Save Your Diet: Slim Summertime Drinks

Tuesday, September 26, 2006 - 2:55pm

By Marissa Lippert, RD

Summertime is officially here, and you’re probably ready to kick back with your favorite cocktail or anything that’s on ice! But don’t let summer beverages sabotage your diet goals and weight loss efforts. Be savvy about what you’re sipping; choose refreshing low-calorie, low-sugar drinks that quench your thirst, cool you down, and satisfy your taste buds all in one.

Sports drinks have hidden calories

Though they may sound healthy, sports, energy and vitamin drinks can easily rack up extra calories more quickly than you might think. True, sports drinks replenish electrolytes (sodium, potassium and magnesium), sugars and water, but they’re not really necessary for the average, moderate workout. In fact, they’re best reserved for when our bodies need them most—during strenuous exercise at high intensity levels that lasts more than 60-90 minutes. Although these drinks can seem fairly light-weight, calories can be relatively high, with the average 20-ounce bottle containing between 125-200 calories. Keep in mind that a single serving is just eight ounces.

Moderate your intake of sodas and coffee drinks

Sipping an ice-cold soda is another summer classic that can easily tack on pounds. A single 12-ounce can of soda contains about 150 calories and 40-45 grams of sugar. Leave empty calories behind and stick to your weight goals. Remember that merely consuming 100 calories extra per day equals a gain of 10 pounds per year.

If you’ve developed a taste for frozen or icy coffee treats, be mindful the next time you order a Frappuccino or iced mocha latte with whipped cream. The calories and fat content of coffee drinks can top off at nearly 700 calories and 28 grams of fat! (This is more than a third of the average individual’s total required daily calories and almost half the required fat.) Instead, lighten up and reach for a small size Frappuccino without the whip for an occasional treat. Better yet, get yourself a calcium boost by ordering an iced skim latte, topping it off with a shake of cocoa powder or cinnamon, and maxes out at a mere 70 calories for a small (12 ounces) or 100 calories for a medium (16 ounces).

Beware of fruit smoothies

Finally, the fruit smoothie is yet another beverage that may sound delicious and boast the benefits of fruit, but unfortunately ranks high on the calorie and sugar charts…potentially doing more harm to your waistline than good. Whether it comes from Smoothie King, Jamba Juice or another brand, a 16-ounce fruit smoothie averages around 300 calories. Moreover, it has around 60-70 grams of sugar—that’s nearly 16 teaspoons of added sugar, a lot for one little drink when our daily goal should be about 12 teaspoons total! Larger sized smoothies can have up to 600 or 700 calories.

To avoid all the extra calories and sugar, make your own smoothie at home. This way, you can get a boost of vitamins from fresh fruit and some extra calcium from low-fat yogurt. Blend fresh fruit, low-fat vanilla or plain yogurt, ice and honey for a filling breakfast or refreshing snack.

Smart summer cocktails

Who doesn’t love a killer margarita or mojito when the weather’s warm? They’re delicious and refreshing…but have them in moderation. Alcoholic cocktails, mixed tropical drinks, creamy liqueurs, and wine coolers can be chock full of extra calories and sugar. Indulge in moderation with lighter drinks, have one or two, and switch to club soda and lime or unsweetened iced tea. Stay hydrated by sipping on a glass of water in between drinks. Here’s a calorie breakdown of some summertime favorites:



White Wine Spritzer (2 ounces of wine, plus 4 ounces of seltzer)


Corona Lite


Bloody Mary (ask for extra celery!)


White/Rosé/Red Wine


Sangria (pack it with fresh fruit!)




Margarita on the rocks (skip the salt!)


Frozen Margarita, Daiquiri or Piña Colada


Water - low calorie - and the greatest thirst-quencher of all

What’s the best way to remain hydrated in the summer heat? Water, plain and simple. Aim to consume 1-2 liters of water per day, depending on your body’s needs and activity level. Spice up regular water with some citrus and squeeze in a slice of lemon, lime or orange for a refreshing twist. Try a few slices of lemon and cucumber for a relaxing cooler. If you’re tired of water, switch it up for a beverage lower in calories such as iced green, black or herbal tea flavored with fresh raspberries, mint and 1-2 teaspoons of sugar or a dash of artificial sweetener. Other alternatives include flavored seltzer water and homemade lemonade (watch the sugar and toss-in a few fresh raspberries or strawberries for a fun fruity variation). Whatever low-calorie drink you choose, the key is to stay well-hydrated, keep your body’s temperature cool, and indulge in higher-calorie summer favorites in moderation.