We have heard the risks for overweight and obesity a health problem that can lead to complications such as diabetes and heart disease, so when it comes to weight management, most people focus on the calories from foods.  However another way to significantly control our calorie intake is to “Think about our Drinks

A large portion of added sugar in the American diet comes from sweetened beverages which are a source of empty, excessive calories which contribute to weight gain.   This means that they have calories but lack other nutrients (protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants).    Calories from drinks are not hidden, they are listed on the Nutrition Facts Labels, but many people don’t realize how many calories they are consuming and these high calories add up.  Here are some facts to increase your awareness of just how liquid calories can contribute to excess calorie intake.

 A 20 ounce bottle of soda has about 250 calories and 68 grams of sugar or 20 ounce bottle of lemonade is 280 calories with 60 grams of sugar.  Both of these popular drinks have 17 and 15 teaspoons respectively.  These drinks do not taste like we’re consuming that much sugar, so how does one really know?  Here’s a tip from CDC‘s   Rethink your Drink 

Learn To Read Nutrition Facts Labels Carefully

Be aware that the Nutrition Facts label on beverage containers may give the calories for only part of the contents. The example below shows the label on a 20-oz. bottle. As you can see, it lists the number of calories in an 8-oz. serving (100) even though the bottle contains 20 oz. or 2.5 servings. To figure out how many calories are in the whole bottle, you need to multiply the number of calories in one serving by the number of servings in the bottle (100 x 2.5). You can see that the contents of the entire bottle actually contain 250 calories even though what the label calls a “serving” only contains 100. This shows that you need to look closely at the serving size when comparing the calorie content of different beverages.


Serving Size 8 fl. oz.
Servings Per Container    

Amount per serving   100 calories

Total calories for  consuming the  20 ounces =  250         


Another tip on the Nutrition Label is to read the grams of sugars. I always convert the grams into teaspoons by dividing the # of grams by 4 (grams to teaspoons)   Example:

20 ounce soda,            68 grams divide by 4 =           17 teaspoons of sugar

 20 ounce lemonade,  60 grams divide by 4 =           15 teaspoons of sugar


Another tip from CDC

Sugar by Any Other Name: How to Tell Whether Your Drink Is Sweetened

Sweeteners that add calories to a beverage go by many different names and are not always obvious to anyone looking at the ingredients list. Some common caloric sweeteners are listed below. If these appear in the ingredients list of your favorite beverage, you are drinking a sugar-sweetened beverage.

·         High-fructose corn syrup ,  Fructose

·         Fruit juice concentrates , Honey

·         Sugar , Syrup, Corn syrup

·         Sucrose , Dextrose


You can still enjoy many drinks, but now use these tips to make healthier choices.

The healthiest choice is to select water as often as possible.  Water is the best beverage for you.  Water contains no calories and it gives you the hydration your body needs.   You can flavor the water with slices of fruit with little or no calories added.  Be sure to check the nutrition label if you are purchasing flavored or enhanced bottled water. These waters often contain sugars and we don’t realize it.    Other healthy drinks are 100% juices in small amounts of 6 ounces per day and low-fat milk such as 1% or skim.  These drinks provide us with the nutrients (protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants) that we are often lacking by drinking other sweetened beverages. 

 For other beverages, check your Nutrition Fact labels and select drinks that contain 15 grams or less of sugar per serving.   If you really want soda, try drinking diet soda.  Diet soda has no calories, which is good, but should be consumed in moderation due to its chemical content of artificial sweeteners (dangerous in large amounts) and phosphorus (negative on bone health).

 Stay tune to the blog as we discuss more of the sour side of sweetened beverages.  Next week we will explore coffee and coffee drinks.