May 22, 2018
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Are you drinking too many extra calories?

By Georgia Clark-Albert, Special to the BDN

To gain weight, you need to eat and drink more calories than you are expending. If weight gain isn’t your goal, but it is happening anyway, maybe you need to take a look at what you are drinking. Often clients will report to dietitians that they don’t eat a lot and they don’t understand why they aren’t losing weight. I’ve found this to be true in some cases — clients aren’t eating their calories, but instead are unknowingly drinking them.

In the past few years many of the fast food chains have seen significant profit increases as the result of selling cold beverages. McDonald’s recently reported their eighth consecutive quarter of profit growth. They attributed part of the increase to their concentration in selling cold beverages. Drinks give 80 percent of its price to profit, where items such as cheeseburgers only give 60 percent. High volumes of sales of frozen strawberry lemonade and real fruit smoothies in wild berry, mango pineapple and strawberry banana flavors have made a great impact on the profit margin for McDonald’s. As the price of meat increased dramatically, McDonald’s relied more on the promotion of the McCafe beverages. They utilized menu boards and table tents and slowly built up the consumer’s demand for gourmet drinks.

Many of us like to stop at the local drive-thru on the way to or from work and get a cold drink this time of year. If you do this infrequently that is fine. But if your car knows the quickest route to a Coolatta then you might be in trouble. Having a treat once in a while shouldn’t cause you to gain weight, if you balance the rest of your daily intake, but remember one pound of weight gain occurs with every 3,500 extra calories.

The blame can’t just be attributed to the beverages at McDonald’s. Many chains are providing frozen beverages. A Dunkin’ Donuts large coolatta will give you a whopping 28 grams of artery clogging fat — as much as you would get in a piece of the Cheesecake Factory’s Original Cheesecake. Cold Stone Creamery’s Lotta Caramel Latte Shake will provide a staggering 1,320 calories and 39 grams of saturated fat. You might just as well eat it and go to bed — you are pretty much done with your calorie intake for the day. Dairy Queen, not to be left out, offers a Mocha Moo Latte that will set you back 590 calories and 15 grams of fat.

Before your next trip to the local fast food place get on your computer and check out your favorite beverage — do you realize how many calories are in a small serving? Is it worth it? A few examples:

McCafe Smoothies

Mango Pineapple 12 oz (small): 220 calories

Strawberry Banana 12 oz (small): 210 calories

Frappe Caramel 12 oz (small): 450 calories

Frappe Mocha 12 oz (small): 450 calories

Dunkin’ Donuts

Blue Raspberry Coolatta (small): 240 calories

Coffee Mocha Coolatta with cream (small): 490 calories

Caramel Mocha Iced Coffee with cream (small): 180 calories

Iced Dark Roast Coffee with cream and sugar (small): 130 calories

Vanilla Latte 12 oz (small): 230 calories

Mocha Latte 12 oz (small): 280 calories

Tim Hortons

Mixed Berry Fruit Smoothies (no yogurt) 10 oz: 130 calories

Mixed Berry Fruit Smoothie (with yogurt) 10 oz: 150 calories

Iced Cappuccino, small with cream 10 oz: 250 calories

Iced Cappuccino Supreme, hazelnut small with milk, 10 oz: 240 calories

Dairy Queen

Frozen Hot Chocolate 21 oz: 860 calories

Strawberry Breeze 9.4 oz (small): 320 calories

Strawberry Banana DQ Glacier Smoothy 22.3 oz: 670 calories

For the rest of the summer if you are going through the drive-thru for a frozen concoction — think before you drink! If your favorite frozen delight contains milk or cream, ask for it prepared with low-fat or skim milk. Consider choosing the smallest serving available and don’t make it a daily habit but an infrequent treat.

Georgia Clark-Albert is a registered dietitian who lives in Athens. Read more of her columns and post questions at or email her at

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