If you are trying to lose weight, manage your blood sugar levels or just trying to be healthier, you might want to think about what your go-to drink is to quench your thirst. You might be surprised by the amount of sugar in your favourite drink!

Here are a few examples, starting with the most obvious to the less obvious:

  • 500 ml bottle of Coke: 14 teaspoons of sugar
  • 500 ml bottle of Fanta Orange: 9 teaspoons of sugar
  • 500 ml bottle of Fanta Grape: 17 teaspoons of sugar
  • 500 ml of ginger beer: 15 teaspoons of sugar
  • 250 ml iced coffee: 7 teaspoons of sugar
  • 500 ml Energade or other sports drink: 10 teaspoons of sugar
  • 250 ml of Red Bull or other energy drink: 8 teaspoons of sugar
  • 500 ml of iced tea: 10 teaspoons of sugar
  • 500 ml Vitamin Water: 7 teaspoons of sugar
  • 250 ml 100% fruit juice: 8 teaspoons of sugar
  • 500 ml flavoured sparkling water: 9 teaspoons of sugar
  • 300 ml commercial smoothie: 10 teaspoons of sugar

To put this into perspective, the standard recommendation is that added sugar or free sugar (in other words, sugar that has been added by you or the product manufacturer) should make up less than 10 % of ones total calorie intake per day. In my opinion though, the lower you can keep this the better. Going with the 10% guideline though, for an average sized adult, this is about 6 teaspoons per day. So you can see that just one of the drinks above has already over-shot the mark, and that is not even counting the added sugar in your breakfast cereal, fruit flavoured yoghurt, tea time muffin or afternoon biscuit.

So what should you be drinking on a day to day basis?

As many of you will know the recommended amount of water to drink per day is somewhere between 1.5 to 2 litres, more if it is very hot or if you are exercising. A lot of people struggle with drinking plain water and complain that they don’t like the taste. Here are some ways of sprucing up your water:

  • Infused water: add mint, lemon, cucumber, oranges or berries to a glass jug of water and refrigerate.
  • Soda water with a squeeze of lemon juice: the fizziness of soda water gives the satisfaction of a fizzy drink without the sugar. Many people question whether soda water is healthy: soda water is simply water that has been carbonated and many of the health risks people associate with it are actually related to fizzy drinks with phosphorus and sugar added to them such as Coke.
  • Home-made iced tea: Pour four cups of boiling water over two berry flavoured back teabags into a heat-proof pitcher and leave for three to five minutes. Remove the teabags. Add four cups of cold water and refrigerate. Add mint, berries or other sliced fruit if desired.
  • Black herbal tea, such as Rooibos, can also contribute to your fluid intake for the day. Obviously this should be sugar or artificial sweetener free!

What about coffee?

Caffeine, within the recommended guideline amounts, has been found to have health benefits. However, should you over do it on a daily basis this can cause you to feel lethargic and sluggish, despite caffeine’s energising effect. Another problem is that if you are adding sugar to each cup of coffee this could also lead to weight gain and metabolic ill-health.

Stick to a maximum of three cups of coffee a day, preferably with no sugar or artificial sweeteners.