoctions have contributed, quite stealthily, to our obesity epidemic. Our adults have the beer bellies and our children the Big Gulp guts to prove it. Although some cities have started to ban sales of soda in schools, we adults are free to roam in the world of heavily sauced drinks, sometimes adding a meal-sized amount of calories from a tiny little straw. Here are some obvious and not-so-obvious ways to bulk up without ever having to chew.
Burger King Chocolate Ice Cream Shake
950 calories, 29 grams fat (19 saturated), 640 milligrams sodium, 146 grams sugar
Hmmm … a milkshake, or an entire meal? You could have a burger (290 calories), small fries (230 calories), and a small soda (140 calories) for fewer calories (660) than this drink. I’d rather chew.
A better bet: Small chocolate milk.
Starbucks White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino:
410 calories, 16 grams fat (10 saturated), 270 milligrams sodium, 54 grams sugar
Is it a coffee, or is it a milkshake? Although the CEO of Starbucks recently made the decision to stop selling sandwiches in their stores, I’m guessing they’ll keep selling these espresso-flavored milkshakes as long as we keep buying them. Darn, they’re good.
A better bet: Iced skim milk latte.
Jamba Juice Peanut Butter Moo’d Shake Original Size
840 calories, 21 grams fat ( 4.5 saturated), 122 grams sugar, 15 milligrams cholesterol
Jamba Juice’s logo contains a lot of colorful fruit, but there’s little of it in this shake. Instead, it has frozen yogurt, chocolate moo’d base (what is that?), soy milk, bananas, and peanut butter. With 122 grams of sugar (very few of them from the banana), it’s the equivalent of drinking five Cokes (a can has about 40 grams of sugar). Even their less obviously bad Strawberries Wild has 83 grams of sugar.
A better bet: 16-ounce Bright Eyed and Blueberry shake; it has 220 calories, and 38 grams sugar
Orange Julius’ Strawberry Banana Shake (32-ounce)
600 calories, 14 grams fat (11 saturated), 87 grams sugar, 130 milligrams sodium
It must be a first: a shake made with lowfat frozen yogurt, bananas, and strawberries that contains 11 grams of saturated fat. Truly amazing. I’d rather eat a Snicker’s bar, which has half the calories (280), less saturated fat (5 grams), and less sugar (30 grams).
A better bet: A 20-ounce Orange Julius has only 160 calories and 5 grams fat, none of them saturated
7-Eleven Double Gulp Soda
I drank sixty-four ounces of soda on a cross-country road trip once, and it was a bad scene. My stomach didn’t feel quite right for at least a day, and my friend, who also imbibed, was so hopped up on caffeine she started giving lip to the Texas highway patrol who pulled her over for doing ninety in a fifty zone. I think there’s still a warrant out for her arrest.
Soda isn’t that bad every once in a while; unfortunately, it’s hard to find anything smaller than a 16-ouncer and really easy to get things much larger. Cans of soda seem to be obsolete. The Food and Drug Administration’s official serving size is 8 ounces (100 calories), not eight times that amount. Bigger isn’t better.
A better bet: Can of soda (150 calories) or a diet soda.
300–400 calories for 20 ounces
True, juice isn’t inherently bad for you, and can sometimes provide vitamins and nutrients. However, you’d be much better off eating the fruit from which it came rather than drinking mostly empty calories. Many store-bought juices have added sugars, and most come in a 2.5 serving or larger container, making that breakfast accompaniment as many calories as the meal itself.
A better bet: Stick to 8-ounce containers or kid’s containers; look for 100 percent juices; juice your own.
644 calories (approximately)
If you really like Pina Coladas, you may not only get caught in the rain, but in the fat farm. At around seven hundred calories, this drink, made with rum, coconut milk, and pineapples has more calories than a Big Mac. Other calorically heavy-hitting cocktails are Long Island Iced Teas, Margaritas, and White Russians. Damn, I love those.
A better bet: Vodka and soda with lime; glass of red wine; a beer
While it’s hard to think about drinks as anything but additions to a meal, the sizes and sugar-laden drinks we’re faced with today make them more like an entire meal. Unfortunately, rarely are they as satisfying or as filling. So when I find myself having more pints of beer than slices of pizza, I get rid of them the only way I know how: by drinking water while I exercise.
Updated July 20, 2009