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Rethink Your Drink

by Amy McClelland, RD - March 8, 2021

Carbonated, sugar-sweetened soft drinks are the single biggest source of calories in the American diet. And non-carbonated, sugar-sweetened drinks (fruit drinks, ades, ice teas) add even more calories.

Have you found your new favorite drink to be decadent and sweet? Prepare to gain weight unless you’re cutting food calories to make up for the extra calories your new indulgence is adding to your daily diet.

We all know that eating and drinking too many calories can equal weight gain. But did you know just 100 extra calories a day can add up to a 10-pound weight gain in one year? This can happen when someone increases their drink calories without decreasing their food calories.


How do I know if a food or drink has added sugar?

A simple way to find out if a drink has added sugar is to check the ingredient list on the package and look for these words:

Agave nectar Caramel Dehydrated cane juice

Glucose solids


Refiner's syrup

Barbados sugar Carob syrup

Demerara sugar

Golden sugar


Rice syrup

Barley malt Castor sugar


Golden syrup



Barley malt syrup Coconut palm sugar


Grape sugar

Maple syrup

Sorghum Syrup

Beet sugar

Coconut sugar

Evaporated cane juice

HFCS (High-Fructose Corn Syrup)



Brown sugar

Confectioner's sugar

Free-flowing brown sugars



Sugar (granulated)

Buttered syrup

Corn sweetener


Icing sugar

Palm sugar

Sweet Sorghum

Cane juice

Corn syrup

Fruit juice

Invert sugar



Cane juice crystals

Corn syrup solids

Fruit juice concentrate

Malt syrup

Powdered sugar


Cane sugar

Date sugar

Glucose Maltodextrin Raw sugar Turbinado sugar


What are some alternatives to enjoying sugar sweetened beverages?

What you drink makes a difference! Here are 5 ways to make better drink choices:

  • Make water the easy choice. Carry a bottle of water with you every day and serve water with meals.
  • Make water more exciting by adding slices of lemon or lime.
  • Choose water, diet or low-calorie drinks instead of sugar-sweetened drinks.
  • When you do have a sugar-sweetened drink, order a small size.
  • Try getting your calories in the form of food instead of sugar-sweetened soft drinks.

What are some of your favorite substitutes for sugar sweetened beverages? One of our favorites is this Cranberry Sparkler. It's refreshing any time of year!


Serves 1

  • 3 ounces cranberry juice (no sugar added)
  • 7 ounces diet lemon-lime soda or sparkling water
  1. Fill glass with ice cubes.
  2. Add juice and diet soda or sparkling water.
  3. Mix well.

Be creative and try different flavors of juice for this recipe – just make sure you choose 100% juice with no sugar added.

Calories 56
Fat 0g
Protein 0g
Fiber 0g
Sodium 2mg
Carbohydrate 12g