6 Ridiculously Unhealthy Hot Drinks, and What to Drink Instead

Avoid the extra liquid calories and opt for the healthier alternatives. Avoid the extra liquid calories and opt for the healthier alternatives. We can wax poetic about the virtues of green tea and black coffee, but the truth is these low-cal drinks don't satisfy the urge to sip something rich, creamy, and comforting. With coffee shops promoting pumpkin lattes, hot chocolates, and other rich drinks this season, there are plenty of liquid diet wreckers to tempt you as the weather cools down.

"With flavored drinks, the problem is the sugar," explains Marissa Lippert, RD, author of The Cheater's Diet. "At four to five pumps of syrup per drink, you can rack up anywhere from 150 to 300 extra liquid calories." So before you unknowingly knock back a meal's worth of calories, check out our 6 Unhealthy Hot Drinks, plus slimmed-down versions you can sip guilt free.

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Unhealthy Hot Chocolate: Starbucks White Hot Chocolate
You're probably not expecting a light treat when you order hot chocolate anyway, but this frothy concoction is heavier than it appears. Order a whipped cream-topped grande made with 2% milk, and you're guzzling your way to 490 calories and 65% of your saturated fat for the day, as well as more sugar than two Snickers candy bars.

Try this instead: Starbucks Hot Chocolate. Downsize to an 8-ounce serving, ask for skim milk and no whipped cream, and indulge in a chocolate treat that comes in under 200 calories. It will stomp out your chocolate craving for less than half the calories.

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Unhealthy Seasonal Drink: Dunkin' Donuts Pumpkin Coffee With Cream
Yes, it tastes like fall, but in this case, you're better off eating a slice of pumpkin pie than sipping this seemingly harmless coffee. Not only does a large pumpkin coffee with cream contain a whopping 330 calories, but the pumpkin syrup also contains a toothache-causing combination of sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and brown sugar.

Try this instead: Small Dunkin' Donuts Cinnamon Coffee. "Flavored coffees are great for saving calories," says Lippert. For only 15 calories, you get spice-filled flavor guilt free. Add a teaspoon of sugar, and you're still right around 30 calories.

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Unhealthy Espresso Drink: Seattle's Best Classic Mocha

Adding a little chocolate to your coffee seems harmless, right? Wrong. A medium latte contains 190 calories, whereas a medium mocha more than doubles the count to 420 as well as adds more than 50 g of sugar. Unless you like skipping lunch, leave this rich sip with your barista.

Try this instead: Seattle's Best Classic Latte.
Get a nonfat latte and sprinkle some cocoa powder on top for about 100 calories. It's not quite as decadent as the mocha, but at least you'll fit in your jeans tomorrow.

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Unhealthy Caramel Drink: Au Bon Pain Caramel Macchiato
Macchiatos by themselves are a light blend of espresso and steamed milk. However, with the addition of a few caramel "dots," this drink morphs into a full-blown dessert. A medium 16-ounce drink contains 430 calories and more sugar than three of Au Bon Pain's white chocolate chunk macadamia nut cookies.

Try this instead: Au Bon Pain Medium Nonfat Latte With Whipped Cream. Even with the extra 20 calories from the whipped cream, this drink is still less guilt inducing than the macchiato.

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Unhealthy Latte: McDonald's Nonfat Hazelnut Latte

We've already recommended choosing nonfat lattes over other coffee drinks, and with good reason-they're typically right around 100 calories and contain 30% of your daily calcium. Unfortunately, this "light" latte from McDonald's doesn't meet the criteria. A medium nonfat hazelnut latte has a cringe-worthy 220 calories and 55 g of sugar.

Try this instead: McDonald's Small Cappuccino.
"Cappuccinos contain less milk, so you can splurge on full-fat milk," says Lippert. This creamy drink is just 120 calories, but it's rich enough to taste like a treat.

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Unhealthy Apple Cider: Caribou Coffee Apple Blast

Just because it has a fruity name doesn't mean you're sampling a healthy hot drink. This apple cider drink is drowned in caramel and cinnamon syrups, plus whipped cream and a caramel drizzle. A medium size clocks in at 400 calories and 71 g of sugar!

Try this instead: Small Caribou Coffee Northern Lite Berry Mocha. This raspberry drink will fulfill your need for something fruity and chocolatey. But with skim milk and nonfat whipped cream, it comes in at a manageable 185 calories.

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Tell us: What's your favorite cold-weather beverage to warm up with?

--By Mara Betsch, Prevention

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