The 9 Worst Fat Traps of the Season

Article posted in: Diet & Nutrition

When the weather heats up, you move more, sweat more, and find lots of reasons to eat more—from barbecues to vacation snacks to trading in coffee for something that will cool you down. And you deserve to celebrate: You survived another winter! But you can enjoy yourself and tons of treats while still staying on track. Avoid these nine warm weather fat traps that are hiding something (hint: it’s tons of extra calories), and try one of our smart swaps instead.

1. Starbucks: Grande Citrus Green Tea Frappuccino (with whipped cream and whole milk):
Calories: 410
Carbs: 70 grams
Sugar: 69 grams

The word is out on Frappuccinos: They’re basically milkshakes, with many coming in over 400 calories. On any grande Frap, dropping the whipped cream is a good start. You’ll save 110 calories right away. And switching from whole to nonfat milk can save you another 30 calories.

But this offering … it’s green tea! And citrus… that’s fruit! It’s diet-friendly, right? Wrong. It has more calories, carbs and sugar than another Frap called a “Cupcake Creme.” Surprising, right? Sure, you could swap the whole milk for the nonfat, and skip the whip, but you’re still looking at 290 calories, 67 grams of carbs and 66 grams of sugar—quite a lot for a drink.

Try this instead: Make your own cup of green tea then put it in the fridge to chill. Pour it in your blender along with a half cup of ice and a half cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk, a squeeze of lemon and a teaspoon-and-a-half of honey for a refreshing and guilt-free swap that counts as two Extras on Nutrisystem.

Although we recommend avoiding designer coffee shop drinks altogether, if you’re really craving a cold coffee drink at your local Starbucks, try the unsweetened Teavana® Shaken Iced Black Tea Lemonade, which is lower on sugar and carbs, and boasts 45 calories—you’ll burn off three just trying to remember the name.

*Nutritional information taken from www.starbucks.com on 4/13/2016.

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2. Panera Power Kale Caesar Salad
Calories: 600
Sodium: 1,280 mg

Maybe you’re thinking that only a crazy person would order a fast food salad and think it’s healthy. But it’s no stretch to believe that dieters would think that this salad is a low-calorie option: It’s got kale!

Yet somehow, this 600-calorie bowl of greens only has three grams of fiber. It has a little more than half of your day’s allocation of sodium. It even has more calories than a Panera Chicken Cobb salad (560), and that’s before they serve it with a side of bread.

Try this instead: Order the Classic with Chicken Salad and opt for a whole grain roll on the side. You’ll get the protein from the chicken, the fiber and carbs from the roll, and lots of nutrient-dense veggies, all for just 430 calories and 610 mg of sodium.

*Nutritional information taken from www.panera.com on 4/13/2016.

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3. Sonic Watermelon with Rainbow Candy Slush: Large
Calories: 730
Sugar: 186 grams

This slush has almost as much sugar as 20 cups of watermelon! No wonder this slush—again, a slush!—has more than half of many folks’ recommended daily calories.

Forgive us if we’re starting to sound like a broken record here, but when sweet treat cravings strike, we suggest giving a Nutrisystem® indulgence a try. The Ice Cream Sandwich is a fan favorite that comes in at just 130 calories and 10 grams of sugar.

But if you simply can’t ditch the drive-through, there are certainly better options than this sugar-slush. Obviously, our pick is the apple slices, which clock in at a mere 35 calories, and provide fiber and other nutrients. Order two to three of these little packets, and you’ve got yourself a pretty great SmartCarb pick. But if you’re really craving something sweet and cold, and are feeling like you have to indulge, the “real fruit” slushes at Sonic are a little less diet-destructive than the Candy Slushes. Opt for the smallest size (at Sonic, this is called the Wacky Pack®) Lemonberry Real Fruit Slush or the Strawberry Real Fruit Slush, which both clock in at 160 calories and 100 fewer grams of sugar than the Watermelon with Rainbow Candy Slush.

*Nutritional Information taken from www.sonic.com and the USDA National Nutrient Database on 4/13/2016.

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4. McDonald’s McFlurry with M&Ms
Calories: 650
Fat: 23 grams
Carbs: 96 grams
Sugar: 89 grams
Saturated Fat: 14 grams

The tiny snowstorm in that little 12-ounce cup spikes your blood with more sugar than six McDonald’s apple pies. That’s probably because McDonald’s ice cream has sugar as the second, fifth and eighth ingredients in its list (as sugar, “corn syrup solids,” and dextrose).

If you’re screaming for ice cream, we suggest giving a Nutrisystem® frozen treat a try. Our customers love the Orange Cream and Fudge Bars, which are delicious ways to quell frozen sweet treat cravings without the guilt.

But, if you really can’t help but indulge at the Golden Arches, try the Vanilla Reduced Fat Ice Cream Cone: It’s got 170 calories—a McTriple’s-worth less than the McFlurry—and less than a quarter of the sugar and fat.

*Nutritional information taken from www.mcdonalds.com on 4/11/2016.

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5. From the Ice Cream Truck: Vanilla King Cone
Calories: 250

In the grand scheme of this list, the Vanilla King Cone isn’t THAT bad. But the 250 calories are hardly worth it, if you ask us: The ice cream in a king cone is kind of chalky, the cone is always a little stale, and once you get past the toppings, it’s just a regular ice cream cone—made of sub-par ice cream in a soggy cone.

You can get better ice cream at just about any scoop shop in America (not to mention on your Nutrisystem menu!). If you choose to skip out on your Nutrisystem sweet treats, choose something that won’t totally derail your progress, like a red, white and blue bomb pop or a fudgsicle, both of which have just 40 calories.

*Nutritional information taken from www.caloriecount.com on 4/11/2016.

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6. Rita’s Regular Size Wild Black Cherry Ice
Calories: 310
Sugar: 69 grams

Most lists of the “worst foods” find the wildest, biggest, most ridiculous dish on a fast food menu, then try to blow your mind with the idea of a 5,000-calorie appetizer. At Rita’s, that might be something like the large Chocolate Peanut Butter Misto (a mix of custard and ice) with coffee custard. It’s 950 calories, which is a lot for a roadside frozen treat. But it seems calorie-heavy, loaded with peanut butter cups and ice cream.

The real trap is something like this: A regular-size black cherry ice has 310 calories. That’s a “regular” amount of calories for a light meal, not a dessert to cool off. Plus, its got 69 grams of sugar.

You’re better off sticking with your Nutrisystem desserts. Or whipping up some frozen bananas and frozen cherries for a tasty treat that fits with your program. But, if you simply can’t resist Rita’s, downsize to the kids’ sized cup and you’ll keep your calories below the 200 mark.

*Nutritional information taken from www.ritasice.com on 4/11/2016.

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7. Dunkin’ Donuts: Frozen French Vanilla Swirl Coffee Coolatta with Cream (Medium)
Calories: 740
Saturated Fat: 22 grams
Sugar: 96 grams

America can run pretty far on 740 calories of Dunkin’. This frozen drink is a trap because it isn’t an obvious dessert flavor like cookie dough or “Butter Pecan Swirl.” It’s just vanilla, coffee, cream and ice … but it has more calories than a Whopper from Burger King, and more sugar than the McFlurry.

Just about every “Coolatta” is a trap, but Dunkin’s iced options are much easier to swallow: The medium French Vanilla Swirl Iced Coffee clocks in at 170 calories for a medium, 120 for the small. Still we recommend just brewing your own cup of black French Vanilla coffee, popping it in the freezer to chill, then blending it with ice and a bit of unsweetened vanilla almond milk for a guilt-free take on these caffeinated treats.

*Nutritional information taken from www.dunkindonuts.com, www.burgerking.com and www.mcdonalds.com on 4/13/2016.

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8. At the Barbecue: Homemade Mayonnaise-Based Potato Salad
Calories: 358 per cup
Fat: 20 grams

A proper serving of potato salad would be a half-cup, but who really eats half a cup of potato salad? That amount will probably only get you three chunks of potato. Heavily-laden with the pure fat of mayonnaise, it’s no wonder this stuff is so good: It’s carbs, fat and sweetness. Better to eschew this side dish in favor of grilled veggies or, if you really want something creamy, coleslaw: Even the gooey, mayo-heavy offering from KFC comes in at just 170 calories per one side-dish serving, so homemade is likely even lighter. But if you love potato salad and can make it yourself for the family cookout, try reducing the amount of mayo by three-fourths, and adding in mustard instead. You’ll save a ton of calories, and add flavor as well. Make sure to opt for reduced fat mayo.

Still, our best suggestion is for you to bring along your own healthy recipe to the festivities. That way, you know you’ll at least have one guilt-free option on hand. Here’s a delicious recipe for Spicy Peanut Slaw your taste buds (and your waistline) will love.

*Nutritional information obtained from the USDA National Nutrient Database and www.kfc.com on 4/11/2016.

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9. At the Fair: Funnel Cake
Calories: 579
Fat: 29 grams
Sugar: 43 grams

No surprise here: It’s fried dough, so of course it’s heavy with calories. But it’s astonishing just how many are in just a five-ounce serving (this one from Nathan’s Famous)—more than a Big Mac, and more sugar than a Snickers bar.

You know it’s bad when you’re actually better off with a corn dog: The one at Nathan’s has 380 calories, which is still plenty, but is closer to an actual (high-fat, high-sodium) meal. But if you love fairs—and love funnel cake—the better solution may be to make like a kindergartner: Share it. Enjoy a few bites, and spread the rest around to family and friends.

*Nutritional information taken from www.nathansfamous.com, and www.snickers.com on 4/13/2016.