From leftover baked goods in the office kitchen to chocolatey temptations framing the grocery store checkout line, sugar is downright tricky to avoid.
Eliminating sugar from your diet isn’t easy, but according to the CDC, reducing your intake wherever possible can have a huge impact on your health as they’ve found that consuming too many added sugars can lead to health problems such as “weight gain and obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.”
One place to start is your liquid diet. While it’s easy to identify and avoid obvious sugar bombs like cookies and cakes, you may be unaware how much sugar is in the beverages you’re consuming on a daily basis. So rather than grabbing fruit juice or a sweet coffee concoction the next time you have a craving, try one of these sugar-free or low-sugar drinks and let us know which one ends up being your favorite!
List of drinks without sugar
1. Iced or hot tea
Tea is an extremely broad category of beverage. From bright, floral blends to earthy chais, there’s a tea out there for everyone! In addition to a variety of flavor profiles, teas also have varying caffeine levels and can be made in many different ways. Tea is easily brewed hot or cold, can be prepared in advance or on the spot, and best of all contains no sugar.
2. Water with lemon or lime
A mainstay of fancy restaurants, water with a splash of lemon juice (or a lemon wedge) is also a refreshing, sugarless drink to enjoy at home. If you’re looking for something that really packs a punch, try adding lime juice, or a mixture of lemon and lime, to your water.
3. Sparkling water: flavored or unflavored
With the exception of tea, sparkling water is likely the most robust category of beverage on this list of drinks without sugar. From plain carbonated water to exotic flavors like Strawberry Lemongrass, Peach Mango, and Key Lime, there are hundreds of options to choose from. If you’re trying to quit soda, but crave the pop of your favorite cola, sparkling water is your sugar-free hero.
Coffee can be enjoyed in many different ways: drip coffee, cold brew, french press, espresso, ice coffee…the list goes on!
If you’re already an avid coffee drinker looking to cut back on sugar, here are a few ways to wean yourself off of sugary coffee:
Add cinnamon or nutmeg to your coffee instead.
Try switching brands and finding a coffee flavor you enjoy more.
Test out different kinds of milk, such as almond, soy, or hazelnut. (Some brands may contain sugar.)
Measure out the amount of sugar you need for a typical week’s worth of coffee. Try using the same amount over the course of two weeks instead of one.
5 . Fruit and herb infusions
One of the more time-consuming drinks to prepare on this list, fruit infusions are a great way to get rid of any extra fruit you might have. Like tea, fruit infusions grow stronger the longer they steep. For flavorful cucumber-lemon water, leave your slices of lemon and cucumber in a jug of cold water for a minimum of 4 hours. Alternatively, you could purchase a reusable infusion water bottle to enjoy your infusions on the go.
As you move towards a sugarless lifestyle, sip on the following low-sugar beverages to ease the transition:
6. Fresh-squeezed mint lemonade
A classic summertime pick-me-up, fresh lemonade has enough flavor to wash away your sugar-craving days. Try swapping granulated sugar for a healthy sweetener, such as cane sugar, honey, or agave nectar, to shift your tastes away from refined sugar. Add in mint or strawberry slices for a more nuanced flavor.
7. Coconut water
Typically containing around 8-10 grams of sugar, coconut water is a great alternative for folks looking to find a sugarless alternative to tropical smoothies. Unlike coconut milk, which is more creamy as the name implies, coconut water is nutty and refreshing, with a tiny bit of sweetness.
Kombucha is a health trend that shows no signs of fizzling out. While its bold flavor is not for everyone, Kombucha typically contains little to no sugar and has the added benefit of probiotics, which are known to promote gut health. Most grocery stores now carry Kombucha, with some health food stores even offering it on tap.
9. Maple water
We know what you’re thinking: you can drink maple syrup now?
Maple water is quite different than its syrupy counterpart. Made from unprocessed maple tree sap, maple water is around 98 percent water and free of additives and preservatives. At just 15 calories per 8 oz glass, maple water has a small amount of natural sugar (5-10 grams) and a subtle flavor that’ll have you saying “Oh tap!”
In 1998, soda consumption in the US reached an all-time high with over 54 million gallons consumed per capita (we also thought Beanie Babies were more valuable than Bitcoin around this time so maybe our judgment wasn’t at its best). Almost two decades of public health initiatives later, Americans have smartly moved away from sugar-filled soda in favor of healthier alternatives, hitting a 31-year-low in 2017.
Source: Business Insider
For those of us who have grown dependent on caffeinated drinks like Diet Coke or Mountain Dew to get us through the day, it’s scary to think about what we’d sip on instead. That’s why we’ve put together a list of soda substitutes bursting with flavor and health benefits that will help you cut the cola this year.
From low-calorie caffeinated sparkling water to probiotic-rich kombucha, many of these alternatives are low in sugar and promote all-day hydration, a known productivity booster. We dare you to try these 10 healthy soda substitutes and not find a new favorite drink!
1. Arnold Palmer Lite
It’s okay to have a sweet drink every now and again, especially one with less than a quarter the sugar of the soda you’re replacing. Legendary golfer Arnold Palmer’s signature beverage is, first of all, delicious, and better than that, available in a “lite” version. This refreshing combination of iced tea and lemonade has just 13 grams of sugar compared to Coke’s 60 grams.
2. Tea – iced or hot
Tea’s broad variety of flavor profiles, caffeine levels, and seasonally appropriate temperatures make it a great soda alternative for just about anyone. Some teas also provide antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. If you still need a drop or two of sweetness once you find your ideal tea format, try replacing sugar with honey. That plus a dash of lemon makes for a really refreshing and healthy alternative to sugary soda.
3. Freshly-squeezed lemonade
If you thought the slice of lemon in the tea above looked refreshing, think about how good a cold glass of fresh lemonade on a hot summer day tastes. Mix it with a dash of cane sugar or agave nectar for a hint of natural sweetness, and you won’t miss the sugar rush of a can of soda.
Lemons are also a great source of vitamin C, the benefits of which “may include protection against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, eye disease, and even skin wrinkling,” according to Kathleen M. Zelman, MPH, RD, LD.
4. Sparkling water
After decades of public health initiatives, consumers are leaving sugary soda behind for its healthier counterpart: flavored sparkling water. Naturally essenced flavors are a delicious stand-in for the sugar in soda, and for those who cite the first sip of soda’s bubbly burn as a favorite part, wait until you get the same bubbles with no artificial ingredients.
If you also enjoy the energy boost provided by certain soft drinks such as Mountain Dew or Dr Pepper, you’ll be glad to hear that some smart water coolers can also dispense caffeinated sparkling water. Can it get any better than that?
Kombucha, much like flavored sparkling water, has seen its stock soar in recent years. While its bold flavor can take some getting used to, there’s typically little to no added sugar. It also has the added benefit of probiotics and antioxidants which are known to promote gut health. Now widely available everywhere from health stores to grocery stores and even on tap at some cafes, it’s worth trying this fizzy fermentation to see if it’s the Prince Charming of your soda replacement quest.
6. Sparkling water with a splash of juice
Perfect for brunch, sparkling water with a splash of orange, cranberry, or mango juice is a great non-alcoholic, low-calorie alternative to mimosas or Bellinis. Looking for a lighter touch? Skip the juice (and the calories) and garnish or infuse your sparkling water with slices of lemon, lime, orange, or grapefruit.
7. Maple water
No, maple water is not the same sugary syrup that adorns your pancakes and French toast. In contrast, it is unprocessed maple tree sap that is around 98 percent water and free of additives and preservatives. Around 15 calories per 8 oz glass, maple water contains a small amount of sugar that contributes to a refreshingly subtle flavor. As one maple water producer explains, “You have to try it.”
8. Fruit and herb infusions
Though infusions take a little more time and work than buying a fruit drink off the shelf, they’re a great way to use up any extra fruit and herbs in your fridge before they spoil.
Simply chop whatever you have on hand–strawberry and lemon or blackberry and lime are two of our favorite combos–throw them in a pitcher or reusable water bottle, and let them steep for at least four hours for best results. If you enjoy fruit flavors but don’t want the sugar rush of juice, infusions are a great way to cut out sugar while also helping you consume more water throughout the workday.
9. Coconut water
Like kombucha, boxes of coconut water have been popping up at more and more stores in recent years. With around 8-10 grams of sugar per serving, it’s already a much better choice than soda, but as a natural source of potassium and electrolytes, it’s also a better choice for your body on those particularly sweaty days at the gym.
10. Mineral water
Balanced in taste and mouthfeel, mineral water contains zero calories and has the added nutritional benefit of minerals such as calcium, magnesium sulfate, and sodium sulfate (note: minerals may vary depending on the brand.)
While it may feel a little strange drinking this anywhere besides an exclusive restaurant with white tablecloths, mineral water is an everyday soda substitute that’s sold online and at many grocery stores. Fair warning: it’s on the pricier side so make sure you try all the beverages on this list to find the soda substitute that’s right for you.
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