The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that the daily intake of calories from added sugars not exceed 10 percent of total calories.

Easy, right? Wrong! Sugar-sweetened beverages are a significant sources of added sugars in the diet of U.S. adults and account for approximately one third of added sugar consumption. To top it off, research shows that consumption of sugar sweetened beverages may be the single largest driver of obesity. So how much sugar are we really getting from beverages?

Starbucks Chai Tea Latte (16 oz) = 42 gm or 10.5 tsp

Gatorade (20 oz) = 34 gm or 8.5 tsp

Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice (16 oz) = 53 gm or 13.5 tsp

Mountain Dew (20 oz) = 77 gm or 19.25 tsp

Vitamin Water (20 oz) = 32 gm or 8 tsp

Rock Star (16 oz) = 64 gm or 16 tsp

**1 tsp = 4 gm sugar = 1 sugar cube

So what are some better substitutions if I’m looking for a change from water?

Infused water = 0 gm or 0 tsp

La Croix = 0 gm or 0 tsp

Unsweetened Tea= 0 gm or 0 tsp

Guess it isn’t so easy to keep sugars within 10% of our daily calories after all! To put it into perspective, adding one 20 oz Mountain Dew to your diet every day for a year would lead to a 30 lb wt gain! So stick with beverages like water, seltzer water, and infused water.


Lauren Ott, RD is a registered dietitian at the University of Colorado Anschutz Health and Wellness Center at the Anschutz Medical Campus in Aurora. Check out her website or follow her Facebook page and Instagram @thedessertdietitian for nutrition tips.