Did you know that Americans consume about 100 to 150 calories a day from sugar-sweetened drinks? Keep that up and you'll put on about 10 pounds a year. While it's old news that soda and fruit punch are loaded with sugar, many popular fruit-flavored waters, juices and "healthy" drinks are no better. For example, a 12-ounce bottle of cranberry juice cocktail has 210 calories and 51 grams of sugar. That's like adding 13 spoonfuls of sugar to one glass of water. Sure, you're getting vitamin C, but you're much better off eating a (low-calorie, fiber-rich) orange instead.
A good rule of thumb? Look at the first ingredient. If it's not fruit juice, put the drink down. In the case of cranberry juice cocktail, water and high-fructose corn syrup come before cranberry juice. Water or seltzer is always best, but if you can't live without your morning glass of OJ, make sure it's 100 percent fruit juice and limit yourself to one cup per day. Skim milk is another good option. Meanwhile, try to stay away from sports drinks, flavored coffees and blended beverages. And if you do indulge, stick to one 6-ounce serving.
For those times when water just won't cut it, take to this list of the best and worst "healthy" drinks to quench your thirst without pouring on the pounds.
Instead Of: Arizona Iced Tea (270 calories, 72 grams sugar)
Choose: Honest Tea "Just a Tad Sweet" (85 calories, 20 grams sugar)
Instead Of: SoBe Green Tea (240 calories, 61 grams sugar)
Choose: Inkos Unsweetened White (90 calories, 0 grams sugar)
Instead Of: Odwalla Protein Monster Chocolate (about 220 calories, 25 grams sugar)
Choose: Organic Family 1% Milkfat Chocolate (150 calories, 9 grams protein)
Instead Of: SoBe Strawberry Banana Lizard Fuel (290 calories, 73 grams sugar)
Choose: Naked Reduced-Calorie Juice (200 calories, 40 grams sugar)
Instead Of: Naked Pomegranate Blueberry Antioxidant Smoothie (300 calories, 64 grams sugar)
Choose: PomLight (150 calories, 34 grams sugar)
Instead Of: Vitamin Water (150 calories, 33 grams sugar)
Choose: Zico Coconut Water (60 calories, 24 grams sugar)
Instead Of: Odwalla Superfood (260 calories, 50 grams sugar)
Choose: Naked BerryVeggie Machine (260 calories, 36 grams sugar)