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6 min read

How Much Sugar Is in a Can of Soda: Why You Should Make the Switch

Deciding on what to drink each day to help satisfy your thirst might be an easy choice if you identify as being a soda drinker. However, drinking a standard can of soda (or more) daily, can wreak havoc on your diet while offering little to no nutritional or health benefits.


Here is why you should consider making the switch from your standard can of soda.


A Standard Can of Soda contains About 9 Teaspoons of Added Sugar

Did you know that a 12-fluid ounce can of standard soda contains about 150 calories, with 37 grams of carbohydrate coming mostly from added sugar [1]? That is equivalent to about 9 teaspoons of sugar, per 12-fluid ounces, just to put things into perspective. What is even more alarming is that sodas offer very little nutritional value to the overall diet and fail to provide key nutrients that most Americans fall short of including dietary fiber [2]. Regular soda is not the only beverage culprit that offers little to no nutritional value. Other beverages with added sugars including some fruit drinks, sweetened teas, sports drinks and caffeinated beverages are prepared with added sugars. Collectively, all of these drinks can increase total calorie intake throughout the course of the day without you even noticing, especially if you consume more than one.


Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages, Including Soda,

May Leave you Feeling Less Satisfied and Full

 You may have heard that drinking sugar-sweetened beverages including soda can contribute to weight gain, but how does this happen? Let’s dive in, shall we? Soda, as well as other sugar-sweetened beverages, suppress the natural process that typically would occur after eating a well-balanced meal or snack. This process is referred to as “satiety” or more commonly is defined as “the feeling of fullness you experience after a meal” [3]. In an ideal scenario, if you feel full and satisfied, you are less likely to reach for snacks or beverages that can add unwanted and extra calories to your diet. But with consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, instead, your body compensates, leaving you feeling hungrier, not fuller.


A recent publication described those individuals who consumed one or more servings of sugar-sweetened beverages daily had an obesity risk that was twice as large as those who consumed sugar-sweetened beverages less than once per month [3]. Consider this research as a mindful suggestion to watch your intake levels of sugar-sweetened beverages to help avoid long-term conditions such as obesity.


Can I include Any Beverages in My Diet that Contain Sugar?

Now that you have some information about the calories and sugar content of standard soda, you might be thinking about what you can enjoy in your diet in place of these sugary drinks besides water. While overconsumption of beverages that contain added sugars can contribute to excess calories in the diet and potential weight gain, it is acceptable to consume a small amount in the diet, as long as you are consuming other nutrient-dense foods and beverages. The 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGAs), describes that less than 10% of calories per day from added sugars can be consumed starting at age 2 [2]. What does this mean in the context of your overall diet? If, for example, you were following a 2,000 calorie per day diet, this translates into a 200 calorie allowance for added sugars.

An example of a nutrient-dense beverage formulated with key ingredients such as fiber is OLIPOP. OLIPOP is a new type of soda that contains 35 calories per 12 -fluid ounce serving with just 2 grams of sugar and 9 grams of prebiotic fiber to support your digestive health. Including 1-2 servings of OLIPOP daily, can fit into a healthy and well-balanced diet, along with other nutrient-dense foods and beverages.


A Primer on Prebiotics and Digestive Health: Why you Should Include Prebiotics In your Diet Now

If you’ve never heard of the term prebiotics before, you can think of them as a group of naturally occurring ingredients that we obtain from plant sources that travel through the digestive system undigested, until they hit the large intestine or colon, where bacteria are present [4]. In this environment, the prebiotics feed the bacteria, through a process known as fermentation (kind of cool right)?! With fermentation, comes an array of health benefits, such as the stimulation of more beneficial bacteria in your gut and the production of metabolites known as short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) including acetate, propionate and butyrate, that further work to contribute to whole-body health. Other more emerging health benefits of prebiotic dietary fibers include improved immune system defense, increases in calcium absorption, decreases in allergy risk, increases in bacteria such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli and decreases in the production of pathogenic (or bad) bacteria [5].


If you didn’t know, OLIPOP contains prebiotic dietary fiber in a single serving. Fibers including chicory root inulin and Jerusalem artichoke inulin listed on the OLIPOP ingredient label contribute to the prebiotic benefits described above. Furthermore, with 9 g of dietary fiber per 12-fluid ounce serving (can), OLIPOP also helps fill the fiber gap by contributing to overall fiber consumption in the diet. Current recommendations for dietary fiber describe that 25-38 g/day should be consumed daily based on age and gender, however, Americans on average, are only consuming about half of that amount [6], [7]. While filling the fiber gap will take effort with improvements needed to the overall Western diet, making conscious choices such as choosing a beverage with lower levels of added sugars and digestive health benefits is a step in the right direction.


Sources

  1. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. FoodData Central, 2019. fdc.nal.usda.gov.
  2. U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025. 9th edition. December 2020.
  3. Malik VS, Hu FB. Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and Cardiometabolic health: An Update of the Evidence Nutrients 2019; 11(8): 1840.
  4. Slavin JL. Fiber and Prebiotics: Mechanisms and Health Benefits Nutrients 2013; 5(4): 1417-1435.
  5. Carlson JL, Erickson JM, Lloyd BB, and Slavin JL. Health Effects and Sources of Prebiotic Dietary Fiber Curr Dev Nutr 2018; 2(3): doi: 10.1093/cdn/nyz005.
  6. Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes: Energy, Carbohydrates, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein and Amino Acids. Washington, DC: National Academies Press; 2005.
  7. Quagliani D, Felt-Gunderson P. Closing America’s Fiber Gap. Am J Lifestyle Med 2017; 11(1): 80-85.
Cheat Sheet
  • A standard serving of soda contains 9 teaspoons of added sugar and offers little to no nutritional benefits
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages including standard soda, do not leave you feeling full and may contribute to excess calorie intake and weight gain
  • Beverages that contain added fiber, a shortfall nutrient in the American diet, contribute to filling the fiber gap
  • Prebiotic dietary fibers, such as those found in a serving of OLIPOP, are fermented in the large intestine and stimulate the growth of additional bacteria, contributing to overall digestive and whole-body health
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