According to Statistics Canada, our daily sugar consumption is going down; with the average Canadian adult consuming 85 grams of sugar a day which is equivalent to 20 teaspoons.
To put that into context that means we eat an average of 3/4 cups of sugar every single day! To me, that still sounds like a lot! Since I’ve been into fitness I’ve noticed that sugar is added into almost all of our everyday foods. There’s sugar in ketchup, jams, protein bars, cereals, vitamin water, and even sports drinks, or your coffee from the Starbucks down the street.
We tend to notice when there is a lot of sugar in ice cream or a Twinkie, but did you know that a lot of the foods and drinks that are marketed as “healthy” or “jam packed with nutrition” have the same amount of sugar (or sometimes more) than the products you are saying no to.
We looked at the following products to see how much sugar was in each of them, and then weighed out the grams to visualize how much sugar was actually in each serving size!
- Fruit Punch Gatorade
- XXX Acai Blueberry Pomegranate Vitamin Water (591 ml)
- YoPro Chocolate Protein drink (325 ml)
- Red Bull (250 ml)
- Lenny & Larry Complete Cookie (SnickerDoodle) (113 grams)
- Clif Bar (chocolate chunk with sea salt) (68 grams)
The reason we looked at the above products as opposed to Reese Pieces and Coca Cola, is that these products are marketed as nutritional. They even have marketing contracts with professional sports athletes where we see our favourite stars consuming them. Logically we think, if Serena Williams is drinking Gatorade, then it must be working for her, and I should try it. We don’t think that they are paying these athletes millions of dollars, and that at the end of the day, they might not even be consuming them.
Fruit Punch Gatorade
This right here my friends has 42 grams of sugar! Which is about 10 teaspoons of sugar…
Jamie used to drink this when he did karate. Sometimes he would even have 2-3 a day when he was teaching and training. His dojo even had a Gatorade vending machine in it because of how it was marketed as a healthy sports drink. They eventually took it away as they realized that Gatorade was just a drink full of sugar and not very good for them. Jamie even told me that during his grading for his 1st degree black belt he consumed 3 litres of gatorade over a span of 3 hours which is equivalent to 168 grams of sugar or almost one whole cup of the white stuff!
Gatorade markets itself as a drink that you need to have during hard training sessions to replenish your lost electrolytes (aka the salt you sweat out during exertion). BUT there are MANY things you can drink that do the same thing without the 10 teaspoons of added sugar. Try coconut water, lemons, eating more greens, and finding a drinkable magnesium supplement.
Don’t believe the hype when it comes to Gatorade, as it sadly isn’t a drink that is good for you. Yes it replenishes your electrolytes, but it also pumps your body full of added sugar that you don’t need.
Vitamin water has 32 grams of sugar! This equals up to 7.6 teaspoons for a drink we think is healthy…
Raise your hand if you remember eating Flintstone vitamins as a kid? As long as I can remember, I’ve been taking vitamins; as I believe they are something that is important to our daily nutrition. So, when you see a product that has two of the most important things in their title VITAMINS + WATER, how can it be bad for you? Well I hate to break it to you, but marketing is all about selling you a product (trust me, I live with a marketer, and my husband tells me this ALL the time). So you see Vitamin Water in the aisle at the grocery store and you look at the label which says it’s jam packed full of antioxidants, and WOW it even has 100% of your Vitamin C intake, along with a whole host of other vitamins. This is literally a magical drink! Until we pull aside the curtain of marketing and break this drink down.
Firstly, this is essentially Gatorade, just marketed differently. Yes it has less sugar (32 grams compared to 42), but the serving size is smaller. So for this, you get 7.6 teaspoons of sugar… Also don’t be fooled by the nutritional value sticker when it comes to vitamins and the daily recommended dose.
You can get around 100% of your daily vitamin C by eating any of the following
– 1/2 cup of yellow peppers (152%)
– 2 cups of cooked Kale (118%)
– 2 medium Kiwis (160%)
– 1 cup cooked Broccoli (115%)
-1 lemon (92%)
– 1 orange (87%)
Vitamin C is a crucial part of anyone’s diet (noone wants scurvy), but please, get your vitamins from natural sources, and don’t fall for the ploys of marketers. This drink isn’t good for you.
One thing I did want to note is that if you are someone who has these drinks every once in a while, don’t fret; your nutrition won’t go out the window. Just ensure that you treat these like you would any other junk food, and have them in moderation.
If you are someone who is drinking Vitamin Water or Gatorade because you find plain water boring and challenging to get down; try adding in a bunch of fruit to change the flavour, or add in some of the MIO drops (so you can control the intensity of the flavour and sugar added). This way you will still be hitting your daily water intake goal, without all of the added crap these companies put in their products.
YoPro Protein Shake
Yopro chocolate protein shake has 22 grams of sugar, which is roughly 5.2 teaspoons of sugar in this tiny bottle!
If you’ve read my protein guide blog (Protein Guide For Beginners) you’ll know that hitting your daily protein goal is crucial to building muscle, and shakes play a big role in my day to day intake of protein! BUT NOT ALL PROTEIN SHAKES ARE CREATED EQUAL!
While, there are many different protein shake companies out there, we wanted to research a product that you would see in your grocery aisle, as opposed to having to order it online, or go to a specific supplement store. We wanted to get into the mindset of someone who was shopping and saw this on the shelf and thought “protein shakes are healthy! I’ll grab this instead of a soda.”
The brand we found at our local store was called YoPro which is made by Danone, a massive yogurt company. This product is marketed as having 26 grams of protein, which is a ton! That is about the same we get with one scoop of our Canadian Protein, and a bit more than our Ghost protein powder at home. But then we looked at the back, and saw that this had 22 grams of sugar in it! That is almost a 1:1 ratio of protein to sugar. THIS IS A BIG NO NO.
These protein shakes seem like an easy grab and go when you are trying to be healthy, and we did this plenty of times when travelling; but please know what you’re getting into! 22 grams equals about 5 teaspoons of sugar which is the same as TWO SNICKERS! I don’t know about you, but I’ll choose chocolate over a drink any day 😉
Our favorite energy drink has 27 grams of sugar, which equals roughly to 6.4 teaspoons!
It gives you wings right? Well not if you have a lot of these on a constant basis; as this small can has 27 grams of sugar in it, which is more than half a cup of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream! Again I rather eat my sugar than drink it.
Back in the day, Jamie and I used to go out dancing a lot and this was our drink of choice when we were out on the town. I can’t even imagine how many of these we would consume in a night, and now the thought of it makes me sick!
While these drinks are full of caffeine to give you energy, I would recommend going for the sugar free option if you need a pump before the gym, or grab yourself a great pre-workout powder. While we only looked at Redbull, please be cognizant of the other energy drinks out there as they all have a ridiculous amount of the white stuff in them!
Now let’s get into healthy snacks! Who doesn’t love making the “right” choice when it comes to grabbing something on the go? Grabbing a protein bar, or an energy bar might seem like a good idea in the beginning, but when you look at the back of the label, you’ll realize that you’re basically eating a chocolate bar that doesn’t always taste that great!
Cliff Energy Bar (Chocolate Chunk with Sea Salt)
This little tiny thing, which is marketed as healthy, has approximately 22 grams of sugar (aka 5.2 teaspoons) in each bar! That is almost double the amount of sugar in a DOUBLE DOUBLE!
This very tiny bar is marketed as something to throw in your back pack and munch on while you are taking a break on a hike or during something really physically demanding! Their logo is a guy climbing a mountain for crying out loud! So this HAS TO BE HEALTHY, RIGHT? WRONG. This bar has a total of 22 grams of sugar; which means that 1/3 of the 68 gram bar itself is the white stuff! Many people think that these energy bars are good for you, but the protein is more often than not quite low, and the sugar quite high (which is where you get your energy from!)
If you need a quick pick me up, I would recommend a Simply Protein Bar instead, as it only has 1 gram of sugar with 16 grams of protein! That’s a bar I can get behind.
Lenny & Larry’s Complete Cookie (Snickerdoodle flavour)
This big cookie has 23 grams of sugar, which is about 5.5 teaspoons!
While this cookie isn’t marketed as a performance enhancing, or protein cookie, you see them in your local supplement stores, as they are pushed as a healthy alternative to regular cookies. I agree that these are healthier than Chips Ahoy or Oreos, but again, they are something that you should only have as a treat, not an everyday thing.
Full disclosure, this cookie is my absolute favourite cookie in the world (my other fav is Lemon Poppy Seed!), and I eat them as a treat, not as a substitute for everyday Oreos.
This cookie has 16 grams of protein in it, but also has 23 grams of sugar, which is a lot! For the most part the ingredients are pretty clean, but this still isn’t a cookie that is “healthy.” It’s a cookie, and should be treated as one, so please don’t swap these out for your daily dose of cookies, but have them once in a while.
Let’s not forget about lattes, juices, and boozy beverages! Always be mindful about what you put into your body. For me, I’d rather eat my sweets than drink them. This goes to show, that even things marketed as “healthy” aren’t always the best for you. Don’t get too hung up on fruit, since it’s really good for you to still have them in your diet.
At the end of the day life is one about balance, which means that if one of the products I listed above is your favourite thing in the world (like the Snickerdoodle cookie – go try it now!) then by all means have it, just not all the time. Treats, whether they are in the form of something you eat or something you drink, should be consumed every once in a while, not all the time. So don’t be fooled by the marketing from these products, and start checking the back of nutrition labels so you can become aware of what you are putting in your body. You don’t need to cut your favourite things out of your diet completely, but we as a society tend to not pay attention to the things that we drink, or the “healthy” things we eat. Start reading those labels, and learning about what goes into the things you consume on a daily basis. They tend to sneak sugar into everything these days (even bread), so be mindful of what you eat without going overboard and enjoy the journey!