When you are thinking about how to modify your diet in an attempt to lose weight or boost your overall health, it is easy to overlook the contribution that can be made by drinks.
However, there are some drinks that are so shockingly bad for you that it is in your best interests to avoid them at all costs.
More often than not, the problem is excessive amounts of added sugar that cause dangerous spikes in blood pressure and contribute to weight gain, but some drinks are also surprisingly fatty.
Here are 7 drinks that you should never drink again.
#1 Iced tea
Iced tea is an extremely attractive option on a hot day, and it may look like a healthier alternative to sugary sodas. In addition, iced green teas are commonly selected by dieters who have heard that drinking green tea can aid weight loss.
However, the cons of drinking iced tea will dramatically outweigh the pros, so iced tea is not the smart choice that it may be appear to be.
The most popular brands of iced tea contain at least 250 calories per serving, and you will be disappointed to learn that many of them contain even more sugar than you would expect to find in most sodas.
Most iced teas will provide you with around 60g of sugar, so drinking just a few servings of iced tea each week can pose a serious obstacle to fitness and weight loss.
Instead of buying iced tea, try making your own. If you do add any sugar, make sure it is a small amount of unrefined (i.e. brown) sugar, and slowly reduce the amount until you are used to drinking it with no sugar at all. Alternatively, experiment with making water tastier and more refreshing by adding a squeeze of lemon or lime juice.
#2 Hot chocolate
While you may already know that hot chocolate is unhealthy, you probably are not aware of just how ridiculous the ingredients can be.
In general, the hot chocolate that you can buy in coffee shops will be exceptionally bad for you in all possible senses.
For example, the Starbucks Venti 2% Salted Hot Chocolate provides you with a staggering 760 calories, which is more than some people consume in a dinner portion.
In addition, this drink contains 22g of saturated fat (which is more than you should have in an entire day), and 85g of sugar. To top it all off, the 380mg of sodium makes the Salted Hot Chocolate entirely unsuitable for those who are concerned about heart health and maintaining low blood pressure.
While this particular hot chocolate is an extreme example, its nutritional content should serve as a wakeup call about the true nature of these sweet drinks.
If you want a drink that satisfies your urge for a chocolate flavor, look out for diet hot chocolate sachets that often contain less than 100 calories and very little sugar. If you make them with hot water instead of milk, you can enjoy a hot chocolate without the guilt.
#3 Flavored waters
Flavored waters often try to lure you in with the claim that they contain added vitamins and other nutrients, but don’t be fooled by the bold statements on their labels.
Even those that deliver on the promise to provide you with vitamins may be doing your body more harm than good due to excessive amounts of added sugars.
For example, the Tropical Mango Antioxidant Water made by Snapple contains 150 calories(which is a preposterous amount of calories for any type of water), and gives many sodas a run for its money thanks to its 30g of added sugar.
In some cases, the vitamins in flavored waters are also fat-soluble; given that the water itself is fat free, it is therefore contentious whether your body can absorb a significant amount of vitamins like A and E.
If you are tempted by a bottle of flavored water, always check the label before choosing to make a purchase. Nine times out of ten, the sugar content will mean that you would be better off drinking plain water (or even a small portion of freshly squeezed fruit juice) and ensuring that you get the right amount of vitamins and minerals in other ways.
#4 Energy drinks
Energy drinks look like a godsend during long days of studying or work, but if staying healthy is important to you then it is vital to learn the facts about these sources of instant energy.
For example, the Rockstar Original contains 280 calories, and its 62 grams of sugar makes it substantially unhealthier than most popular sodas.
Added to the other foods and drinks that you get through in a day, a can of Rockstar pretty much guarantees that you will end up way over the recommended daily limit for sugar consumption.
In addition to promoting weight gain and causing blood sugar to reach dangerous highs, the FDA has warned that excessive consumption of these beverages could even be fatal.
In late 2012, it was estimated that 40 illnesses and 5 fatalities were caused by drinking Monster Energy, while 13 illnesses and 2 serious disabilities were associated with Rockstar.
These drinks appear to be responsible for heart attacks, loss of consciousness, arrhythmia (i.e. irregular heartbeat), psychotic episodes and strokes.
If you are looking for a boost, always choose a coffee over an energy drink. As well as being responsible about weight gain, you will be preserving the health of your whole body.
#5 Frozen mixed drinks
If you don’t like beer or hard liquor and you are looking to enjoy some kind of alcoholic drink, cocktails are often the most obvious choice.
In the summer, frozen mixed drinks become even more alluring thanks to their outstanding ability to refresh.
However, before you order a cocktail pitcher or even just a single drink, you should know what you’re getting yourself into.
Unfortunately, some frozen mixed drinks contain more calories than a medium-sized dinner, with many of those coming directly from calories or fat.
For example, the US Department of Agriculture revealed that the average 16-ounce pina colada can provide you with as many as 880 calories.
Margaritas and daiquiris tend to be just as bad, and these drinks are rarely ever made with any real fruit. Rather, their amazing taste comes from a whole host of artificial flavors and a hefty dose of high fructose corn syrup.
Further, don’t forget that your willpower tends to wane after one or two drinks; even if you think you will stop after a couple of frozen mixed drinks, you may find yourself buying more or reaching for the bar menu to order things like fried onion rings, fries and nachos.
Milkshakes are liquid desserts, so you should be as wary of them as you would be of a slab of cheesecake or a slice of chocolate fudge cake.
Often marketed as being somewhat healthy due to their high calcium content, milkshakes contain so much fat and sugar that it is sensible to try and get your recommended daily intake of calcium elsewhere.
One large milkshake from a standard diner or fast-food restaurant will contain between 500 and700 calories and huge amounts of saturated fat.
The PB&C Shake made by Cold Stone Creamery is even worse than the average milkshake, providing you with an outrageous 2,010 calories and 131g of fat (68g of which are saturated fat).
With 153g of sugar thrown into the mix, this milkshake comes with a guarantee of weight gain and has very little nutritional value.
However, you can make a healthier milkshake at home if you want to treat yourself now and again. Using fat free milk, reduced fat ice cream and a portion of fresh strawberries, you’ll be able to create a drink that tastes delightful but is not nearly as bad for you as the milkshakes that you can order in a restaurant.
#7 Pre-made smoothies
Smoothies can seem like an excellent addition to the diet, as eating plenty of fruit and vegetables is linked to a decrease in cancer risk, an increase in heart health, and a wide range of other benefits for your body.
However, the smoothies sold in most cafes (and even at so-called ‘smoothie bars’) are often capable of undermining your attempts to lose weight.
Many of them will contain around 350 calories and huge amounts of refined sugar that are added to improve the overall taste. Some are even made with full fat ice cream or full fat milk, and these drinks are even worse.
Now, although you should avoid buying smoothies, you don’t need to give up on them altogether. Indeed, if you opt to make them at home in your own kitchen then you can create healthy, nutritious beverages that boost health and help you to maintain a slender figure.
You can use a blender to make refreshing smoothies with fat free Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, and no additional sugar.
If you find it difficult to eat leafy greens, you can even find smoothie recipes that include vegetables like spinach but are cleverly designed to suppress the bitter taste.