Hidden Carbs and Calories In Sweetened Beverages
Having sweetened beverages throughout the day can quickly add extra sugar and calories to your daily recommended amounts. As a result, people who drink sweetened beverages can end up consuming many more calories and sugar than they need each day. Drinking sugary drinks has been shown to lead to Type 2 diabetes and/or weight gain. Cutting out as much added sugar as possible can greatly help with maintaining more stable blood sugars, decreasing medication used, weight loss, and more.
If you are ready to cut out sugary, sweet drinks or have already been working on this goal, you may have already found that it can be difficult to understand which beverages are filled with sugar. Here are some tips:
Read the nutrition label
- Always look at the Total Carbohydrate amount on the label. Ideally, it’s best to drink beverages without any carbohydrates.
- Take a look at some beverages you have at home or that you used to drink and compare them to others that you think are healthier choices.
Familiarize yourself with ingredients
Many different sweeteners are added to beverages, here is a list of some you may see, these all contain sugar:
- High Fructose Corn Syrup
- Malt Syrup
- Evaporated Cane Juice
- Fruit juice concentrate
Non-nutritive sweeteners are OKAY for diabetics – they make foods sweet but do not raise blood sugar or add calories because they are used in such small quantities. If you tolerate them, go ahead and use them.
Know what’s in your coffee and tea – they can often have added, hidden sugars and sweeteners.
Ideas to help you drink more water or other beverages:
- Add lemon, lime, berries, apples, oranges, cucumber or mint for flavor
- Try sparkling water
- Have a pitcher or glasses of water at the table every time you eat a meal
- Take water in a reusable water bottle to work with you
- When you feel like snacking, try to drink water instead
- Add a splash of 100% fruit juice to chilled water
- While these are not a replacement for water, make coffee or tea yourself or buy them unsweetened and add a little of your own sweetener or milk
Drinks to avoid:
- Juice drinks
- Sweetened coffee drinks such as mochas, lattes, or blended coffee beverages
- Vitamin water
- Energy drinks
- Sweetened iced tea
- Fruit punch
- Alcoholic beverages (see the handout regarding diabetes and alcohol – alcoholic beverages can add extra calories and affect blood sugars)
One last thought: be aware of trying to reward yourself for eating or drinking fewer sugary beverages or snack foods throughout the day. Studies have shown that often times we think we saved calories by not drinking sweetened beverages then think we can “afford” to spend the calories on eating something else later in the day. For example, “I didn’t have a mocha with whipped cream for breakfast, so now I will have a slice of cake after lunch.” It’s important to eat real, wholesome and hearty meals rather than artificially sweetened junk foods and beverages.