To many people’s surprise, fruit juice from whole fruit contains just as much sugar and calories as a sugary soft drink (1).
Consider this healthy truth, a 12-ounce (350 ml) portion of Coca Cola packs about the same grams of sugar in the same amount of apple juice. Matter of fact, the Apple juice yields more total calories:
- Coca Cola: 140 calories and 40 grams of sugar (10 teaspoons).
- Apple juice: 165 calories and 39 grams of sugar (9.8 teaspoons).
In no way am I saying it’s best to drink Coca Cola over Apple juice. The point I’d like to make is that if you’re going to consume a sugary drink, regardless of whether it’s packaged or juiced at the Whole Foods Grocery Store, the portion size and what you consume with it is what you want to be aware of.
When you drink your calories, they’re more than likely going to be nutritionally poor compared to whole apples, oranges and other plant foods like vegetables (2). Fact is this: fruit juice is going to contain little to no dietary fiber and will yield a mindful amount of sugar.
A Starbucks Story
Recently, I went to Starbucks for a cup of coffee and I ran into someone I hadn’t seen in a while. After we quickly caught up with each other, my estranged friend shared with me how she’s on a healthy kick and one of her new lifestyle changes is to avoid sugary drinks.
After she shared her excitement about her new eating habits, I decided to keep it real with her. With tact, I helped her realize that the mocha latte she was drinking was in fact a sugary drink. She quickly became defensive, and I went on to share with her that sugary drinks do not only include soda/pop, energy drinks and sweetened tea, but also coffee drinks. The HEALTHY TRUTH is that sugary drinks also include flavored milk or milk alternatives like Almond and Coconut milk, most orange juice and even soda made with evaporated cane juice.
I also made it clear that I don’t necessarily consider “sugary drinks” as unhealthy. Instead, I believe EDUCATION about nutrition is more important than to simply avoid certain types or categorizes of food. What I mean by this is that a 12-ounce Coco Cola or orange juice is not necessarily going to result in you gaining weight or experiencing a huge spike in blood glucose (sugar). What you want to be more aware of is what you consume with that sugary drink and the portion you consume at a single time.
With the Diet Free Life Program we teach people how to eat and drink whatever they want and still lose weight. It’s the knowledge that outweighs the method of AVOID THIS and AVOID THAT.
FAT BURNING TIP: regardless of how you classify the beverage, most of them are FAST CARBS. They can make for a fat burning snack or fat burning meal with paired with other foods properly.
BOTTOM LINE: Fruit juice and sugary drinks may contain some nutrients, but in no way will the “health” benefit that comes with a beverage going to compare to whole fruits and plant foods. The dietary fiber alone is worth the chew.
- J Acad Nutr Diet. 2013 Oct;113(10):1354-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2013.04.024. Epub 2013 Jun 26.
- The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, published February 10, 2014
Robert Ferguson is the CEO of Diet Free Life, LLC, nutritionist, fitness expert, speaker and one of America’s leading voices of wellness and weight loss. Ferguson serves on the Presidential Task Force on Obesity for the National Medical Association.