Did you know that sugar makes up about 1/4 of the calories teens eat and drink in 1 day? The problem with sugar is that sugar doesn’t offer your body nutrients, and sugar can lead to unhealthy weight gain. Soda is 1 major source of sugar. A 20-ounce cola has about 16 teaspoons of sugar in it.
Instead of reaching for a soda when you want something sweet, have some fruit or grab a granola bar and wash it down with some water. If you’re craving a fizzy drink, try some soda or seltzer water with a squeeze of lemon or lime.
Because sodas and other sugary drinks don’t have nutrients to fuel your body right, any energy burst you get from sugary drinks won’t last long. Plus, they’ll leave you hungry. Try fruit instead.
Energy drinks not only give you a jolt of caffeine, but they also serve up a lot of sugar. A 16-ounce can of Monster energy drink has about 200 calories and 54 grams (12 teaspoons) of sugar, which is more than you would find in 3 chocolate chip Pop Tarts.
Drinking fruit whipped in a cup sounds healthy, but smoothies aren’t always healthy drinks. A 16-ounce Orange Dream Machine at Jamba Juice has 350 calories and about 16 teaspoons of sugar. Make your smoothies with real fruit and yogurt or fruit and ice.
Sport drinks are healthy if you work up a sweat, right? But for most teens, they are just overkill. A 20-ounce mountain berry blast PowerAde has 150 calories and 35 grams of sugar (9 teaspoons). If you are working up a real sweat for at least 1 straight hour, you can benefit from electrolytes in sport drinks. But even for a half-hour workout, you are better off sticking to water.
Beverages at coffee shops have more sugar than you know. At Starbucks, a 16-ounce White Chocolate Créme Frappuccino has 79 grams of sugar (19 teaspoons), and is 610 calories. A same-sized Starbucks iced coffee with nonfat milk cuts your sugar to 24 grams. Regular coffee has no sugar, and you control the sugar!
Fruit drinks are mostly empty calories and sugar. It is always better to eat, rather than drink, your daily fruits. This way you also get fiber. If you are going to drink juice, drink only juices labeled “100% Juice,” and stick to just 1 small glass a day. If you have a hard time sticking to 1 glass, try adding lots of ice or some water.
Vitamin-enhanced water sounds healthy but read the labels! Glaceau’s Power-C Vitamin Water offers 120% of your daily Vitamin C and 40% of your B vitamins. But it also has 13 grams of sugar per serving. Since there are 2.5 servings in a 20-ounce bottle, you may be getting more than twice the sugar than you thought! Drinking a whole bottle is like drinking a 12-ounce Coke.
You get calcium from chocolate milk, but you also get way more sugar than you need. A 14-ounce Nesquik chocolate milk has more than 50 grams of sugar (12 teaspoons).
If you don’t like plain milk, look for low-fat, low-sugar flavored milks. Or add a splash of vanilla extract, a teaspoon of chocolate syrup, or a scoop of unsweetened cocoa powder to your low-fat milk at home.
Tea has cancer-fighting antioxidants, but beware of sugar. A 20-ounce bottle of Sobe green tea has 61 grams of sugar, about as much as a same-size cola. Plus, many canned teas have fewer beneficial ingredients than home-brewed green or black tea. To cut back on sugar, brew your own tea and serve hot or over ice.
If you had a soda, juice box, sports drink, and fruity drink in 1 day, that is more than 41 teaspoons of sugar, the same as you’d find in about 38 chocolate chip cookies! If you drank that every day, you’d have to burn off 62 pounds of fat each year. Plus, those drinks have a total of 595 empty calories that give you no nutrition and leave you feeling hungry. Drink water, seltzer, or low-fat milk instead.
Want to get a better picture of what’s inside your drink? Check out the ingredient list and look out for corn syrup or anything that ends in “-ose” such as dextrose, fructose. They are just sugar.
Like sugary drinks? Help yourself kick the habit slowly, 1 step at a time. Try to limit yourself to have only 1 sugary drink a day and, eventually, only 1 a week.
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