Sure, water is refreshing and the purest form of hydration, but let's be honest, it can get a little boring.
Video of the Day
So how can you get the refreshing flavor you crave without accidentally loading up on too much inflammation-causing sugar? With soda, sugary fruit juices and sweetened teas out of the question, it can be a little challenging to choose a hydrating drink that won't blow your daily limit for added sugar intake.
Isn't it sweet then that are plenty of low-sugar drinks out there to help you get your fix without going overboard.
How We Chose
We spoke with registered dietitians for their top picks under 50 calories per serving. We also evaluated these selections based on:
- Ingredients (including sweeteners and additives)
Learn more about how we cover products.
7 Low-Sugar Drinks Under 50 Calories to Try
1. Minna Tropical Green Sparkling Tea
Per 1-can serving of Green Sparkling Tea: 0 calories, 0 grams fat, 0 milligrams sodium, 0 grams carbohydrates (0 grams fiber, 0 grams sugar, 0 grams added sugar), 0 grams protein
If you grew up drinking sweetened iced tea and are doing your best to kick your sugar habit, Minna's sparkling teas are your answer. Each can also packs 45 milligrams of caffeine — about the amount in a half cup of coffee — so it's a great afternoon pick-me-up if you need a boost.
Per serving of Calamansi: 0 calories, 0 grams fat, 0 milligrams sodium, 1 gram carbohydrates (0 grams fiber, 0 grams sugar, 0 grams added sugar), 0 grams protein
Founded by Sandro Roco, a Filipino-American born in Queens, New York, Sanzo sparkling waters bring the flavors of Asian fruits to your fizzy drinks. Choose from Calamansi, a tart Philippine fruit that's similar to lime, as well as Lychee, Mango, Yuzu and Pomelo — or try a sampler pack. All of Sanzo's sparkling waters include real fruit puree for a touch of sweetness.
Per 1-can serving of Raspberry Lime: 9 calories, 0 grams fat, 2 grams carbohydrates (1 gram sugar, 0 grams added sugar), 0 grams protein
Alana Kessler, RDN and founder of Be Well, likes Spindrift because the brand includes real fruit purees in its carbonated drinks. Plus, Spindrift comes in 15 flavors, so there's something to satisfy just about every taste preference, including light and crisp options like Cucumber and sweet and fruity like Raspberry Lime.
4. Drink Simple Sparkling Maple Water
Per serving of Blackberry Lemon: 40 calories, 0 grams fat, 0 milligrams sodium, 10 grams carbohydrates (0 grams fiber, 8 grams sugar, 0 grams added sugar), 0 grams protein
"Although it contains a touch more sugar than what I generally recommend, it contains natural antioxidants and prebiotics. It is also super hydrating and satisfies a sweet tooth," says Lauren Manaker, RDN, CLEC, a registered dietitian nutritionist based in Charleston, South Carolina.
If you've never heard of maple water, it actually comes from the sap of maple trees (yup, just like the syrup). Maple water looks and feels just like plain H2O, but maple water is usually harvested during the spring because that's when maple trees usually pull water from the ground and filter it through their roots, according to Drink Simple. The brand's sparkling flavors are made with real fruit purees.
5. VitaminWater Zero
Per serving: 0 calories, 0 grams fat, 0 milligrams sodium, 3 grams carbohydrates (0 grams sugar, 0 grams added sugar), 0 grams protein
If you're looking for a sports drink packed with electrolytes and zero sugar, Kessler likes VitaminWater's Zero Sugar line. Sweetened with stevia and erythritol, you'll still get that satisfying sweet taste. VitaminWater's Zero Sugar waters provide excellent levels of C and B vitamins and potassium, as well as calcium and magnesium.
Per serving: 35 calories, 0 grams fat, 25 milligrams sodium, 16 grams carbohydrates (9 grams fiber, 2 grams sugar, 2 grams added sugars), 0 grams protein
Try Olipop's vintage cola, which is a new and improved version of the soda you grew up with. It's not only low in calories and sugar, but it provides a dose of fiber and even some caffeine, thanks to the green tea.
Olipop is sweetened with stevia and cassava root syrup and has hints of vanilla, caramel and cinnamon flavors. You'll also appreciate that it's free of artificial preservatives, sweeteners, colors and flavors.
7. Health-Ade Booch Pop
Per 1-can serving of Pomegranate Berry: 35 calories, 0 grams fat, 0 milligrams sodium, 9 grams carbohydrates (3 grams fiber, 6 grams sugar, 5 grams added sugar), 0 grams protein
The perfect combo of kombucha and cold-pressed juice, Health-Ade's Booch Pop satisfies the sweet fizz that former soda-lovers crave. While this drink is a little higher in sugar than what's usually recommended, its sugar is mostly used in fermentation.
It has gut-supporting prebiotics as well as calcium and magnesium. Pop open a can and enjoy it on its own, or use it as a delicious mixer for cocktails.
What to Look for in a Low-Sugar Drink
If you want to shop for healthier, low-sugar drink options, here are some key things to look for.
Sourced From Whole Foods
Choose drinks made from whole foods with natural sugars, like fruit and vegetables, Kessler says.
Many fruit-infused seltzers and mineral waters will extract the natural essence oils from fruit. These natural flavors are derived from real plants, spices and foods, but they don't contribute to your daily overall fiber, vitamin and mineral needs.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognizes natural flavors as GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe), so there isn't any evidence to believe they come with any health risks.
Fewer Than 5 Grams of Sugar
While there aren't FDA nutrition guidelines for what constitutes a low-sugar drink, Manaker considers any drink with under 5 grams of sugar per serving to be low-sugar.
Remember, the American Heart Association recommends sticking to fewer than 6 to 9 teaspoons (or 25 to 36 grams) of added sugar per day. The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines also advise getting less than 10 percent of your daily calories from added sugars. "A low-sugar drink would also have under 15 grams of carbs," Kessler adds.
What to Watch Out For
Look for drinks without or with minimal sweeteners such as high-fructose corn syrup, Kessler says. "These additives trigger insulin release and over time, when insulin gets released too often, it can lead to lifestyle-acquired diseases like type 2 diabetes and obesity," she says.
Kessler also recommends avoiding sodium benzoate. Sodium benzoate is a salt preservative that's added to many drinks for its antimicrobial properties.
The FDA recognizes sodium benzoate as GRAS, with the safe level being 0.1 percent in food. The concern with sodium benzoate is when it's combined with ascorbic acid, or vitamin C. Together, they form a chemical called benzene, which is a carcinogen that can cause cancer, according to the FDA.
Manaker also says some people may choose to avoid drinks with artificial colors and artificial sweeteners, like acesulfame potassium (Ace-K) and aspartame, due to health concerns, allergies or taste preference. "I like to see if there are other nutritional benefits offered by the drink. For example, a beverage may contain antioxidants or fiber," she says.
- Food and Drug Administration: "CFR - Code of Federal Regulations Title 21"
- American Heart Association: "How Much Sugar Is Too Much?"
- 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans
- Food and Drug Administration: "Questions and Answers on the Occurrence of Benzene in Soft Drinks and Other Beverages"
- Mayo Clinic: "Caffeine Content for Coffee, Tea, Soda, and More"