It’s 2pm and you’re starting to drag. Your energy is rapidly draining and you still have lots of work to do. You think, “Maybe I need some caffeine or sugar to give me a boost.” So, you go to the café or vending machine to get a snack. Once you see the options, you crave something sweet, so you pick a soda. It gives you a boost, but soon you’re feeling sluggish again.
Well, the simple answer is yes, but it’s more complicated than that. Our bodies need energy to survive and thrive, but not all food and drink options are equal.
True, we need carbohydrate calories for energy, yet simple carbohydrates like the sugar in soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages provide “empty calories.” They provide energy, but don’t provide other benefits such as protein, vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to be healthy. They don’t fill us up and they can add excess calories to our diet, too many of which will lead to unwanted weight gain.
Working at The Nicor Café in Naperville, Illinois, as a Sodexo intern, I had the opportunity to develop and implement a nutrition education project focused on sugar-sweetened beverages. I taught employees how to calculate the amount of sugar in the beverages they like to drink.
Would you sit down and eat 10 teaspoons of sugar? Probably not! If you drink one 12-ounce can of Cola every day at work, you’re consuming 23.5 pounds of sugar a year. That’s just from five cans a week! Drinking sugar-sweetened beverages can be OK in moderation if part of a balanced diet, but if you want to feel energized, there are better options.
Stay hydrated! Drinking water is the best way to energize your body. When you are looking for a little more flavor, try adding some lemon, lime, cucumber or fresh berries to your water. You can also try unsweetened iced tea for a refreshing drink. If your beverage of choice is carbonated, how about flavoring some club soda with 100% fruit juice to make your own “soda.” Yes, fruit juice contains sugar, but you’ll drink fewer gram of sugar when you control the amount that goes into your glass.
Drink to your good health!