• Dr Francisco

Dr Francisco and All against sugary drinks!

Updated: Feb 5, 2018

Dr Francisco and All against sugary drinks!

It is important to remember that not only sugary or sweet food can give you calories. Sugary drinks are also an important source of calories, many times overlooked or unnoticed, and they can contribute to your weight increments or incapacity to lose weight, or worsen your blood glucose and other metabolic problems.

Those mokas, cappuccinos, colas, 100pluses, ribenas, milos, juice drinks or any equivalent should be also controlled and minimised as much as you can, in the same way you control and minimise muffins, cakes, sweets and syrups.

Water is always a very healthy alternative. If you are happy drinking water only... good for you; you are set. But if still you would like to give yourself added pleasures with sugary drinks, that is ok with significant moderation. Nevertheless,, I would like to give you some tips when choosing your drinks to minimise your sugar load.

Tip #1. Still, prefer water over other drinks, especially if you are drinking fluids to quench your thirst or with the aim of filling up your quota of fluids for the day.

Tip #2. Choose freshly-squeezed juices over juicy drinks (natural juices contain sugar too, but they are healthier with more vitamins and without preservatives).

Tip #3. If you can control the amount of sugary or fatty contents in your drinks, do it. When choosing your tea or coffee, consider sugar-less options. Choose a lower amount of sugar when they ask you to choose the percentage of sugar in your drink. And leave unopen those little sugar sachets.

Tip #4. Prefer skimmed milk over full cream milk. Also, consider black coffee. Avoid whipped cream added to your drink and extra syrups or fudge added to your drink. Similarly, avoid those two scoops of ice cream added to your coffee (or a cola drink). Drinking a cup moka is almost equivalent to eating a muffin.

Tip #5. Alcohol contains a significant amount of calories, even if drunk plain. Imagine it in cocktails and spirits, which are among the sweetest drinks. They look good and encouraging and palatable, but they are very bad for your sugar control and motivate you to drink more. Thus, you can choose to minimise your alcohol in protection of your liver, but also in protection of your weight and other metabolic problems.

Tip #6.Choose the smaller size cup. You do not need to go for the large size moka just because is few cents more expensive and seems a good deal for your pocket; but it will not be for your health. You will get much more calories added to your daily allowance, and calories that you do not need and that are very difficult to burn. Remember, it is easy to add calories to your balance, but very difficult to burn them; you would need to do a lot of exercise and that is not possible.

Tip #7. Say no to that free drink that a company representative offers you if you do not really need it or want it. Do not say yes just because it is free. Those unneeded calories will make your metabolism and your health pay for it. Similarly, if you have many coffee meetings in a day because of your business or social life, you do not need to ask for cappuccino every single time. Do not feel shy to ask for water, to take your water bottle from your bag or to say 'no thanks, i am fine, I just had a cup...plus I'm aiming to drink healthier'.

Tip #8. If you still need to have your special moka with the sweetest whipped cream and caramel and chocolate syrup added accompanied by a large piece of fudge cake, just because you want or you deserve it... that is ok and fair, but you can reduce the frequency of your treats. If you do it twice a day, now, do it now once a day; if you do it, once a day, now, do it every other day, and so on...meaning reduce their frequency.

Tip #9. If you want to disturb less your sugar control, one way is to ask for sugar-free drinks with sugar substitutes, ie the light versions instead of the standard versions. Indeed, that drink contains less or no sugar, so your sugar level will not rise as much, but those sugar substitutes can cause other metabolic problems and some experts mention that can contribute to fatty liver. Therefore, water is always a healthier option. You can consider sparkling water over the light cola if you drink it because of the fizzy effect. Or minimise your dose and frequency of those sugar-free drinks.

Tip #10. Leave sports drinks for sporty people who sweat a lot and need to replace fluid and electrolytes, and are burning also a lot of calories. If your exercise is moderate or you just watch football on TV, water is what you need, not sports drinks. This applies to energy drinks, plus in many instances you might not need energy drinks and they might not be very healthy either.


Overall, prefer water over other drinks and get your doses of vitamins by eating fruits and vegetables (or occasional natural juices). In addition, water is a cheaper version most of the times. But if you still want to drink other less healthy options, go for the smallest size and reduce their frequency in your diet.

If you would like more specific advice, Dr Francisco will be happy to advise you.

Wishing you the best possible health,

Dr Francisco Salcido-Ochoa

Nephrologist and Transplant Immunologist.

Active promoter of healthy living and a provider of approachable, flexible and empathic care in Singapore for Singaporeans, Expats and International patients.