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

Label Decoder: Cane Juice

Have you been reading your food labels lately? You may have seen the sweetener “cane juice” under the list of ingredients. But is it really better than sugar?

5 Pieces of Diet Advice You're Better Off Skipping

When the New Year comes and weight loss promises made, diet advice soon follows – and lots of it. Wade through the sea of dieting advice by ignoring these 5 suggestions.

5 Bad Dieting Tips To Ignore

Don't eat fruit, avoid dairy . . . some dieting tips are just bad. Find out 5 of the most common misconceptions so you can tune them out.

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.

Low-Fat Foods: Good or Bad?

Low fat is out and healthy fat is in. Does that mean the era of low fat cookies is over? Not necessarily. Find out which fats are now recommended and how low fat foods can fit into a healthy diet.

Sweet Alternatives to Sugar

Looking for a creative replacement for processed table sugar? These four natural sweeteners can bring new flavors and different levels of sweetness to your favorite recipes.

News Feed: Fish and Brains, Sugar in Fruit, Pomegranate Healthfulness

Eating fish may aid your brain, sugar in fruit beats sugar in soda — plus, parsing pomegranates and health.

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.

This Week's Nutrition News Feed

In this week's news: Mondays get even more meatless; the world learns what happens when a household bans sugar (hint: a book deal); and coupon-clipping takes a healthier turn.

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?