Did you know that just one drink can add up to the same sugar amount and calorie count as a candy bar? Not only is that crazy in of itself, but these are liquid calories that are most likely in addition to everything you have already consumed that day. For someone trying to maintain or lose weight this could severly hinder their goals. Especially since most of us have more than 1 drink when we go out.
Seemingly healthy drinks that are not so healthy..
Gin + Tonic- tonic water is made with high fructose corn syrup which is one of the worst types of sugar you can consume. It is stored immediately as fat, since your body doesn't use this type of sugar for energy. 1 Gin + tonic has about 4 teaspoons of sugar in it. That's the equivalent to 1 packet of sugar. This may not seem like a lot until you start adding up how many drinks you had.
Vodka Cranberry- cranberry juice is not what it used to be. Unless your bar is buying the cold pressed, not from concentrate, unsweetend cranberry juice (lets be real, they're not) then the cranberry juice in your drink is from concentrate and the equivalent of red dyed sugar water. The sugar is high fructose corn syrup and this one drink will you set you back about 7.5 teaspoons of sugar or just under 2 packets of sugar. Also, I get the feeling that most people drink these because they think they're the healthier option, does anyone even like the taste of them? Cause I sure don't. (this also applies to grapefruit & pineapple juice drinks as well- unless of course they're using fresh squeezed juice- it has corn syrup in it).
Whiskey + Coke- There is no misconception that this is not a healthy drink however I often hear people say "I only drink soda when I drink alcohol". This is a dangerous habit and about as good for you as when "you only smoke cigarrettes when you're drinking." Have you seen what happens to your body one hour after drinking a can of coke yet?
What to drink instead
Stick to soda water or water and "sweeten" with a few limes or lemons. Don't be afraid to ask for extra lemons or limes! My go to is a vodka, gin or tequila soda water with extra lime or lemon. They help to cut the alcohol taste down a bit.
Can't get over your love for a whiskey coke or whiskey ginger? Thankfully there's a caramel color free/GMO free soda company out there sweetening their sodas with stevia. You can read more about Zevia here. I am not a soda drinker but have on occasion bought their cola or ginger ale sodas to use as mixers. Did I mention they make a tonic water too?
Miss your vodka cranberry/pineapple/grapefruit? Opt for a cold pressed juice to mix with your vodka instead! Suja sells a cold pressed cranberry juice that has a whopping 1 ingredient list- just organic cranberries, that's it! Personally I am a huge fan of making cocktails with Suja Lemon Love. The balanced blonde has a fantastic recipe for a Lemon Love cocktail here. I just love her, she's the cutest!
Why you should be concerned with the amount of sugar in your drinks
Medical doctors, such as Dr Mark Hyman, are advising that one of our biggest defenses in avoiding and treating cancer is to limit our sugar intake. A study came out in December of 2013 revealing how sugar causes cancer, you can the study here in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. Excessive sugar consumption can also lead to rapid weight gain and otherwise preventable diseases such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
A little more about sugar
Sugar is 50% glucose and 50% fructose but adds no nutritional value.
Food companies are getting sneaky and have started trying to hide how much sugar they use in their food by using many different forms of sugar and calling them different names on food labels. One of the easiest ways to spot sugar is if it ends with the suffix -ose. Some examples: Sucrose, Maltose, Dextrose, Fructose, Glucose, Galactose, Lactose, High fructose corn syrup, Glucose solids.
There are many different forms of sugar, here is a pretty good list of what you may see on a label: Cane juice, Dehydrated cane juice, Cane juice solids, Cane juice crystals, Dextrin, Maltodextrin, Dextran, Barley malt, Beet sugar, Corn syrup, Corn syrup solids, Caramel, Buttered syrup, Carob syrup, Brown sugar, Date sugar, Malt syrup, Diatase, Diatastic malt, Fruit juice, Fruit juice concentrate, Dehydrated fruit juice, Fruit juice crystals, Golden syrup, Turbinado, Sorghum syrup, Refiner's syrup, Ethyl maltol, maple syrup, honey, molasses, brown sugar, agave, high fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, sucrose, maltose, maltodextrin, Ethyl Maltol and lactose.
Carbohydrates, (such as flour, pasta, bread, sugar, vegetables, beans, grains and starchy foods such as potatoes) get converted into glucose once in the body, providing us with energy.
Our bodies convert glucose into energy- which is fantastic if you are headed to your workout or going to run a marathon- but we have started eating a lot more sugar while also becoming much more sedentary as a society and we fail to burn a lot of this excess energy off.
Excess glucose in our blood is harmful so our pancreas secretes a hormone called Insulin. Insulin transports the excess glucose we don't use for energy to fat stores. This results in not only a larger waistline, but high levels of insulin production have serious implications for our overall health.
Fructose, which is highly concentrated in Corn Syrup and Agave, is the most damaging form of sugar because of the way your body processes it. Fructose is sent straight to the liver, instead of being used for energy, and an overload of excess fructose can lead to nonalcoholic fatty liver, diabetes and weight gain because the excess fructose is stored almost immediately as fat since it is not used by the body for energy. You can read more about it here with Dr Andrew Weil.