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drinks high in sugar

6 drinks high in sugar

23 Nov 2022 • 1 min read

If you are trying to live a healthier lifestyle, then you might want to look into cutting down on your sugar intake. You might already know that eating less sweets and chocolate can help with this but have you thought about drinks? Some drinks are surprisingly high in sugar and so reducing your consumption of these beverages could be an easy way to help you remove some sugar from your diet.

Is sugar bad for you?

Eating too much sugar can mean that you are consuming too many calories and this in turn can lead to weight gain. Free sugars are the ones that are added to food and drinks such as biscuits, chocolate and fizzy drinks. And these are the ones which you can eat too much of.1 There are some sugars which are found naturally in fruit, vegetables and milk and these do not count as free sugars.2 Eating too much sugar can also lead to tooth decay. When the bacteria in your mouth breaks down sugar, acid is produced, which then dissolves the surface of the tooth in the first stage of tooth decay.3 For both of these reasons, it is therefore a good idea to have a look at how much sugar you consume, through your food and drink, and see if you can cut down at all. Here are some drinks that are high in sugar which you should only drink in moderation:

Fizzy drinks

Unsurprisingly, fizzy drinks top our list of drinks that are high in sugar. The average can of fizzy pop contains 40 grams of carbohydrates and 150 calories.4 The highest sugar content sodas in the UK include Pepsi, Coca Cola and Old Jamaica Ginger Beer which tops the list with 15.7g of sugar per 100ml.5 It is therefore advised that you drink these fizzy drinks sparingly or else switch to the diet or sugar free versions instead.

Energy drinks

Energy or sports drinks are designed to fuel high performance athletes during prolonged periods of intense exercise and so they therefore contain lots of sugars, which can be absorbed quickly and used for energy.6 Some energy drinks contain up to 21 teaspoons of sugar.7 If you are an athlete or you are exercising or training for a long period of time, then your body should be able to convert these sugars into energy. If you are not, then you might prefer to stick to water.


Another unsurprising addition to our list of high sugar beverages is freakshakes. These ice cream milkshakes are layered with cake, cream and chocolate and sweets and they have become quite a trend in recent years. And while they might be Instagrammable, they can contain over 1,000 calories, which is more than half of the calories that your body needs during an entire day.8 To get a sweet fix without all the sugars and calories, try a salted caramel smoothie made with a non-dairy milk alternative and the natural sweetness of bananas and dates.

Hot chocolate

A cold day favourite when snuggled up after a brisk walk, one mug of hot chocolate has around 400 calories and 43g of sugar.9 Then when you add marshmallows and cream to the mix too, these numbers go through the roof! Try an unsweetened hot chocolate or a dark version instead.

Alcoholic drinks

We hate to be the bearers of bad news but alcoholic drinks are also high in sugar content. High sugar alcoholic drinks include beer and wine. Beers have around 10 – 15kg of carbohydrates per pint and a medium glass of wine with medium sweetness has around 5-10kg.10 Make sure you have a few alcohol-free days each week in order to help cut down. Alcohols with the lowest sugars include spirits like vodka, gin, tequila and rum.11

Fruit juices

Although fruit is very good for you, changing this into juice can remove some of the health benefits. By turning fruit into juice you lose the insoluble fibre, which is an essential nutrient. This fibre also helps to delay the absorption of sugar. When fruit is juiced, it also releases more sugar. Most of the sugar in fruit is fructose which can only be processed by the liver and can stop it from doing its job properly.12 Guidelines suggest that you should stick to one 150ml glass of unsweetened 100% fruit or vegetable juice each day and no matter how much juice you drink, it only counts as one of your five a day.13 Read more: 8 natural sugar substitutes Shop Drinks Last updated: 19 January 2021 Sources 1 https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/how-does-sugar-in-our-diet-affect-our-health/ 2 https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/how-does-sugar-in-our-diet-affect-our-health/ 3 https://www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/dental-health/which-foods-cause-tooth-decay/ 4 https://www.healthline.com/health/diabetes/drinks-for-diabetics#worst-drinks 5 https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-35831125 6 https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/18-surprising-foods-high-in-sugar#6.-Sports-drinks 7 https://www.rethinksugarydrink.org.au/media/energy-drinks-hide-up-to-21-teaspoons-sugar.html 8 https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/heart-matters-magazine/nutrition/sugar-salt-and-fat/sugary-drinks/soft-drinks-best-to-worst 9 https://www.health.com/nutrition/sugary-drinks-bad-soda 10 https://www.diabetes.co.uk/alcohol-and-blood-sugar.html 11 https://www.experiencemomentum.com/blog/alcohol-and-the-no-sugar-challenge 12 https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/should-i-still-drink-fruit-juice 13 https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/should-i-still-drink-fruit-juice

Author: Donia HilalNutritionist

Joined Holland & Barrett: Jan 2018

Bsc in Nutrition, Registered Associate Nutritionist and Certification in Pre and Post Natal Nutrition

Donia started her career as a freelance nutritionist, later she joined Nestle as their Market Nutritionist to help support their healthier product range, before joining the team at Holland & Barrett in January 2018.

Donia has over 6 years experience as a Nutritionist and also works with clients on a one to one basis to support their goals which include weight loss, prenatal and postnatal nutrition and children’s health.

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