What Drinks Contain the Most Sugar? 14 Drinks to Avoid


What drinks contain the most sugar? Drinking stuff. When it comes to survival, making sure we drink enough fluids daily is more important than eating. Not a day goes by when we don’t have a drink of some type. But does anybody actually know the sugar content of the drinks we all guzzle every day? What drinks contain the most sugar? Well, I am pretty well placed to help answer that question as I have researched and written dozens of posts here at Low Sugar Snax about the sugar content of dozens of different types of drinks. In this post, I wanted to summarize some of the highest sugar drinks out there to help you avoid these heavy sugar hitters.

Let’s dig in – what drinks contain the most sugar?

What Drinks contain the most sugar - sugar

What Drinks Contain the Most Sugar?

As a general rule the following drinks can be higher sugar drinks:

  • milkshakes;
  • smoothies;
  • lemonade;
  • blended frozen drinks;
  • juice;
  • energy drinks;
  • boba;
  • ginger beer/ale;
  • cream soda;
  • root beer;
  • soda;
  • chocolate milk;
  • strawberry milk; and
  • hot chocolate.

Before continuing, if you want to find out about the other end of the spectrum i.e., the lowest sugar drinks out there make sure to check out the following post I wrote: What Drinks Contain The Least Sugar? You Must Know These 0g Sugar Drinks.

How much sugar is in Strawberry Milk - Strawberry Milk

1. Milkshakes

First up on this list of higher sugar drinks is (drum roll please) Milkshakes!

Now this shouldn’t come as a huge surprise – I mean milkshakes are basically made up of milk, ice cream, and whipped cream. And remember dairy is pretty high in naturally occurring sugar from lactase – so milkshakes are high in both added and naturally occurring sugar.

For example, a large chocolate milkshake at Baskin Robbins contains 160g of sugar.

Fear not milkshake lovers – you can still order a lower-sugar milkshake (everything is relative I guess) if you know how. A small vanilla milkshake or a small peanut butter one will usually be your best bet – you can read more about it here – Is There A Lot of Sugar in a Milkshake? If you know you know.

Lowest Sugar Smoothies

2. Smoothies

Another drink that can really rack up a lot of sugar is smoothies. For example, at Dutch Bros, a large peach smoothie contains 200g of sugar. Even a small smoothie starts at 72g of sugar.

There are, again, ways you can still enjoy a smoothie without going wild in the sugar department. If you are making a smoothie at home, make sure to include lots of sugar-free smoothie ingredients I talk about in the following post – 25 Sugar-Free Ingredients You Can Add To Your Smoothie.

If you are ordering a smoothie out and about then I have written a bunch of posts on the lowest-sugar smoothies at various smoothie stores. I summarized everything you need to know in the following post: How To Reduce The Sugar in Smoothies.

9 Zero Sugar Lemonades You Need To Cool Down With - Lemonade

3. Lemonade

Next up – lemonade! Yup, that sweet n sour drink we all love on a hot Summers day. Now the sugar content of lemonade can really vary depending on the format. There are usually 37g-42g of sugar in a 12oz can of lemonade and there can be as much as 132g of sugar in the largest size of a lemonade from a fountain machine. Eek!

You can read more about it here in the following post I wrote – Is There A Lot of Sugar in Lemonade?

Of course, the best way to enjoy a lemonade without all the sugar is to just opt for a sugar-free one. I wrote a post on the best sugar-free lemonades here – 9 Zero Sugar Lemonades You Need To Cool Down With.

Which Frappuccinos contain the least sugar - Frappuccino drinks

4. Blended Frozen Drinks

Next up are those delicious blended frozen drinks you can order out – you know the ones that have a different name depending on the coffee chain you are in (like the Frappuccino at Starbucks, for example).

Well, these blended frozen drinks can end up being pretty high in sugar. For example, a Venti Peppermint White Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino from Starbucks contains 88g of sugar.

Fear not though, I have written a whole post on the lowest-sugar Frappuccino at Starbucks. You can find it here – Which Frappuccino Contains the Least Sugar?

Does Mango Juice Contain Sugar - Mango Drink

5. Juice

Now not all juices are high in sugar, but quite a few are! For example, grape juice tends to be one of the highest sugar juices out there, as an 8oz serving of grape juice tends to contain 35g-40g of sugar. Pomegranate juice also tends to be high in total sugar at 32g-40g of sugar, but there doesn’t tend to be added sugar in pomegranate. Another thing to watch when choosing a juice is to avoid any that are labeled as “cocktails” as they often contain added sugar.

Not all juices are super high in sugar.

Unsweetened cranberry juice is one of the lowest sugar juices, as it tends to contain 7g-11g of total sugar per 8oz serving. Unsweetened grapefruit juice is another lower-sugar juice as it tends to contain 17g-21g of sugar in an 8oz serving and unsweetened watermelon juice tends to contain 18g-19g of sugar.

You can read more about what are the highest and lowest sugar juices here in the post I wrote – Which Juice Has The Least Sugar and Which Has the Most?

Are Energy Drinks High in Sugar - Red Bull

6. Energy Drinks

Next up are energy drinks. It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that regular energy drinks are fairly high in sugar as their designated purpose is to give you, well energy. As a general rule, there are 26g-35g of sugar in an 8.4 fl oz serving of most energy drinks.

You can read more about it here: Are Energy Drinks High in Sugar and Which Are Sugar-Free?

Of course, if you love an energy drink fix but minus the sugar then there are plenty of sugar-free energy drinks available on the market nowadays.

The 15 Lowest Sugar Drinks at Kung Fu Tea (0g-6g of Sugar) - Boba Tea Drink

7. Boba

Another drink that can end up high in sugar (and one of my favorites) depending on the way it is ordered is boba drinks. If you go to a boba shop and order a large boba at 120% sugar and with toppings this can result in a very high-sugar drink. If you want to find out how to order a lower-sugar boba drink, make sure to read the following post I wrote: Is Bubble/Boba High in Sugar?

Best No Added Sugar Ginger Beers and Ales - Ginger

8. Ginger Beer/Ale

Ginger beers and ales are another type of drink that can be high in sugar if you don’t order the diet version. As a general rule, a 12oz can of ginger ale contains 25g-38g of sugar and a can of ginger beer contains 27g-48g of sugar.

If you want to find out about some sugar-free ginger beer and ale options, then make sure to check out the following posts I wrote:

9. Cream Soda

Cream soda is another sweet drink that can come in on the high end when it comes to sugar. As a general rule there are 33g-46g of sugar in a 12oz can of cream soda. You can read more about it (as well as which cream sodas are sugar-free!) here in the post I wrote on the topic – How Much Sugar is in Cream Soda and Which Are Sugar-Free?

How much sugar is in Root Beer - A&W

10. Root Beer

Root beer is another higher sugar carbonated drink coming in on average at 38g-46g of sugar in a 12oz serving of root beer. You can read more about it here: How Much Sugar is in Root Beer? Hint – More Than Coke!

Which Soda Contains The Most Sugar - Coke

11. Soda

Okay, so I have already listed lemonade, root beer, cream soda, and ginger beer/ale on this list, but of course, there are still a plethora of other sodas that are also high in sugar. As a general rule, a 12 oz soda tends to contain 37g-46g of sugar per 12oz can. Mountain Dew tends to be one of the highest-sugar sodas. You can read more about it here in the post I wrote: Which Soda Contains The Most Sugar?

Are Alternative Chocolate Milks High in Sugar - chocolate milk poured

12. Chocolate Milk

Ah, chocolate milk – that sweet drink that brings us all back to our childhood! But sadly of course chocolate milk is not too low in sugar either. This really shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. As a general rule most dairy chocolate milks contain 19g-29g of total sugar per cup serving. But alternative chocolate kinds of milk (as in almond, oat, coconut, etc.) are actually lower in sugar as they tend to contain 11g-21g of total sugar per cup serving. Why is this? Well, it is actually because of the lactase in dairy. Lactase is dairy’s naturally occurring sugar.

There is some good news for all you chocolate milk lovers. I did manage to find a dairy chocolate milk that contains 6g of total sugar per cup. You can find out which one that is here: Is There A Lot of Sugar in Chocolate Milk?

I also discovered vegan chocolate milk that only contains 4g of total sugar per cup! You can find out about that one here – Are Alternative Chocolate Milks (Almond, Soy, etc.) High in Sugar?

How much sugar is in Strawberry Milk - Strawberry Milk poured

13. Strawberry Milk

Believe it or not, strawberry milk can potentially be higher in sugar than chocolate milk! That’s right – there tends to be 20g-30g of sugar in a 240ml serving of strawberry milk. You can read about it here: How Much Sugar is in Strawberry Milk?

The 13 Best No Added Sugar Hot Chocolates - hot chocolate

14. Hot chocolate

If chocolate milk is high in sugar, it probably shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that hot chocolate also tends to be high in sugar.

As a general rule, there are 27g-42g of sugar in a small hot chocolate ordered at a coffee shop, depending on the shop. There are ways of reducing the sugar content of a hot chocolate ordered out. For example, you can order your hot chocolate with dairy-free milk, hold the whip, and see if less chocolate can be added to reduce the sugar content of your hot chocolate.

You can read more about it here in the post I wrote: How Much Sugar is in Hot Chocolate?


How much sugar is in Cream Soda & Which are Sugar-free

What Drinks Contain the Most Sugar? 14 Drinks to Avoid – The Final Bite

What drinks contain the most sugar? What have we learned from the above? Well, if you are looking to reduce your sugar intake then there are 14 types of drinks you really want to watch out for. I listed all these above. Whilst some are obvious (soda and hot chocolate, for example), others may not. Things like smoothies, lemonades, boba drinks, or blended-style coffee drinks may not be things you associate with being high in sugar. But unfortunately, often they are. The good news is that there are always lower sugar options for each type of drink and ways to reduce the sugar content. That is why for each type of drink I have provided links to the dedicated articles I have written to help you find and pick the lowest sugar options available.

And Remember…

Low Sugar Drinks at McDonald's

Ingredients and/or manufacturing processes may change. Always double-check ingredient lists and nutritional information before purchasing any food items.


WANT TO FIND MORE LOW SUGAR OPTIONS?

Do you want to learn about some other low-sugar options at your favorite coffee chains, fast food, or restaurant joints, or just while you are shopping for groceries? If you do, then check out some of my other articles below:

Low Sugar Snax Team

Since 2012, the Low Sugar Snax Team has been in the food business - creating, operating, and running "healthier" food businesses. Low Sugar Snax is all about informing you exactly how much sugar goes into some of your favorite foods and snacks (or as we like to call them “Snax”). We wanted to create this site because, like you, we love snacks and sweet things, but are conscious about the effect that sugar has on us and just how much is used in everyday food and drink products.

Learn more with these similar posts