Mass in Motion: Rethink your drink

Learn how you can choose healthier beverages.

Table of Contents

Cut the sugar

Choose healthier beverages

Sodas, fruit-flavored juices and other sugary drinks pack a lot of calories and no nutrients. Next time you’re thirsty, rethink your drink. Choose water, seltzers, plain low-fat (1%) or fat-free milk. They can quench your thirst just as well - without adding extra calories.

  • Drink plain, flavored, or carbonated water instead of sodas and fruit drinks
  • Have a water bottle within reach throughout the day to quench your thirst
  • Buy low-fat (1%) or non-fat milk vs. whole milk
  • Add fresh fruit or a splash of 100% fruit juice, like cranberry juice, to plain sparkling water
  • Sweeten coffee and tea with calorie-free sweeteners and low-fat (1%) or non-fat milk
  • When you have a sugary drink, go for a smaller size, like an 8-oz can or bottle
  • Limit your intake of energy drinks; a single container contains an unbelievable 16-18 teaspoons of sugar
  • Enjoy a sports drink only after intense physical activity, but not after moderate physical activity or as an everyday beverage. Your body needs water!

Facts about sugar-sweetened beverages

What is a sugar-sweetened beverage?

Non-diet sodas, sweetened teas, sports drinks, energy drinks, sweetened waters and juices, and blended coffee drinks are all considered sugar-sweetened beverages.

How much sugar is there in a sugar-sweetened beverage?

A single 20-ounce serving of a sugar-sweetened drink can contain 16 teaspoons of sugar. Excessive sugar intake can lead to obesity and diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension and some forms of cancer.

What’s the alternative to sugar-sweetened beverages?

Drink water, seltzer or flavored waters with little or no added sugar. Beware of drinks that claim to be packed with vitamins, antioxidants or other healthful ingredients – they are often loaded with sugar.

Myths vs. reality

Myth: Vitamin waters, flavored coffee drinks, smoothies and energy drinks are a smarter beverage choice.

Reality: While people think these drinks are innocent or “healthy,” they often contain an alarming amount of sugar and calories. Even 100% juice contains high levels of sugar-producing carbohydrates, and should be limited to six ounces per day.

Myth: Lack of exercise is the biggest cause of obesity.

Reality: Exercise is essential to good health, but it’s much easier to limit calorie intake instead of consuming too much and trying to burn it off with exercise. To burn off the calories from just one 16-ounce sugar-sweetened drink, the average adult would have to walk briskly for 45 minutes, or about 3 miles.

Myth: So I should just look for the word “sugar” on nutrition labels?

Reality: Sugar comes in many forms and with many names. Search nutrition labels for ingredients such as: sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fruit juice concentrates, glucose, honey, invert sugar, molasses, sucrose, syrup or cane sugar.

How many sugar packets are you consuming?

Want to know how many sugar packets are in your sugar-sweetened beverage? Look at the Nutrition Label on the container. Locate “Sugar” on the list and note the number of sugar grams. Divide the number of grams by 4. For example: If your drink has 60 grams of sugar, divide 60 by 4. That equals 15 teaspoons of sugar!

÷ 4  The number of sugar packets in a product = the grams of sugar divided by 4

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