Why You Should Think Twice About Drinking Piña Coladas

If you want to get in a tropical mood, there might be no better way than enjoying a piña colada. The cocktail was created in Puerto Rico in the 1950s, according to Forbes. Although there are many different versions of the drink (including non-alcoholic), the classic piña colada is made with rum, pineapple juice, heavy cream, and coconut cream. The ingredients make the drink creamy and sweet, but they also make it a drink high in calories and fat. According to Nutritionix.com, which tracks the nutritional values of foods, a piña colada contains, on average, 656 calories and 7.1 grams of fat. You would have to run for an hour or walk for nearly three hours to burn off the calories in just one piña colada, according to the site.

It doesn't help that some bars and restaurants make their piña coladas with premade mixers filled with sugar or add ice cream, turning a simple indulgence into a fat and sugar bomb.  

Piña coladas aren't exactly healthy

Liquor.com cites tropical-themed restaurant chain Bahama Breeze as offering a piña colada that contains 560 calories, on its list of the unhealthy cocktails to avoid, although to be fair, this isn't a problem unique to Bahama Breeze's version of the drink. 

If you're looking to pack on even more calories, head over to Lucy Buffett's Lulu's in Gulf Shores, Alabama. The restaurant, owned by Lucy Buffett, sister of singer Jimmy Buffett, offers a piña colada made with ice cream. The beverage is so popular that there's a copycat version posted on All Recipes. Called the "Next Best Thing to Lulu's Piña Colada," the recipe calls for frozen piña colada mix, crushed pineapple in syrup, and a cup of vanilla ice cream. Each serving clocks in at 640 calories, 10.6 grams of fat, and 34.9 milligrams of cholesterol. 

Marie Callender's, best known for frozen dinners, makes a piña colada at its Marie Callender's Restaurants and Bakeries, located throughout California, Nevada, and Utah. The beverage contains 92 grams of carbs and 83 grams of sugar — about 31 percent of a person's carb intake, based on an average of 2,000 calories a day. 

A healthier piña colada

If you're still craving the taste of a piña colada and don't want all the calories and fat, there are alternatives. 

A recipe on Wholefully.com offers a piña colada using just coconut milk, white rum, and pineapple juice. This version has 185 calories and 4 grams of fat, but still sates your thirst with considerably less sugar. A Food Network version of a piña colada calls for frozen pineapple chunks, cream of coconut, two kinds of rum, and pineapple juice to make a boozy version that's only 210 calories per serving. 

You can even forget the alcohol and get that same piña colada taste in a smoothie. Hack the Menu shares that smoothie and juice chain Jamba Juice has a piña colada smoothie on its "secret menu." Just ask for one next time you're at a Jamba Juice location. Naked Juice, sold at many grocery stores, also sells a piña colada smoothie made with fresh fruits. This 310-calorie version is also loaded with potassium.