You Drank What? Calories Lurk in Popular Beverages

Anyone who cares about their weight probably wouldn't sit down and eat six Krispy Kreme donuts on a regular basis. But they might head out to a convenience store, pick up an energy drink and unwittingly down the equivalent amount of sugar.

It's true. One 16-ounce can of Rockstar Energy Drink is all it takes to pack in the same amount of sugar as half a dozen Krispy Kreme Original Glazed donuts.

"People will sometimes drink these things not realizing what they've got," said Dr. Daniel Einhorn, president of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists.

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Eat Well, Beat Diabetes

Einhorn said the fight against diabetes has a large stake in what people drink. Diabetes currently affects 23.6 million Americans, according to the American Diabetes Association. Another 57 million Americans are pre-diabetic, and may be able to change their risk through exercise, diet and their drink choices.

"It's calories," said Einhorn. "However you get heavier and however you get excess calories, that is how you get to diabetes."

Last week, Men's Health put out a list of the "20 Worst Drinks in America." Since there are so many beverages to choose from -- alcoholic, coffee-based drinks, energy drinks and more -- Men's Health decided to name their idea of "worst" from each category.

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Energy drinks aren't the only confusing culprits. Einhorn said the calorie and sugar content of flavored water and even old fashioned juice often surprises people.

Take, for instance number 20 on the list: Snapple Agave Melon Antioxidant Water. It has the equivalent sugar of two Good Humor Chocolate Eclair Bars.

"It goes in the category of stealth bad foods. It sounds good, but it's not the original food," said Einhorn.

Einhorn's recommendation is simple.

"Water, water, water," said Einhorn. "Learn to enjoy water. It can be fizzy water, it can be club soda water, but water."

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Water or Nothing?

While experts say sugary beverages have a large impact on unhealthy diets that put people at risk for diabetes, it also may be the easiest change to make.

"I would say 80 percent of the success we have in changing diets is taking away these sugar drinks," said Dr. Joel Zonszein, professor of Clinical Medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.

Looking at the list, even he was shocked by some of the high sugar counts.

"I'm amazed of these margaritas and Starbucks," said Zonszein, referring to number 7 of the Men's Health List, the Traditional Red Lobster Lobsterita margarita.

In total, the 24-ounce margarita has 890 calories and the same number of carbohydrates as six or seven Almond Joy candy bars.

"People don't realize what they do," said Zonszein, director of the Clinical Diabetes Center at Montefiore Hospital in New York City.

Although, traditionally, people who were concerned about developing diabetes might pay attention to their sugar, Zonszein said it is smarter to look at the calories of food.

When it comes to drinks, those calories are almost always derived from carbohydrates.

"They don't develop diabetes because they eat sugar, but it is the caloric intake and their predisposition," said Zonzein. "It's an easy to drink calories, you don't drink fat. Even milk is very rich in sugar and has high calories."

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