Healthy Fast Food Drinks
Liquid calories can add up quickly. Keep yours under control with our top picks at fast food restaurants or local coffee shops in your neighborhood. By Karen Ansel, MS, RD
When it comes to hidden fat and calories, your drink may be delivering more than you bargained for. In fact, sipping just one extra can of soda a day can add up to nearly 15 new and unwanted pounds in a year. But that liquid refreshment doesn’t need to add to your bottom line. We reveal the healthiest – and most waistline-friendly – drinks to grab on the go.
Counterintuitive as it may seem, an espresso from Starbucks actually has less caffeine than a cup of Joe. With only 75 milligrams of caffeine per cup, this brew gives you a kick compared to the 260-milligram jolt you’d get from a tall coffee. How so? It all boils down to caffeine per ounce. Ounce per ounce, espresso does have more caffeine than coffee, roughly 75 milligrams versus 22 milligrams. But because that cup of java is 12 times bigger, its caffeine really adds up.
Jamba Juice just made your smoothie even healthier. Their Fruit & Veggie Smoothies pair real whole fruit with phytochemical-rich veggie juice. The result? A smoothie so jam packed with nutrition it puts others to shame. While all of Jamba’s Fruit & Veggie Smoothies are winners, the Apple ‘N Greens Smoothie walks away with top honors thanks to a veggie rockstars like carrots, spinach, bell peppers, kale and spirulina. One 16-ounce serving pours nearly two-and-a-half times your day’s vitamin A and nearly your entire daily dose of vitamin C for a strong immune system. With 6 grams of filling fiber, 5 grams of protein and 220 calories, it promises to keep you satisfied for hours.
Craving something cool and caffeinated? A medium iced latte from Einstein Bros Bragels hits the spot. Ask for yours with nonfat milk and you’ll shave off some serious fat and calories - and get 16 ounces of refreshment for a surprisingly low 95 calories and zero grams of fat. You’ll also score a third of your day’s calcium and 11 grams of high-quality protein.
Among its dizzying array of coffee drinks, frappes, shakes, and smoothies, McDonald’s serves up a winner. Its small, 12-ounce, nonfat latte packs as much calcium and protein as you’d get from a glass of milk, all for only 90 calories and zero grams of fat. Pair it with a Fruit and Maple Oatmeal for a hearty breakfast or an order of apple slices for a satisfying snack.
One of the best nutrition bargains at Seattle’s Best is a tea drink. For only 140 calories and zero fat grams you can walk away with a chai latte that’s way skinnier than the competition. And if you don’t do dairy, you can still drink up. This spicy elixir is also available in a 150-calorie soy version. Did we mention that each variety packs 20% of your daily calcium, too?
Sometimes simpler is better. Skip the souped-up coffee drinks and order a small, zero-calorie green tea at Dunkin' Donuts. You’ll get a cupful of flavonoids, antioxidants that have been shown to prevent cancer and improve heart health. You’ll get a mental boost, too. Green tea contains theanine, a compound that enhances energy and concentration, without the jitters you get from all the caffeine in a cup of coffee.
Who says fast food has to be filled with fat? While many fast food restaurants like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Subway now offer lowfat milk, Burger King is the only one to serve their moo juice fat free. That means fewer calories (90 calories total), zero fat, and a healthy dose of potassium to offset the blood-pressure-raising effects of some of those fast-food menu items.