A fully grown male deer. The carbon body of a 2007 Shelby Mustang Funny Car. Tom Cruise. And all the sugar and other sweeteners you, the average American, will eat this year. What do they all have in common? They all weigh approximately 140 pounds.
Life is sweet, all right -- so sweet that each of us will eat the sugar equivalent of 6,047 Reese's Peanut Butter Cups in the next 12 months. Impossible, right? Sure, you like a piece of birthday cake now and again, and you're not above raiding the kids' Halloween stash or Christmas stockings or even stealing a serving of ice cream once a week or so. But 140 pounds of the sweet stuff? How can that be?
The authors of the best-selling weight-loss books, Eat This, Not That!, reveal 12 of the most sugar-packed foods in America. Some are ice cream treats, sure. But just as many are regular food products that you'd never in a million years consider "desserts"—that is, until now. Steer clear of these 12 sugar-packed foods. Your blood sugar—and teeth!—depend on it.
Most Sugar-Packed Canned Product: Del Monte Peach Chunks in Heavy Syrup (1/2 cup)
23 g sugars 100 calories 0 g fat
Unlike most food on this list, these peaches aren't bona fide junk food; they are, after all, still fruit. But why manufacturers feel the need to can, package, and bottle nature's candy with excess sugar is a question we will never stop asking. In this case, the viscous sugar solution clings to the fruit like syrup to a pancake, soaking every bite with utterly unnecessary calories. Looking for cheap sources of fruit to have on hand at any time? Opt for the frozen stuff -- it's picked at the height of season and flash frozen on the spot, keeping costs low and nutrients high.
Eat This Instead: Dole Frozen Sliced Peaches (3/4 cup)
10 g sugars 50 calories 0 g fat
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29 g sugars 400 calories 16 g fat (4 g saturated)
These are the types of nutrition numbers you'd expect from a hunk of coffee cake, not a whole grain muffin. Truth is, the two are more similar than you'd think. After all, this bevy of berries is teeming with more sugar than you'd find in a pack of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. If you want an easy-to-eat breakfast food, grab a croissant over a muffin. They may be heavy on flaky, buttery flavor, but they're usually one of the safest baked goods you'll find at a cafe or coffee shop.
Eat This Instead: Plain Croissant
4 g sugars 270 calories 14 g fat (6 g saturated)
Most Sugar-Packed Cereal: Quaker Natural Granola Oat & Honey & Raisins (1 cup)
26 g sugars 420 calories 10 g fat (1 g saturated) 10 g fiber
Like eating dessert for breakfast? Because that's basically what granola is. Sure, there's a splash of fiber, but it's completely diluted by a tidal wave of sugar. In fact, sugar accounts for more than a third of the calories in this bowl, and unfortunately, Quaker's is the rule, not the exception. The only acceptable use for granola is to crumble a small handful into plain yogurt. Save your bowls for a cereal more wholesome.
Eat This Instead: Post Shredded Wheat (1 cup)
0 g sugars 160 calories 1 g fat (6 g fiber)
Most Sugar-Packed Chinese Meal: Manchu Wok Honey Garlic Chicken with Fried Rice
34 g sugars 840 calories 34 g fat (6 g saturated) 2,100 mg sodium
Why does this simple Chinese meal pack as much sugar as a pack of Skittles? Blame the Honey Garlic Sauce bathing the chicken. The Honey Garlic Chicken packs about twice the sugar as the Pineapple Chicken, so making that switch will automatically improve the dish. Do yourself one extra favor and switch to mixed vegetables instead of rice as a side. You'll earn flavor and nutrients while eliminating 280 calories.
Eat This Instead: Pineapple Chicken with Mixed Vegetables
17 g sugars 300 calories 19 g fat (3 g saturated) 770 mg sodium
Most Sugar-Packed Mall Snack: Auntie Anne's Cinnamon Sugar Pretzel with Sweet Dip
61 g sugars 600 calories 12 g fat (7 g saturated)
The combination of the sweetest pretzel with the sweetest dip (there are 32 grams of sugar in that little cup!) makes this the most nefarious option for your blood sugar and your chompers. Nothing trumps marinara in the battle for a better dip, but to compliment the sweet flavor of a raisin pretzel, cream cheese is far safer than the other options. Cut an extra 30 calories by asking them to prepare your pretzel sans butter.
Eat This Instead: Raisin Pretzel with Cream Cheese
16 grams sugars 440 calories 11 g fat (7.5 g saturated)
Most Sugar-Packed Fast Food Breakfast: Dunkin' Donuts Apple Crumb Donut with Small Coffee with Cream and Sugar
66 g sugars 610 calories 24 g fat (13 g saturated)
Fruity names aside, crumb doughnuts are the worst doughnut option. Just as bad is the normal coffee order. Cream and sugar add 115 calories to a small, so if you slug through two or three a day, expect to carry around an extra 25 to 35 pounds. Surprisingly, eight of Dunkin's 10 "Kreme" doughnuts are less than 320 calories—a rare feat in the world of fat-stuffed pastries. Tack on a 10-calorie cup of Caramel Coffee, and you have a decadent start to your day that won't budge the needle on that dreaded scale.
Eat This Instead: Bavarian Kreme Donut with Small Caramel Coffee
9 g sugars 280 calories 15 g fat (7 g saturated)
Most Sugar-Packed Coffee House Drink: Starbucks Strawberries & Creme Frappuccino Blended Creme (Grande size with 2% milk and whipped cream)
68 g sugars 440 calories 15 g fat (9 g saturated)
Frappuccinos are easily the worst beverages on offer at Starbucks, so if you must have one, make it a Frappuccino Light. Even if you order a Grande, you still have a good chance of landing one under 200 calories. Your best bet at Starbucks, though, (aside from black coffee, of course), is a Vivanno beverage. They offer two key elements that put them leagues ahead of any Frap: Real fruit (one whole banana in each smoothie) and a shot of whey protein and fiber. That means you get a kick of antioxidants with a helping of slow-digesting nutrients to keep your blood sugar stable.
Drink This Instead: Strawberry Vivanno (16 oz with 2% milk)
39 g sugars 280 calories 2 g fat (0 g saturated)
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74 g sugars 760 calories 47 g fat (31 g saturated, 1.5 g trans)
The Gotta Have It size at Cold Stone is about 12 ounces, which is equivalent to ordering three scoops at Baskin-Robbins or Ben & Jerry's. Order any ice cream in this size and you can expect to spoon down about a day's worth of saturated fat and the same amount of sugar as you'll find in 11 rainbow popsicles. Downsize your order, and focus on toppings, which can make or break an ice cream. Most of the cookies and candy bars at Cold Stone have between 100 and 200 calories per serving, so limit the indulgent toppings to Nilla Wafers and Yellow Cake. Fruits and nuts, of course, will always be your safest bets.
Eat This Instead: Chocolate Yogurt (Like It size) topped with Yellow Cake and blueberries
40 g sugars 260 calories 2.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated)
Most Sugar-Packed Smoothie: Jamba Juice Banana Berry (22 fl oz)
82 g sugars 400 calories 1.5 g fat (0.5 g saturated)
Be on the lookout for smoothies—like this one—that are made with juice, not whole fruits. Sure juice is derived from fruit, but it burdens your smoothie with loads of extra sugars without contributing a shred of fiber or protein. You're better off with all-fruit or dairy-based varieties.
Drink This Instead: Berry Fulfilling (22 fl oz)
39 g sugars 230 calories 1 g fat (0 g saturated)
Most Sugar-Packed Hot Beverage: Starbucks Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate (Venti size with 2% milk and whipped cream)
81 g sugars 560 calories 19 g fat (11 g saturated) Since when did hot chocolate require salt and caramel to meet the expectations of consumers? Seems a bit gratuitous, no? Thanks to Starbucks' monstrous creation, the classic winter comfort beverage is now sullied with more than half a day's worth of saturated fat and more sugar than 3 Hershey's chocolate bars.
Drink This Instead: Vanilla Bean Crème Frappuccino (Tall size, nonfat milk)
39 g sugars 170 calories 0 g fat
Most Sugar-Packed Sundae: Baskin-Robbins Oreo Layered Sundae
146 g sugars 1,330 calories 61 g fat (31 g saturated, 1 g trans)
Outrageous? That's an understatement. Cookie and candy bar flavors reign supreme at Baskin-Robbins, and the results are almost always dismal. If you must have a sundae, try to limit it to two scoops with a bit of hot fudge and chopped nuts—that'll run you about 550 calories. Your better bet at Baskin, though, is to stick to scoops to mitigate the damage of ice cream indulgence.
Eat This Instead: Oreo Cookies 'n Cream Ice Cream (4 oz scoop) in a Cake Cone
27 g sugars 305 calories 15 g fat (9 g saturated)
Most Sugar-Packed Menu Item in America: Cold Stone BP&C Shake (Gotta Have It size)
153 g sugars 2,010 calories 131 g fat (68 g saturated, 2.5 g trans)
There's no such thing as a healthy milkshake, but there are varying degrees of bad. Unfortunately, this belly-bloating beverage takes unhealthy to the extreme. It contains nearly as much sugar as an entire 15-ounce box of Chewy Chips Ahoy! Cookies! It's also the only drink in America to stretch across the 2,000-calorie mark. The combination of peanut butter—good in small amounts, horrendous when liquefied in bathtub-size quantities—and chocolate ice cream outpaces even the worst cookie- and candy-strewn shakes that clutter Cold Stone's embarrassing shake menu. Suck this thing down and you've just blasted away a day's worth of calories and more than 3 days' worth of saturated fat.
Eat This Instead: Sinless Strawberry Bananza Smoothie (Love It size)
34 g sugars 220 calories 1.5 g fat (0 g saturated)
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