High-Calorie Drinks & 6 Healthy Alternatives

If you want to lose weight, you’ve got to burn more calories than you consume. But a lot of people forget about high-calorie drinks or “liquid calories”.

What are Liquid Calories? 

In order to calculate the calorie balance, we need to factor in both solid foods and “liquid calories” from beverages. The following drinks are particularly high in calories and not recommended to quench your thirst. We’ve used sugar cubes to help you visualize approximately how much sugar these high calorie drinks actually contain.


These drinks are especially high in calories:

  • Soft drinks, like soda (250 ml) = 105 calories, 9 cubes of sugar
  • Ice tea (250 ml) = 70 calories, 6 cubes of sugar
  • Fruit smoothie (250 ml) = 135 calories, 10 cubes of sugar
  • Orange juice (250 ml) = 115 calories, 8 cubes of sugar
  • Energy drink (250 ml) = 116 calories, 9 cubes of sugar
  • Fruit-flavored buttermilk (250 ml) = 160 calories, 10 cubes of sugar
  • Isotonic drink (250 ml) = 60 calories, 5 cubes of sugar


  • White wine, sweet (250 ml) = 250 calories, 5 cubes of sugar
  • Red wine (250 ml) = 210 calories, 4 ½ cubes of sugar
  • Beer (250 ml) = 100 calories, 0 cubes of sugar
  • Piña colada (250 ml) = 235 calories, 9 cubes of sugar

So, you can see that seemingly “healthy” drinks are anything but low-cal. Most store-bought smoothies, for example, consist mainly of fruit, which explains why their (fructose) sugar content is so high.(1)

Our tip:

Make your own smoothies and always add more vegetables than fruit.

What’s really in those high-calorie drinks?

Soft drinks, sodas, and fruit juices are really sweet, because they’re loaded with sugar (except for light beverages). This not only damages your teeth, high consumption can lead to obesity which increases the risk of developing metabolic disorders like type 2 diabetes. This is a growing problem, as the consumption of soft drinks by children and adolescents has increased dramatically in recent decades.(2)

Alcohol has a whopping 7 calories per 1 g (almost as much as fat) and therefore carries a lot of weight in terms of calories. Alcohol isn’t known as a luxury good for nothing. Do you exercise? Regular alcohol consumption can hurt your performance. 

What is the perfect thirst-quencher?

You should always drink water or unsweetened tea to satisfy your thirst. These have zero calories and rehydrate your body. When it’s hot outside, or you’re training intensely and you sweat a lot, you’re going to lose a lot of fluid. You can calculate your daily liquid requirement using the following calculator:

Which drinks are healthy and low calorie?

Do you get tired of just drinking plain water but you’re also keeping an eye on your liquid calorie consumption? These six drinks are healthy, low calorie, and most importantly: delicious!

1. Naturally flavored water

Infused water” is the new trendy drink. Jazz up your water with fresh berries, ginger, lemon or cucumber slices and fresh herbs. The longer the fruit or vegetable sits in the water, the more intense the flavor will be.

2. Homemade ice tea

Why buy ice tea when it is so easy to make at home? How to do it:

  • Make a pot of black or green tea and let it cool. 
  • Stir in some freshly pressed lemon juice, lemon slices, and mint leaves and put the ice tea in the refrigerator overnight. 
  • If you would like it a little sweeter, you can add a spoonful of honey or some stevia.


Coconut water is high in potassium and can hold its own against most ready-to-drink sports drinks. It is not calorie-free, as 100 ml contains 10 calories. But it is definitely a healthier alternative compared to soft drinks and such. It tastes best when served cool.

4. Vegetable & fruit smoothie

Store-bought smoothies usually contain a lot of sugar. Make your own smoothies to-go right at home. But remember that less is more! Often, all you need is four or five ingredients. Vegetables (cucumber, baby spinach, kale, celery) should always serve as the base of your smoothie. Some fruit, spices (like ginger, turmeric, or cinnamon),  superfood powder, and liquid (like water, coconut water, or almond milk) can then round off your drink.

5. Homemade Lemonade with Mint

Lemonade with mint is an especially refreshing choice on those really hot days. All you need is: 

  • 1 to 2 sprigs of fresh mint 
  • juice of one lemon
  • honey or stevia for flavor 
  • 1.5 liters of cold water
  • ice cubes

Throw everything into a blender and puree it for about 30 seconds. 

6. Melon Smoothie

This refreshing summer drink contains only two ingredients: watermelon and mint. Toss chunks of watermelon (preferrably cold) and a few mint leaves in a blender. Watermelon contains so much water that you don’t need to add any more.


The impact of high-calorie drinks are often underestimated. But these liquid calories can really add up. Quench your thirst with water instead and only indulge in energy drinks, juices, and alcoholic beverages once in a while. 


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