How to Cut the Sugar from Summer Drinks

We consume over three times the daily recommended amount of added sugar each day, and sugary beverages are one of the main contributors to this sugar overload.
Related To:

This country is on a never-ending sugar high! We consume over three times the daily recommended amount of added sugar each day. One easy way to drop your sugar intake is to skip the sugary mixes and bottled beverages and take control of how much sugar’s in your drinks.

Sugar Overload

The American Heart Association recommends that women should eat no more than 6 teaspoons (100 calories) of sugar each day, while men shouldn’t eat more than 9 teaspoons (150 calories). Studies reveal that we’re overindulging on added sugar, consuming 475 calories of added sugar every day.

Close to 40% of added sugar comes from sugary drinks like soda, sports and energy drinks, according to published data in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.  A 16-fluid ounce container of a sports drink has 7 teaspoons of added sugar (105 calories) while the same amount of soda has over 12 teaspoons of added sugar (180 calories). Energy drinks are full of added sugar too, with an 8.3 fluid ounce can of a popular brand containing 6.5 teaspoons (98 calories).

A Touch of Sweetness

Homemade drinks are a great way to go, but dumping cups of sugar (in any form) will sabotage a perfectly healthy drink.  Whether you use maple syrup, agave, brown sugar, or plain old white sugar, it’s important to remember that a little goes a long way.

As a rule of thumb, use a max of 2 teaspoons of sweetener per serving. Remember, start with less and slowly add more as needed—especially since some sweeteners are sweeter than sugar.

If you prefer granulated sugar, using simple syrup can help cut down on how much sugar use. Simple syrup is an equal ratio of sugar and water heated on your stove-top until the sugar dissolves into the water, making a sweet syrup. This mixture will dissolve evenly in your beverage so you don’t get sugar tidbits floating everywhere, or worse, in a clump at the bottom of your drink.

Getting Creative

Sugar isn’t the only way to flavor cool drinks. Here are some suggestions:

  • Add a splash of cranberry juice to seltzer.
  • Add watermelon ice cubes to lemonade.
  • Toss fresh mint into a batch of lemonade.
  • Mix thinly slice cucumbers into a pitcher of cold water.
  • Muddle fresh berries and add to seltzer or sparkling water.
  • Try Ellie’s berry cubes in iced tea.
  • Try one of these creative ways to flavor up your water.
TELL US: How do you sweeten your favorite summer sipper?
Keep Reading

Next Up

How to Make Meringue: A Step-by-Step Guide

Follow these step-by-step tips to learn how to make two styles of meringue: French (as used on a pie) and Swiss (which is cooked and used, for example, in buttercream); then see more in a how-to video.

This Week's Nutrition News Feed

In this week's news: The World Health Organization doesn't sugarcoat its advice; fruits and vegetables feel the love -- even in school cafeterias; and food labels get ready for their makeover.

Reading List: Trouble For Meat Lovers, Weight Loss Apps and Take Back Your Lunch Break

In this week’s nutrition news: Slashing sugar helps make you healthier, enjoying lunch away from your desk and does the “5 second” rule for germs really exist?

Nutrition News: Healthy Food Choices, Fructose and Trans Fat Under Fire, Top Produce Picks in June

Researchers urge focus on healthy food benefits, fructose study has startling results, the FDA may ban trans fats, and get the top produce pick for June.

Food Labeling: Beware the “Health” Halo

Many folks read food labels to gain better insight on the foods they choose. However, with so many claims plastered on labels things can get really confusing. Even worse, food companies use these claims to push certain products and make you think they’re healthier than they really are. Curious about the top 10 food label boobie traps?

Farewell, My Sweets: The Sugar Shunning Trend

If fat was the star dietary villain for the past few decades, sugar is quickly stepping up to take its place.

Reading List: Alli Linked to Liver Failure, New Sugar Guidelines & Becoming a Locavore

In this week’s nutrition headlines: the danger in taking supplements, American’s drowning in sugar, and the popular weight loss pill Alli is linked to liver failure.

Baking With Sugar Alternatives

Sugar helps make baked goodies puffy, golden brown and moist, but plain granulated sugar isn’t your only option. Whether you’re looking to cut calories, use less processed ingredients or simply change up the flavor, here are some options.

Ask the Dietitian: What's the Difference Between Added and Natural Sugar?

What’s the deal with all they types of sugar out there? Are all sugars created equal? And are all sugars bad?

Nutrition News: Chipotle Unseats Subway, FDA Added-Sugar Label Rules and Soybean Oil Health Effects

Subway cedes top “healthy” chain spot to Chipotle; FDA to require added-sugar info on labels; and a study says soybean oil may be making us fat and diabetic.