How to Calculate the Amount of Sugar in Drinks

bowl of sugar and spoon

The enemy in your drinks is sugar. And the empty calories it brings may be causing you to gain weight and damaging your teeth.  A United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) survey showed that sugar consumption continues to increase every year and most of that increase was due to people drinking more sweetened beverages.

To figure how much sugar is in your favorite can or bottle, take a look at the label and get ready for some math. Four grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon of sugar. So if a drink has 65 grams of sugar, that’s more than 16 teaspoons of sugar.

Now put on your detective hat. Sugar goes by many names, so don’t be fooled if you don’t see it explicitly on the ingredients list. Look for pseudonyms for the sweet stuff, such as high fructose corn syrup, fructose, fruit juice concentrates, honey, syrup, corn syrup, sucrose, dextrose, maple syrup, agave, and molasses.

If the amount of sugar in a drink doesn’t scare you off, then the excess calories will. If you’re having a 20-ounce bottle of soda, then you’ve just consumed about 240 calories worth of empty calories. Sweetened iced tea in a bottle isn’t a better option—a 16 ounce bottle has 200 calories.

You’re probably thinking about “sugar-free” beverages now. But don’t rely on those diet drinks. Just because they don’t have calories does not mean they are healthy. We’re still not sure of the long-term effects of artificial sweeteners, so I say water or seltzer are the best options to quench your thirst!

How much sugar is in your favorite drink? Post a comment and tell me!

Registered dietician Elizabeth Fassberg runs Eat Food, a New York City-based company that designs and delivers custom food and nutrition programs for businesses, organizations and individuals. She’s coaching the Avagliano family through the six-month Healthy Family Challenge.

One Response to “How to Calculate the Amount of Sugar in Drinks”

  1. 9.75 tsp in a can of coke!