How Much Sugar Are You Really Drinking?

We are continually bombarded by expert opinion about hydration status and keeping cool, particularly over summer. As a nation we spend millions of dollars gulping back super sized juices, iced teas, soft drinks and vanilla chillas. Although we are drinking, we are losing track of what we are drinking… excess calories and surprising amounts of sugar!

You don’t need to be Einstein to know that a can of cola has a lot of sugar in it. Sadly there are certain drinks that are loaded with sugar but appear to be ‘healthy’ for us. Let’s take a look at some of the worst culprits.

Sports Drinks

A sports drink is not necessary unless you are training continuously for 90 mins or more. They are designed to replenish your electrolytes, including glucose. In a typical 600ml bottle of sports drink you are looking at 34g of sugar!

Fruit Juices

Juice bars are popping up all over the place. There’s certainly some beneficial vitamins in the fruit used in a juice, but a single juice can have up to 8 serves of fruit in it. 4 times the daily recommendation. A 500ml of orange juice has 40g of sugar in it. TIP: Use your fruit juice like a shot of cordial and top it up with still or sparkling water.

Iced Teas

Commercially bought iced teas are certainly tasty, but in a 500ml bottle you’ll be swallowing 41g of sugar. Why not try making a fruit based herbal tea and popping it in the fridge to chill? Add some ice cubes and a straw and it will feel a little special, too!

Fancy Coffees

Chilled coffees with crushed ice and lashings of cream on top – they look like the belong in a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory scene! Save ‘iced coffees’ as a rare indulgence. A small 300ml chocolate milk alone has 34g of sugar, so once you add in the icecream or whipped cream, the calories really do multiply.

Cafe Smoothies

A green smoothie can look really nutritious, but be careful as some juice bars load them up with fruit or even sorbets. Creamy banana and mango versions often have full fat or high sugar yoghurt added to them, as well as lashings of honey. So be mindful that if it tastes super sweet or super creamy, that it’s not just a blend of plant food.


Lisa Donaldson, APD, M.Nutr&Diet, B.Edu
Lisa is the Lead Dietitian for 12WBT. With a Masters in Nutrition & Dietietics as well as a Bachelor of Education, Lisa is keen to help all 12 Weekers understand how to achieve health for life. Lisa studied Sports Dietetics at the Australian Institute of Sport and has a keen interest in gastrointestinal health. A highly regarded communicator, Lisa is a spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia, the ‘Dietitian in Residence’ at the University of Canberra and a lecturer at the Australian Defence Force Academy. She has also been an expert on ABC Television’s Ask the Dr Series.

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