Sugar Sweetened Beverages and Weight Gain

Published May 18, 2021 By Anne Cook Carroll, MS, RDN

When it comes to weight loss and overall health, we can’t overlook what we’re drinking. 

Sugar sweetened beverages come in many forms including soda, flavored coffee, juice, sports drinks, and sweet teas. Not only do they add non-nutritive, or “empty” calories to our diet, they also have negative side effects on our health like hormone disruption, and insulin resistance.

When sugar is consumed in concentrated doses without the mediator of fiber, it is released as glucose into our bloodstream rapidly, which causes a cascade of taxing complications on our bodies. Our pancreas has to work hard to produce enough insulin to activate our cells to pick up the glucose from our bloodstream. Excessive amounts of glucose in our bloodstream, and subsequent insulin release, can lead to metabolic dysfunction including weight gain, heart disease and diabetes. Conclusion: cutting out sweetened beverages from our diet is essential to optimal weight loss and overall health.

Make sure to sip on unsweetened drinks throughout the day, with a focus on regular water, to meet your hydration needs. The amount of water you should be drinking per day is dependent on many factors including your physical activity, sweat output, climate, and health status. However, most healthy people should aim to consume a minimum of eight 8-ounce glasses of water or about 2 liters per day.


  • Soda
  • Juice
  • Sweetened tea
  • Sports drinks
  • Flavored coffees


  • Sparkling and regular water
  • If you want the flavor of juice, add just a splash to sparkling water or club soda
  • Choose mixed coffee drinks with unsweetened almond, soy or oat milk or skim milk
  • Flavor coffee with ground cinnamon and/or nutmeg instead of syrups
  • Add fresh citrus to regular water or sparkling water to add flavor

Team Tip:

“Sugar sweetened beverages can negatively impact your weight and dental health. When I’m craving a sweet beverage, I go for a flavored seltzer water like a La Croix instead. It’s both refreshing and doesn’t contain the added sugar of a regular soda!”

– Sherrie