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How much sugar is hiding in your favorite drinks?

Filed under:

Key Takeaways

  • Many popular cocktails and mixed drinks contain lots of sugar as well as alcohol.
  • It's important to understand how much impact the sugar in your drinks contributes to your overall liver health.
Watch the full video on Instagram

If you want to destroy your liver, then all you have to do is consistently drink about two Bud Lite Lime-A-Ritas per day. In the United States, alcohol companies are not required to label how much sugar is in their products — but often, it's a lot. 

Sugar + Alcohol is compounding stress on your liver. 

Many popular cocktails and mixed drinks contain lots of sugar as well as alcohol. As we’ve mentioned in a previous tip, fructose is gram for gram as hard on your liver as alcohol. So, it’s no surprise that when you mix alcohol and sugar, the stress on your liver is worsened. 

Is there a lot of sugar in alcohol? 

If you’re calculating your sugar intake, it’s important to incorporate your alcoholic drinks as well — frozen cocktails, liqueurs, and ciders, among other alcoholic beverages, are among the highest in sugar content. However, beer and (most) wine are very low in sugar. Knowing how to calculate these drinks could help you make smarter choices when imbibing. 

How much sugar is in liquor and mixed drinks?

A shot of fireball whiskey contains a whopping 11 grams of sugar per shot. That's three sugar cubes or about the same amount of sugar as a whole slice of apple pie. Jaegermeister has 16.4 grams of sugar per shot, and a whiskey Coke has 15 grams of sugar per drink.

How do these numbers apply to your total liver stress? We need to convert the sugar & alcohol into “standard drinks.”  Let’s take the whiskey Coke, as a simple example: 

  • Recipe: 2 oz whiskey (40% ABV), 6 oz Coke
  • Calculating Alcohol: (ABV x oz)/60. (40 x 2)/60 = 1.3 Standard Drinks
  • Calculating Sugar: 19.5 g sugar in 6 oz of Coke. 14 g sugar = 14 g ethanol = 1 standard drink. 19.5/14 = 1.39 Standard Drinks 
  • 1.3 + 1.39 = 2.69 Standard Drinks 
How to read this result: A whiskey Coke will put the same stress on your liver as about 2.69 standard drinks that don't contain sugar.

Looking at healthier drinks: Titos & soda.

If you still want a mixed drink but without the sugar, look no further than vodka soda. 

2 oz of vodka (since we’re based in Texas, we’re partial to Tito’s!) gives you the same calculation to standard drinks as whiskey: 1.3 standard drinks. 

Here’s where the big difference lies: in the mixer. Club soda has zero sugar, thus, not contributing to to extra stress on your liver. 

Tonic vs soda. 

Despite the common misconception, soda and tonic are very different when it comes to sugar content. Club soda has 0 grams of sugar, whereas 12 oz of tonic water has a whopping 32 grams of sugar — that’s almost as much a 12 oz can of Coke (39 grams)!

If you want to drink alcohol, you must cut the added sugar out of your diet. You can't have added sugar, alcohol, and a healthy liver. You have to have a balance.

Want to dive deeper?
Read our long-form article on this topic.