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June 23, 2016 05:55 PM

Harley Pasternak is a celebrity trainer and nutrition expert who has worked with stars from Halle Berry and Lady Gaga to Robert Pattinson and Robert Downey Jr. He’s also a New York Times best-selling author, with titles including The Body Reset Diet and The 5-Factor Diet. His new book 5 Pounds is out now. Tweet him @harleypasternak.

At our local grocery store this week, there was a “summer cocktail” display set up with a bunch of fixins’, including a variety of pre-made mixers. Margarita, daiquiri, pina colada mix — the works. I’m not a big drinker (see my blog on the surprising ways alcohol hurts your diet) but I do love a good margarita when it’s as hot as it’s been in Los Angeles.

When I picked up a couple of the mixers and took a look at the ingredients and nutrition facts I was floored. To say they’re calorie bombs would be an understatement. Not to mention the ingredients are mostly a corn syrup and preservative soup. Let’s take a look at the pre-mixed offenders — I used the most popular brand at the store for each, and used the basic recipe for each that they put on the label — and compare them to some lighter, from-scratch alternatives.

Just so you can see how much sugar is hiding in the mixes, I offered a comparison in terms of sugar cubes below each.

This classic summer cocktail is typically made of tequila, triple sec and lime juice. This combo naturally has almost no sugar, so how does the mix justify 24 grams?

Mix Recipe
4.5 oz. mix, 1.5 oz. tequila, ice
220 calories, 24g sugar
= approximately 12 sugar cubes per drink

Light Recipe from Scratch
1 oz. tequila, 1/2 oz. triple sec, 1.5 oz. lime juice (fresh), ice, salt
122 calories, 2g sugar
Almost half the calories and less than one-tenth of the sugar

Pina Colada
At a whopping 52 grams of sugar, the Pina Colada won the title of worst mix on the shelf. For the ‘light’ version, I went back to basics with a scratch recipe, only I replaced the coconut cream with light coconut milk. It’s not as thick and foamy as with full-fat coconut cream, but I swear it’s just as delicious.

Mix Recipe
4 oz. mix, 1.25 oz. light rum, ice
328 calories, 52g sugar
= approximately 26 sugar cubes per drink

Light Recipe from Scratch
1.25 oz. light rum, 3/4 cup diced fresh pineapple, 2 oz. light canned coconut milk, ice
194 calories, 12g sugar
Almost half the calories and less than a quarter of the sugar

WATCH THIS: Celeb Trainer Harley Pasternak Shares a Go-To Move to Get Buns like Beyoncé

Strawberry Daiquiri
Pre-made Strawberry Daiquiri mixes seem about as good as melted candy to me. In my from-scratch version, you’re cutting calories but definitely not taste. And not a drop of corn syrup to be seen!

Mix Recipe
4 oz. mix, 1.25 oz light rum, ice
286 calories, 44g sugar
= approximately 22 sugar cubes per drink

Light Recipe from Scratch
1.25 oz. light rum, 4 oz, fresh strawberries, 1/2 oz. fresh lime juice, ice
113 calories, 5g sugar
Less than half the calories and one-tenth of the sugar

This Cuban classic and favorite of Ernest Hemingway tastes just like vacation, and when it’s brutally hot, the refreshing mint of this cocktail makes all the difference. There are a bunch of ways to put a spin on the classic white rum/mint/club soda mix, but I recently had one with mint chip whiskey instead of rum, and it blew my mind, so I’ll share that recipe below.

Mix Recipe
4 oz. mojito mix, 2 oz. light rum, club soda, ice
240 calories, 26g sugar
= approximately 13 sugar cubes per drink

Light Recipe
2oz. mint chip whiskey, 2 oz. soda, fresh mint leaves, ice cubes.
(Tip: slap the mint with your hands first before you mix to release its flavor and aroma)
150 calories, 12g sugar
Almost half the calories, half the sugar and way more exciting

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