The #1 Reason You Aren’t Losing Weight

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By Lucy Danziger and the staff at Self magazine

Half of Americans down at least one sugary drink a day, and some guzzle more than 567 calories’ worth—that’s almost the calorie equivalent of a Big Mac in a glass. Gulp! SELF experts Stephanie Clarke, R.D., and Willow Jarosh, R.D., reveal better-for-you bevvies ( cocktails included) from your favorite spots so you can sip and stay slim.

At the smoothie shop…
Skip it: Jamba Juice Original (24 ounces) Aloha Pineapple Smoothie (410 calories, 1.5 grams fat)

Sip it: Jamba Juice 16 oz Apple ’n Greens Smoothie (220 calories, 1 g fat) We applaud the high-fiber fruit and calcium-rich yogurt in the Aloha Pineapple. But sherbet adds mega sugar (91 g here!), and the shake falls too short on protein to make a balanced lunch. Swap it for the Apple ’n Greens to cut 190 calories and 51 g sugar. Our pick also has 2 g more fiber, thanks to extra fruit (mango, peach) and veg (spinach, kale). Pair it with 1 oz protein-packed nuts for a complete lunch.

At the coffee shop…
Skip it: Starbucks Grande Iced Caramel Macchiato with whipped cream, extra vanilla syrup and caramel (440 calories, 21.5 g fat)

Sip it: Starbucks Tall Coffee Frappuccino with skim milk, no whipped cream (160 calories, 0 g fat) There’s room for treats in every diet , but the added syrup and caramel and whipped cream turn the Macchiato from a small splurge into a calorie and fat overload. Trade it for the Coffee Frappuccino: It has the same craveable qualities. (Creamy texture? Check! Tastes like a milk shake? Yep!) But forgoing the high-cal extras and opting for skim milk trims 280 calories and 21.5 g fat. And it’s still plenty flavorful, so the smaller cup is enough to satisfy your sweet tooth.

At the convenience store…
Skip it: Snapple Lemon Tea (160 calories, 0 g fat per 16-oz bottle)

Sip it: Honest Tea Half & Half Organic Tea with Lemonade (100 calories, 0 g fat per 16.9-oz bottle) Four of the Snapple ingredients—water, tea, citric acid and natural flavors—are virtually free of calories and sugar . That means the drink’s 36 g (3 tablespoons) of sugar come from the only other listed ingredient: added sugar. By contrast, Honest Tea delivers the same refreshing tea-and-lemon combo for 60 fewer calories. It does have some added sugar but 12 g less than Snapple does. Honest Tea also contains all-natural ingredients, making it a good alternative to soda, which has artificial stuff.

At the gym…
Skip it: Juice Generation 24 oz Mucho Mango Smoothie (370 calories, 4 g fat)

Sip it: Juice Generation 20 oz Pure Energy Juice (150 calories, 0 g fat) Juice Generation’s blends are made with lots of produce and nothing artificial—bravo! But the smoothies are too high in calories to count as a snack, which shouldn’t exceed 200 calories. If you want a small pre- or postworkout pick-me-up, our choice, Pure Energy Juice, gives you 5 g energizing protein for 220 fewer calories. If it’s lunchtime, opt for the 24-oz Protein Buzz Smoothie (410 calories, 6 g fat). Blended with fruit and hemp , soy or whey protein, it’s more of a meal than other less caloric choices, and has the ideal combo of carbs and protein.

At happy hour…
Skip it: Oaxaca old-fashioned with tequila, mezcal, agave and bitters (159 calories, 0 g fat)

Sip it: Club soda and a splash of fresh lime juice with a shot (1.5 oz) of tequila (100 calories, 0 g fat) You know a cocktail a day may help protect your heart, but we’d offer this advice: Order carefully. Specialty drinks often have multiple types of liquor, and every 1.5-oz shot adds an additional 97 calories. (Plus, some bartenders are heavy-handed.) Also, beware excess agave: The plant-based sweetener can be 80 percent fructose, a sugar shown to increase belly fat in a study at the University of California in Davis. Stick to one type of booze with a zero-calorie mixer like club soda. Cheers!

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