You might be shocked to learn how much sugar you are taking in each day just by drinking. See why it’s important to cut back.
Do you know how you get most of your added sugar each day?
You might be surprised to know that you probably drink it.
Sugary drinks are ranked lowest on the health scale. They offer a hefty dose of calories but little to no nutrition in return, and are linked to a whole host of health problems like type 2 diabetes and heart disease if consumed too much.
Sugary drinks do not fill us up, which means the calories we guzzle just get piled onto the daily calorie mix we get from food which can lead us to gain weight, an especially alarming trend seen in kids.
Research also shows that drinking sweet drinks is linked with unhealthy habits all around - people who smoke, eat fast food frequently, and spend more time in front of the screen are also more likely to guzzle them down.
How many sweet drinks are we drinking?
Sugar-sweetened beverages make up the largest source of added sugars in the American diet, even greater than candy, ice cream, cakes, cookies, and pies.
The average person ingests more than 90 lbs of sugar per year, with soda providing the most.
On a typical day, 80% of kids and 63% of adults drink at least one sugary beverage.
What counts as a “sugary drink”?
Sugary drinks are any beverage sweetened with different forms of added sugars like corn syrup, corn sweetener, dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, sucrose, honey, and raw sugar.
These include regular soda, fruit-flavored drinks, energy drinks, flavored milks, sports drinks, sweetened coffee and tea beverages, and vitamin-enhanced waters.
How much sugar can we expect to consume? Just one 12-oz can of regular soda contains 150 calories and 40 grams of sugar. This amounts to a whopping 10 teaspoons of sugar.
What about 100% fruit juice?
Juices made with just fruit do provide some healthy nutrition, especially vitamins like vitamin C.
But they are also often filled with just as much sugar and calories as other sweetened drinks.
What is more, juices of all kinds have one thing in common: they all lack fiber.
No fiber paired with lots of calories is still a recipe for weight gain and other health problems down the road, even if the calories come from sugar that is naturally occuring.
So what to do for those of us who love our fruit juice? The USDA recommends we enjoy most of our fruit whole, but when we do drink them, to limit our consumption to 4 to 6 oz for kids and 8 oz for adults each day.
Ways to cut back
The American Heart Association recommends that we limit our daily sugar to 6 teaspoons (100 calories) for women and 9 teaspoons (150 calories) for men.
Cutting back on sweet drinks is an easy, effective way to help you reach that goal.
Choosing plain tap, bottled, or sparkling water is the best option when you need to hydrate, but if you are looking for other pointers to get your drink on in healthy way, consider these tips:
Add more flavor. If plain water does not excite you, add slices of lime, lemon, or cucumber to brighten up your glass. Berries provide a nice flavor as well.
Make it easy to sustain your water habit. Carry a water bottle wherever you go, and keep a filled jug in the fridge for easy access to refreshing, cold water when at home.
Replace soda with a splash of 100% fruit juice. Add a bit of 100% fruit juice to some sparkling water to give you that same carbonated soda mouth-feel, but for a fraction of the calories.
Choose drinks with nutrition. Fat-free milk or low-sodium vegetable juice can be healthier alternatives to water.
Slim down your coffee beverages. When at the coffee shop, forgo the whipped cream and flavored syrup. Enjoy your coffee black if possible, or go with low-fat or fat-free milk, soy milk, or almond milk to keep your calorie count low.