Summer Coolers: Drink This, Not That

Over the past 50 years or so, we Americans have developed a severe drinking problem.

We stopped making our own iced teas and lemonades (recipe: water, lemon, sugar) and started buying them in bottles or mixes, with ingredients like "high-fructose corn syrup" and "ascorbic acid" on the labels.

We stopped thinking of a soda as a treat - akin to an ice cream or a candy bar - and started seeing it as the equivalent of a glass of water, drinking two, three, four, or more a day.

CLICK HERE to see the healthiest juice drinks for your kids in the "GMA" Takeaway web extra.

Then we stopped drinking water out of the tap and started demanding that it be artificially flavored and put into bottled with the words "vitamin" or "energy" stamped on their labels.

And, in just the last decade or so, many of us stopped brewing our own coffee and started buying things with vaguely European names, like "mocha latte." And the result of all this beverage evolution is that, today, walking into a convenience store or a beverage distributorship has become dangerous to our health.

America's supermarket aisles and drive-thru menus are awash in empty liquid calories. We've updated our list of worst offenders. Survive the rising tide by eliminating these, the country's most damaging drinkables, from your beverage regiment.

Need more convincing? A study last year from Johns Hopkins University found that cutting liquid calories has a bigger impact on weight-loss than cutting calories from food! Turns out that losing weight might be as easy as watching what you drink. For more information about diet-destroying drinks, get the latest book in the series: Drink This, Not That!

Worst Smoothie in America

Not That: Smoothie King Peanut Power Plus Grape (Medium, 32 fl oz)

1,124 calories 33 g fat (6 g saturated) 161 g sugar 22.5 g protein

Sugar Equivalent of 15 Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.

Drink This Instead: Smoothie King High Protein Banana (Medium, 32 fl oz)

483 calories 13.5 g fat (1.5 g saturated) 34.5 g sugars 40.5 g protein

Peanut butter works as a spread on toast, but when you try to use it in place of fruit in your smoothie, this is what happens. Essentially this smoothie is a jar of peanut butter with grape juice poured overtop. There's some other stuff in there*, including two forms of sugar, but the only real fruit is banana. And with Smoothie King's oversized cups, even a medium has more than half your day's calories. Drink a 40-ounce large and you've just filled your belly with 1,500 calories and more than 200 grams of sugar.

Thankfully Smoothie King makes some reasonable smoothies too, and this High Protein Banana is one of the best. It's also remarkably similar to the Peanut Power. Basically it swaps out peanut butter for healthier almond butter and relegates it to a supporting role. It's a painless swap that saves you 57% of the calories and earns you an additional 18 grams of protein.

* Full ingredient list: Peanut Butter, Grape Juice, Bananas, Soy Protein, Non-Fat Milk, Turbinado, Honey

For more health tips, check out the latest issue of Men's Health, on shelves now!

***

More from Men's Health:

20 NEW Worst Foods in America

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Get your copy of Drink This, Not That!

The 20 Worst Drinks in America 2010

Worst Frozen Coffee Drink

Not That: Dunkin Donuts Large Vanilla Bean Coolatta (32 fl oz)

860 calories 11 g fat (7 g saturated) 172 g sugars

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