It's easy to forget that we take in energy (kilojoules) through drinks as well as food

Sugary drinks can pack in as many kilojoules as food, but they don’t fill you up or provide the nutrients that your body needs. A 600mL cola contains around 16 teaspoons of sugar and over 1000kJ, which is a similar number of kilojoules to these meals and snacks:

  • Muesli, fruit and yoghurt
  • Tuna and salad sandwich
  • A banana and a handful of nuts
  • 5 pieces of sushi

Drinking lots of sugary drinks can rot our teeth and contribute to weight gain, which increases the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, fatty liver disease and 13 types of cancer.

How much sugar is in my drink?

Cola

Cola

600mL

Sports drink

Sports drink

600mL

Flavoured water

Flavoured water

500mL

Iced tea

Iced tea

500mL

Chocolate milk

Choc milk

600mL

Iced coffee

Iced coffee

600mL

Energy drink

Energy drink

250mL

Apple drink

Apple drink

350mL


What about...

...Diet drinks?

Although diet soft drinks are low in sugar and kilojoules, they’ve been linked to type 2 diabetes and obesity. We think this is because drinking something sweet can prime our body to crave sweet things more often. This means we might be more likely to reach for that cake or chocolate later on. Diet drinks are also highly acidic which makes them bad for our teeth.

Cola can
Orange juice

...Fruit juice?

Whole fruit is a great snack choice. Yes, there’s sugar in fruit, but it’s bundled up with fibre, vitamins and antioxidants. So what happens when you juice a fruit? You squeeze all the sugar into a glass and throw away the fibre - that’s the best bit! 100% fruit juice can be part of a healthy diet if you have small quantities of it (no more than half a cup occasionally).

...Smoothies?

Smoothies use the whole fruit or vegetable (fibre, pulp and all) so they are usually a better choice than juice and can be a good way to include fruit and veg in your diet if you’re struggling to fit it in. Smoothies made with whole fruit and veg and plain milk (or milk alternatives) and no added sweetener (like sugar, honey, maple syrup, rice bran syrup etc) are your best bet. Keep an eye on the size though, as liquid kilojoules don’t fill us up as much as food. Take-away smoothies can come in huge portion sizes and contain additional ingredients, like ice cream, sorbet and sugar syrup.

Smoothie

Best drink choices

Plain tap water is the best drink choice. It’s cheap, quenches your thirst and has no kilojoules.

Tip: Carry a refillable water bottle with you when you’re out and about - save money and reduce waste!

Other healthy drink options are sparkling water (add lemon slices, cut up strawberries, mint or cucumber slices for extra flavour), plain reduced-fat milk or tea or coffee without added sugar.

Low-sugar drinks are also an option if you’re not quite ready to make the switch to water. Flavoured water with minimal or no added sugar has less sugar than other sugary drinks.

Non-sugary drinks

Read about LiveLighter's latest sugary drinks campaign.