Can You Guess How Much Sugar Is in a Can of Soda?

cola can pouring in a glass
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Regular sodas and soft drinks usually have a lot of calories. The diet sodas don't have any calories, of course, but regular soft drinks are loaded with sugary sweeteners. And it doesn't really matter if it's sucrose (white sugar) or if it's high fructose corn syrup - it all qualifies as sugar.

So - can you guess how much sugar is in a can of soda? And why does it matter?

According to the United States Department of Agriculture's National Nutrient Database, a 12-ounce can of cola has 33 grams of sugar and about 136 calories (doesn't matter if it's Coca-Cola, Pepsi or any other brand).

That's roughly equivalent to eight teaspoons of granulated white sugar.

Eight teaspoons of sugar seems like a lot, right? It is. A typical 16-ounce bottle of soda has 44 grams sugar or about 11 teaspoons. Interestingly, the USDA notes that retail soda (the stuff you buy in the can at the store) has more sugar than the fountain soda you get from fast food restaurants (they're served with ice that takes up some space in the cup).

Here's the sugar and calorie content for a cup of soda from a typical fountain:

  • 12-ounce cup (child size): 23 grams sugar and 95 calories
  • 16-ounce cup (small): 31 grams sugar and 128 calories
  • 21-ounce cup (medium): 44 grams sugar and 180 calories
  • 32-ounce cup (large): 65 grams sugar and 267 calories

The sugar and calorie count for soda is going to be about the same for any other sweetened soft drink. The problem is sugary soda is just calories. There really isn't any other nutritional value, other than water, plus a little phosphorus and fluoride.

And all that sugar means lots of calories that aren't good if you're trying to watch your weight.

How does soda compare to other sugary treats? One 12-ounce serving of soda has as much sugar as:

  • Three servings of Frosted Flakes breakfast cereal
  • One slice of pecan pie
  • One cup of chocolate ice cream

Drinking an occasional can of soda probably won't hurt, as long as you keep your daily calorie count in line, but if you want to cut back on your soda consumption, try these drinks.

They're not calorie-free, but since they're made with fresh fruits, they've got vitamins and minerals that sodas don't have:

Sources

United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28. "Basic Report: 14148, Beverages, carbonated, cola, regular." http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/4228.

United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28. "Basic Report: 08069, Cereals ready-to-eat, KELLOGG, KELLOGG'S FROSTED FLAKES." http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/1818.

United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28. "Nutrient data for 19270, Ice creams, chocolate." http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/6274.

United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28. "Nutrient data for 18324, Pie, pecan, commercially prepared." http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/5818.

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