You Drank What? Calories Lurk in Popular Beverages

"A lot of drinks are packed with sugar and energy and someone with diabetes or someone who is just trying to have a healthy diet in general needs to read the label," said Dr. Nanette Steinle, an assistant professor of medicine in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Nutrition at the University of Maryland in College Park.

"I think they have a sense that there's sugar, but I don't think people have a concept of how high the sugar content might be, or even a reference," said Steinle.

She said just one flavored water could eat up a fourth of the calories for a woman in a day.

Cecilia Sauter, a registered dietician and certified diabetes educator at the University of Michigan, said nature also plays a part in tricking us with liquid calories.

"Our brain, when we drink something, is not just going to check it off as, 'I quenched my hunger,'" said Sauter. "When I drink eight ounces of juice, I am not going to feel satisfied."

Rather, she said, it's better to eat the carbohydrate equivalent of fruit and feel satisfied.

Sauter said the list made by Men's Health might be a little dramatic. For instance, many of the drinks have sugar equivalents to, say, six donuts, but have far fewer calories.

Rockstar Energy Drink might have as much sugar as six donuts, but the calories are equivalent to just one donut.

"I think there is a reality behind it. I think they're playing the shock therapy," she said. "But it is true that a lot of these drinks have a lot more carbohydrates than people believe."

Some of the drinks on top 20 list were in categories that would obviously involve some high calories. A few of them let people consume a whole day's worth of calories in one sitting.

Clocking in at number one was the "worst beverage in America" the Cold Stone PB&C -- a milkshake -- in the 24-ounce size. That drink had 2,010 calories.

Milkshakes Are Bad, So What Else?

Those who treat diabetes say drinks with even a fraction of the calories of the Cold Stone PB&C milkshake, for example, might cause weight gain if people drink them often.

"I don't think you have to even think about a severe situation like that," said Dr. Michael Goran, a professor of preventive medicine and director of the Childhood Obesity Research Center at the University of Southern California.

Goran recommends just 10 to 15 grams of sugar per drink. However, a typical can of soda is 50 grams of sugar, which translates to 17 teaspoons of sugar.

"Imagine going into a Starbucks and ordering a coffee and putting 17 packets of sugar in your coffee," said Goran. "Nobody in their right mind would do that. But they would drink a soda without thinking about it."

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