Not So Good-for-You Good Morning Beverages

Mom told us that breakfast is the most important meal of the day—and she was correct! However, in our groggy states, how are we supposed to select a healthy, nutritious meal, let alone a sensible beverage, that will fuel our mornings and establish our metabolism for the day ahead?

According to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it’s sneaky beverages (like those listed below) that you really have to watch out for! They discovered that an extra 100 calories in liquid form triggers weight gain faster than 100 excess calories from food, particularly for those who don’t know the nutritional value of what exactly they’re sipping…

Breakfast Smoothies

No matter how much the fruit is stressed in that store- or café-bought fruit smoothie, chances are it’s jam-packed full of excess sugar, fat, and unnecessary calories (i.e., from ingredients like frozen yogurt, ice cream, whipped cream, syrups, and fruits containing added sugars) if you don’t blend it yourself. That’s not saying that fruit smoothies—a combination of fresh or frozen fruit, Greek yogurt or low fat milk, and even a handful of greens—can’t be a healthy breakfast option. They totally can. Just puree your own at home so you’re aware of exactly what you’re slurping.

Sweet Tea

A popular sweet, Southern, morning option, the name sweet tea says it all if you order yours to-go from a local fast-food restaurant. Sure, the tea might give you a blast of morning antioxidants, but the refined sugar added (roughly 4 tablespoons per bottle or medium drink) will ensure your teeth and gums get a sugar bath first thing in the morning.  As an alternative, brew your own tea and sweeten with a teaspoon of natural honey and chill in the fridge.

Alcoholic Brunch Cocktails

If sipping mimosas (orange juice and champagne), Bloody Mary’s (tomato juice and vodka), or Caesars (clamato juice and vodka) is a huge feature at your regular Sunday brunch affairs, you’re likely hurting your health goals. Alcoholic brunch cocktails contain a lot of hidden calories (up to 500 in fact).  And you know darn well how difficult it is to resist a second or third round.

Ready-Made Juice

Do you opt for a carton of orange, grapefruit, or fruit cocktail with your eggs and toast? When it comes to ready-made fruit juices the exotic-flavors are endless. However, just because it’s labeled “fruit” juice—doesn’t mean fruit is the first or even the 5th primary ingredient. Many store-bought juices contain a whole whack of refined sweeteners and added flavors, which in no way resemble fruit and lead to weight gain and dental and decay. Although eating a lot of sugar does not give you diabetes or cardiovascular disease, the weight gain and unhealthy eating habits can contribute. If you want 100-percent natural, juice your own fruit at home or pay close attention to those labels.

Specialty Coffees

Yesterday, at my local coffee shop, I had difficulty finding plain old coffee amongst all of the Frappuccino, macchiato, latte, and cappuccino options on the menu.  The specialty coffees, despite their fancy names, have a few things in common (i.e., whipped cream, full cream, sugar syrups, and even chocolate and candy sprinkles), which fatten up the flavor as well as your midsection. Do your body a favor, by opting for plain coffee or tea with no added fat or calories first thing in the morning.

Chocolate Milk

I’m unsure when chocolate milk became a suitable breakfast beverage. However, unlike regular milk, the chocolate-infused moo juice contains more than double the calories, sugar, and fat of regular skimmed or 1-percent milk first thing in the morning. That means, unless you’re attempting to gain weight, chocolate milk is not a breakfast option mom would approve of.

Infused Waters

If you stock up on pre-bottled infused water because plain old water doesn’t tickle your taste buds, you may be drinking a ton of added sugar and food dyes without even realizing it.  While many “vitamin” waters do boost regular H2O with some value, you will get a greater benefit from squeezing fresh lemon, orange, grapefruit, or lime into water from your tap.

Julie Ching, MS, RDN, CDE

Julie Ching, MS, RDN, CDE

Julie Ching is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator in Los Angeles. She decided to become a Dietitian after traveling through Europe, South America, and Asia and discovered a passion for food. She now works with people of all ages and varying disease states to improve their health. She is passionate about teaching people about nutrition so they can live their best life while still considering their cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.