Red Bull: 26 teaspoons of sugar. Mother Energy Drink: 25 teaspoons of sugar. Powerade and Gatorade: 14 teaspoons of sugar per litre. Sugar is known as white death. Energy drinks are not for the faint-hearted.

While sport drinks might be an energy booster for professional sports people, savvy marketing threatens to cast a hazy fog over the rest of us with the message that these drinks are the healthiest way to hydrate while getting fit.

But for sugar content, here’s how some of the popular drinks stack up (per litre):

Gatorade Original Flavour – 14 teaspoons

Powerade Berry Ice – 14 teaspoons

Red Bull – 26 teaspoons

Mother Energy Drink – 25 teaspoons

Wicked – 31 teaspoons

V – 25 teaspoons

And guess what… even some of our seemingly fresh and bottled healthy water is being (more than) sprinkled with sugar (per litre):

Pump Water Berry Storm – 6 teaspoons

Vitamin Water Energy – 10 teaspoons

Nutrient Water Dragonfruit – 12 teaspoons

If you don’t believe me, you can try your own calculations during your next shopping trip. The maths goes like this: 4.2 grams of sugar equals one teaspoon.

There are few guidelines on how much sugar is appropriate on a daily basis, because sugar itself has zero nutritional value. It is most commonly used a sweetener, and a preservative and doctors also warn us that it also contributes to weight gain, diabetes and high blood pressure, all of which raise the risk of heart disease.

Experts recommend women should eat no more than 25 grams or 6 teaspoons of sugar a day, while men should limit intake to 37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons a day. Children should also keep sugar intake to 6 grams or less per day – while those with known health problems “may need to go even lower,” it warns.

According to Diabetes Australia, an estimated 275 people in this country develop diabetes every day.

Cutting out sugar seems like the obvious solution – but what alternatives do you find on the shelves? Sugar-free diet drinks that offer the pleasure without all the calories.

The artificial sweeteners like aspartame they’ve cooked up in labs are so much sweeter than sugar with just a fraction of the calorie content – but do you know what other effects they might have on your body? No, me neither.

But from Coke Zero to Pepsi Max to Diet Coke to Sugar Free Red Bull to Musashi High Protein Water…they all contain two sweeteners: Acesulfame K and Aspartame.

On balance I think I’d rather consume some sugar than something cooked up with the sole purpose of fooling my tastebuds. After all, not all sugar is bad.

Some people are so anti-sugar that they believe that even fruit should be watched carefully (and even eliminated) from one’s diet, but I’m not buying it. I’ll enjoy my 2 pieces a day knowing I’m digesting healthy vitamins and minerals with a little of nature’s sweetener within.

And who doesn’t enjoy a little bit of cake or a couple of Tim Tams from time to time? Yes please.

But we all know what we are eating and most of us know we should only consume these treats in moderation.

Its the sneaky sugar you find in places like popular sports drinks that I most take issue with. It might be called glucose, dextrose, maltodextrin, maltose, sucrose, or fructose corn syrup – but it’s still sugar.

As a very unfit man called Homer Simpson once said, “…first you get the sugar. Then you get the power. Then you get the women.”

Unfortunately, after that you may also get diabetes.


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