6 surprising high-calorie drinks that are just as sugary as cola

You know soda is unhealthy, but these 7 unexpected drinks have more calories than cola and often more sugar too! Swapping out soda is usually a good idea, but swapping to a sugary, high-calorie drink can be almost as bad for you. If you’re putting in a ton of time walking for fitness, don’t let your 10,000 steps of calorie burning go to waste. Knowing more about what you put into your body means your walking and eating can work together to help you maintain a healthy weight and feel great.

These 7 drinks have more calories per ounce than soda, and most have more sugar as well. We’ve adjusted the counts to a 12-oz basis so you can compare a can of soda with a comparable amount of each drink too!

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Fruit juices

Colorful fruit and fruit juices in glasses
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While fruit juice seems healthier because it’s made from fruit, in reality most fruit juices have as much or more calories and sugar than soda. A cup of juice actually takes around 3 apples or oranges, but it’s quicker to drink than eating a single piece of fruit and less filling too.

Whole fruits are packed with fiber, which can’t be fully digested by your body. Fiber gives fruit more volume, and takes up space in your stomach which helps you feel more full. Because juicing typically only retains the sugary, carb-heavy portion of the fruit, you can drink a lot of juice without feeling full at all. It’s not always obvious just how much of the fruit is lost to juicing.

Whole fruit also simply takes longer to eat! Eating slowly can help you feel more full, as signals from your stomach to your brain can take a few minutes to actually arrive. Just taking that extra time to finish an apple or orange can help reduce your sugar intake. Drinking fruit in juice form (even pulpy juice) is simply easier and quicker to consume. You might drink two glasses of juice and only then realize your stomach feels full. By that time, you’ll have taken in a lot of calories.

Coffee drinks

High-calorie blended coffee beverage
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While black coffee is essentially calorie-free, most popular coffee drinks actually have a significant amount of fat and calories. Blended coffee drinks are closer to milkshakes than coffee, but even a standard milk coffee drink can be a huge calorie sink – especially if it’s loaded with sugary syrup or flavoring.

Lattes and milk drinks

A standard latte could have the same calorie count as an equivalent amount of soda (!), though it has less sugar and more fat from the milk content. For flavored versions, the standard 3 pumps of full-sugar syrup adds about 60 calories and 15g sugar, giving it almost 50% more calories than the same amount of soda! Coffee drinks are a clear example of how someone could start off with a zero calorie beverage (black coffee) and end up with a high calorie count through add-ins alone.

Blended coffee drinks

Blended iced coffee drinks should really be considered desserts or milkshakes rather than coffee. They’re full of sugary syrup, whole milk, and chocolate sauce or other high-cal ingredients. While they can have their place as an occasional treat, many people treat a blended beverage as a standard morning coffee and take in all of that sugar and calories.

There are ways to find lower-calorie versions that skip the whipped cream and much of the sugar syrup, but you’re still looking at soda-like calorie counts.


Colorful fruit smoothies and fruit
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While smoothies may be delicious and contain fruit and yogurt, among other things, they’re much closer to blended coffee drinks or milkshakes than low-cal or healthy beverages. A better comparison might be a meal replacement, rather than a snack or drink. A smoothie is typically fruit juice PLUS a bunch of other ingredients which may or may not be high in calories. If you add even “healthy” ingredients like whole fruit and protein powder, you’re just adding to the overall calorie count of the smoothie.

Smoothies are often sold in much larger cups than soda, so you’re getting more calories and sugar both from a calories per-oz perspective and from a total calories perspective. The upside of smoothies is if they’re made from yogurt, whole fruit and a protein source then at least you’re getting real nutrition with your calories.

Sweetened iced tea

Tea, like coffee, is essentially zero calories but sweeteners like milk, honey, or sugar can pack on calories. Unsweetened iced tea is a great beverage and still zero calorie, but many commercially sold iced teas are very sweet.

How many calories and how much sugar really depends on how “sweet” your sweet tea really is. Companies are waking up to consumers wanting healthier beverages, and most sell more lightly sweetened versions. Make sure to check the calorie count and the size of your favorite tea to ensure that it’s not sweeter than a soda!


Light and dark draft beers in glasses
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  • Beer: 155 Cal/13g carbs (12oz)
  • Wine: 295 Cal/8g carbs (12oz)
  • Vodka: 776 Cal/0g carbs (12oz)*
  • Cola: 149 Cal/39g sugar (12oz)

*Note: Few people would actually drink 12oz of hard alcohol. Listed only as a comparison to a soda

Few people think of alcohol as health food, but many people also overlook the calorie content of alcohol and alcoholic beverages. Pure alcohol itself has around 7 calories per gram, while carbs have around 4 (fat has 9 calories per gram). Beer contains some carbs but less alcohol, which explains why its calorie count is similar to that of soda. While you may not drink as much volume in wine or hard alcohol, it’s much more calorie-dense.

If you’re drinking mixed drinks, like a rum and cola, you’d have to also account for the calorie count of the cola as well. Simply switching to diet or zero-cal cola doesn’t mean your drink is diet or low-calorie either. This doesn’t mean that you can never enjoy alcoholic beverages. f you’re trying to lose weight and having difficulty finding areas to reduce calories, looking at your alcohol consumption is a good place to start.

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