The 6 Worst Summer Beverage Blunders

As temperatures rise, you may find yourself reaching for chilled summer beverages to cool down. While it’s incredibly important to stay hydrated in the heat of the summer, the drink you choose can make a huge difference to your waistline. If you’re constantly grabbing for sugar-laden beverages, it’s easy to drink a day’s worth of calories before you even take a bite of food.

As often as possible, choose water. If you have a sweet tooth, get creative by sweetening it with different types of chopped fruit. If it’s bubbles you’re craving, try seltzer with a fruity addition like chopped strawberries. If it’s bold flavor you want, try unsweetened iced tea.

Of course we know you’ll want to splurge from time to time, and that’s okay. After all, summer is about having fun. Still, it’s best to avoid the six biggest summer drink blunders below—or at least opt for a healthier version (which we’ve provided, too!).

1. Piña Coladas

Piña Coladas

This tropical smoothie is synonymous with summer. And yet it’s also one of the worst offenders when it comes to calorie- and fat-laden beverages. Even as a small virgin drink, the piña colada is chockfull of sugar. Take, for instance, the Orange Julius® brand version of a piña colada: Their small Tropi-Colada Smoothie has 250 calories and 47 grams of sugar. The extra-large version adds up to 610 calories and 117 grams of sugar. This fruity drink may transport you to the islands but won’t leave you feeling bikini-ready.

Instead of grabbing a piña colada from the beach bar or a fast food restaurant, consider making your own healthier version at home. Try our Piña Colada Protein Smoothie recipe for a tasty treat that fits into your Nutrisystem weight loss plan. Get the recipe here! >

2. Beer

Beer flight

Whether you’re at a summer picnic, hanging on the beach or sitting poolside, chances are your cooler is packed with some cold brews. While a nice cold beer is refreshing in the summer hear, try to choose a light variety whenever possible to save some calories. A regular can of beer has about 150 calories but you can easily drop around 50 of those calories by opting for the light version. The biggest problem with beer as a summer beverage is the fact that drinkers rarely stop at just one and those 150 calorie cans quickly add up.

Looking for some new beers that go light on the calories? Click the link below for 10 beers that clock in at 100 calories or less (all taste-tested and approved by our dietitian!):

3. Milkshakes

Strawberry, vanilla and chocolate milkshakes.

Whether you’re strolling the boardwalk or just get a craving while driving around town, a creamy milkshake may sound delicious but it can easily be a diet destroyer. A small Chocolate shake from Dairy Queen contains 530 calories and 19 grams of fat. Plus, it has a whopping 67 grams of sugar.

If you’re really craving the creaminess of a shake, make it in your home blender and keep the ingredients healthy. Need a creamy, dreamy recipe that fits into your weight loss plan? Try this Black Forest Chocolate Cherry Milkshake! >

4. Frappuccinos

Frappuccino in takeaway cup on wooden table

This popular, blended coffee drink is rich with taste but probably not worth all the calories and fat it packs in. Take, for instance, the Starbucks Strawberry Funnel Cake Frappuccino®, which pretty much sounds like the quintessential summer drink. The small (“tall”) version has 290 calories, 14 grams of fat and a not-so-sweet 35 grams of sugar. All that sugar and syrup can wreak havoc on your diet.

An iced coffee with a splash of milk or flavored cream can at least give you that bold flavor you crave without all the fat and calories. Even if you added one to two teaspoons of sugar, you’d still be better off than ordering one of these calorie-laden drinks. You can also make your own Frappuccino recipe at home! Try this Caramel Faux Frappuccino recipe or this Mocha Faux Frappuccino.

5. Canned Lemonade or Iced Tea

Canned Lemonade with lemons

Another go-to beverage on a hot summer day is a refreshing glass of iced tea or lemonade. While most homemade versions of these drinks usually aren’t too bad, the bottled and canned versions tend to be unnecessarily packed with extra sugar. A 12-ounce can of Minute Maid lemonade only has 150 calories but dishes out a whopping 40 grams of sugar (almost 11 teaspoons!). Similarly, although at just 80 calories, a 12-ounce can of LIPTON Brisk Lemon Tea doesn’t sound that bad, it’s got 20 grams of sugar.

If you brew your own green, white, herbal or black iced tea at home, you start with zero calories and can sweeten lightly to keep the sugar content way down. You can also make your own, fresh and healthier lemonade using simple, real ingredients. The three main parts to lemonade are water, lemons, and sugar, but by making it at home you can sweeten it only lightly. Better yet, use a natural sweetener like stevia or monk fruit! One cup of lemon juice, four cups of cold water and just a tablespoon of sweetener will make a pitcher-full of tangy lemonade with just a hint of sweetness.

Learn how to brew your own iced tea here, then check out our tips for pouring the perfect glass! Be sure to also try out this Raspberry Lemonade Slushie recipe. >

6. Root Beer Float

Refreshing Root Beer Float with Vanilla Ice Cream

While a root beer float is a fun summer treat that may bring back sweet memories of childhood, when you combine the 152-calorie can of soda with a half-cup, 137-calorie scoop of vanilla ice cream, you’re looking at a sugary, high calorie dessert. You can make a lighter version by using a light root beer and frozen yogurt. Have some fun with it by combining the two ingredients in a popsicle mold and freezing until solid. It will last longer and cool you down on the hottest of days.

*All nutritional information taken from product labels or respective company websites on 7/26/2021.

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