It’s well-known that Americans consume way too much added sugar – statistics show that each person in the USA consumes the equivalent of between 80 and 100 pounds of sugar per year – that’s 167,000 calories from added sugar alone. Crazy! According to statistics published by the National Cancer Institute, soft drinks and fruit drinks are among the top three sources of added sugars in America. In this article we’ll look at 6 drinks you should avoid on a sugar-free diet, low glyemic lifestyle, weight loss plan, or any kind of healthy lifestyle. When buying drinks, always read the labels and don’t drink anything with sugar in the top three ingredients. And don't forget about serving size! The nutrition facts list the sugar content for a specific serving size that is often several times smaller than the total container. Here are the Top 6 Sugar-packed Drinks to Avoid, along with healthy alternatives.
1. Soft Drinks
Soft drinks are bad news. They're the #1 source of added sugars for Americans and provide no nutritional benefits. There is a strong association between soft drink consumption and obesity: from 1977 to 2002, Americans doubled their consumption of sweetened beverages, mirroring and contributing to the doubling of obesity rates. Besides a massive sugar hit, soft drinks also acidify the body, which eventually disrupts the delicate acid-alkaline balance your body needs to maintain for optimal health, especially regarding bones, joints and connective tissues. “Diet” soft drinks are not any better – they trade toxic sugar for toxic artificial sweeteners and several studies suggest that they offer no weight-loss benefits anyway! Healthy Alternative: Kombucha! Kombucha is an ancient fermented tea beverage gaining popularity for its delicious taste and health benefits. Many kombucha varieties are naturally fizzy to satisfy bubble lovers, and because it’s a cultured fermented beverage, kombucha contains live probiotics, vitamins and antioxidants. Take care though: most brands of kombucha sold in stores still have sugar in them (left over from the fermentation process), and kombucha also contains yeast, making it unsuitable for people working on controlling candida.
2. Fruit Drinks
Fruit drinks may appear as healthy options, but your average fruit juice probably contains just as much sugar as your average cola! Advertising would have you believe that because fruit is good, fruit drinks are good, too. But sugar from fresh fruit is not the same as sugar from fruit juice. In fresh fruit, the high fiber content buffers the sugar and lowers the glycemic response, causing only a mild blood sugar increase. Fruit drinks have little to no fiber, so the blood sugar response is quick and sharp (high glycemic). Fruit juices – especially freshly-squeezed and unpasteurized ones – do retain some of the nutritional goodness of fruit. Too bad almost all packaged fruit juices in stores are pasteurized, which means they were heated to kill off microbes. The heat kills bacteria but it also degrades the micronutrients and vitamins that make fruit juice worthwhile in the first place. Healthy Alternative: Fresh Squeezed Juices! If you must have fruit juice, make sure you get it fresh-squeezed and unpasteurized. The best option is to purchase your own “masticating juicer” that squeezes the juice out of the fruit. Juicers that use high-speed spinning metal parts degrade and oxidize the micronutrients in the juice. Take care though, as the sugar content of the fruit juice will still be high and will provoke a strong blood sugar response.
3. Iced Tea
In recent years, green tea has been touted for its antioxidant, anti-cancer and weight loss benefits. Unfortunately, all that potential goodness goes out the window when you add a bunch of sugar or artificial sweetener, like all the soft drink companies do. Healthy Alternative: Lakanto Iced Tea! Make iced tea at home using high quality loose leaf or bagged tea. Add a squeeze of lemon and Lakanto to taste and put it in your travel bottle for an on-the-go sugar-free iced tea.
4. Energy Drinks
Energy drinks contain about three times the amount of caffeine as cola and are often high in sugar, unless they are sweetened by a toxic artificial sweetener like aspartame or sucralose. Most energy drinks rely on a double whammy of caffeine and sugar to deliver a burst of energy, and can also include stimulant herbal ingredients like ginseng, ginkgo biloba and guarana. Besides the harmful effects of added sugar, these stimulant drinks can also affect the behaviour of children and disrupt sleep patterns. Caffeine's a pretty serious drugs! Healthy Alternatives: If you need an energy boost, consider drug-free options like a 20-minute power nap or a brisk walk. A vigorous walk in the fresh air is guaranteed to make you feel better. For an energizing treat, try some delicious Lakanto Sugar-free Chocolate!
Smoothies are super useful for packing lots of nutrition into a quick and easy meal. Sadly, they can be such an "acquired taste" – just ask anyone who just drank their first green smoothie! Smoothies can be a good way to add more fiber, protein and micronutrients into your diet, but if you’re not careful, you may end up with a bunch of sugar too, especially if you’re adding bananas, dates, heaping tablespoons of honey, or get your smoothies at restaurants or juice bars. Always know exactly what’s going into your smoothie, and don’t add sugar. Healthy Alternative: Sugar Free Smoothies! If you can’t quite down that kale-celery-and-cucumber smoothie, add Lakanto to taste. Do you have a great sugar-free smoothie recipe? Please share in the comments! We are looking for new creations to feature on our recipe section and would love to use yours! We'll publish your recipe (with your credit of course) and send you a FREE bag of Lakanto as a thank you.