my singapore drinks tier list

My Singapore Drinks Tier List

With the upcoming ban on sugary drink ads, we should also put some effort into knowing what is in our favourite drinks. This is my Singapore drink tier list which you can use as a guideline for making smart decisions for your health.

There is no centralised data source and each coffee shop got its own ratios in preparing its drinks. There was supposed to be a list of macros for different kinds of foods in an iDat app but it has now been decommissioned.

The government should release a list of Singapore food and drinks with their nutritional information. This will also assist hawkers in labelling their drinks when the new regulations hit, allowing consumers to know what they are drinking. They won’t have the resources to send all their food items to the lab.

Disclaimer: I am not a licensed dietician or nutritionist. The information presented is based on what I can find online and the tier list is of my personal opinion.

Why Should We Be Concerned With Our Drinks?

Why are drinks such a trap card? Here are some reasons why.

Ease Of Consumption

Drinks go down way easier than solid food. Chewing and keeping food in our mouths keeps us full as compared to drinking down liquids. It sends signals to our brains that we are consuming food, telling us to stop when it is enough. In comparison, liquids do not require chewing and the only limiting factor is the size of our stomach. We can drink a lot of liquid before we feel full.

Hidden Calories / Nutrition

Drinks can be filled with sugar and other nutrients, making it easy to rack up calories and sugar intake. Coupled with liquid going down so easily, it makes it worse. We also tend to ignore drinks as part of our meals because we drink to quench our thirst or cravings and not food. You might think that you have been eating very little but still gaining weight. What you drink with every meal might be the problem. Cutting away your daily sugary drinks can help you reduce a few hundred calories every day, allowing you to hit your weight loss goals more easily.

MOH states that high sugar intake is linked to an increased risk of obesity and diabetes. Additionally, there is no nutritional need in our diets for any sugar according to the World Health Organisation.

The average Singaporean consumes 60 g or 12 teaspoons of sugar every day with more than half coming from drinks. Out of these 60 grams, 64% of them come from pre-packaged drinks.

It is recommended that added sugar should not contribute to more than 10% of our daily caloric needs. This is about 9 – 11 teaspoons of sugar (45 – 55g of sugar) a day. If we look at the tier list below, some drinks have almost hit the limit with just one serving. When we drink a beverage with every meal, it can easily exceed our total sugar limit. Remember that there are still added sugars in our foods too, not only in drinks.

My Singapore Drink Tier List

This is a list of common drinks that we come into contact with every day. I gave them a tier based on their nutritional content, focusing more on calories and sugar levels.

Drink Calories / g Sugar / g Tier
Water 0 0 S
Teh 153 23 C
Teh O 90 23 C
Teh C 129 23 C
Teh O Kosong 0 0 A
Teh Tarik 229 41 E
Kopi 113 23 C
Kopi O 105 23 C
Kopi C 87 18 B
Kopi O Kosong 15 0 A
Milo 228 34 E
Milo Dinosaur 357 46 E
Ice Lemon Tea 142 35 E
Barley 58 14 B
Fruit Juice 110 28 D
Sugar Cane 120 31 D
Grass Jelly 94 23 C
Soy Milk 320 31 D
Soya Milk No Sugar 210 4 B+
Bandung 156 32 E
Carbonated Drinks – Full Sugar** 140 35 E
Carbonated Drinks – Reduced Sugar** 46 11 B
Diet Carbonated Drinks 0 0 B+
Sports Drinks 65 16 B
Ribena 130 31 E
Beer 142 5 E
Starbucks 250 37 E
Bubble Tea 335 40 E
Drink Portion Size
Teh, Kopi, Milo 250ml glass cup
Ice lemon tea, barley, fruit juice, sugar cane, soya bean, grass jelly, bandung, Starbucks, bubble tea 500ml plastic cup
Carbonated drinks, sports drinks, beer 300ml Can

** Edited for clarity – split the carbonated drinks into two categories as it created a bit of confusion. I don’t want to be misunderstood that I am endorsing drinking full-sugar carbonated drinks twice a week. Please see the paragraph on carbonated drinks below regarding the prevalence of reduced-sugar versions.

How Often Should I Consume These Drinks?

Depending on the tier, this is a guideline I came up with on how often should you consume these liquids. A tier list is an easy way to categorize things as we humans have limited brain power and do not want to make a calculated analysis every time we need to make a decision.

Tier S Drink as much as you physically can
Tier A Ok to drink every day
Tier B Ok to drink every 2-3 days
Tier C Ok to drink every week
Tier D Ok to drink every 2 weeks – monthly
Tier E Ok to drink every once in a while

Remember that this is just a guideline and the only superior liquid to drink every day is water. For me, water is S tier and everything else is tier B/C and below.

 It is the one liquid that you can never go wrong with. It is not only healthy but extremely low cost. Bring out your own water bottle so that you won’t have to buy drinks outside.

Don’t talk about water poisoning as in most cases, people are dehydrated.

Special Mentions

Here are some of the individual drinks that I think that they warrant a special mention.

Fruit Juices / Ribena

orange fruit juice

Photo by Tangerine Newt on Unsplash

We might think that these drinks provide us with vitamin C and other nutrients, resulting in us thinking that they are healthy. However, we tend to miss the blindspot of their high sugar content. Also, fruit is good for us so we might think that fruit juice is just as good for us.

For Ribena, it is still a sugary drink enriched with some vitamin C. As for fruit juices, it will be better to eat the whole fruit. One cup of orange juice might have 2 – 3 oranges that we can drink down easily even after eating a full meal. If we just eat the whole fruit, one fruit might be enough. Fruit provides us with essential micronutrients and fibre, however, when we overconsume them, their sugar is still a problem.

There is a misconception that sugar from fruit is healthy. Sugar from all sources is still sugar and should be treated as such.

Carbonated Drinks

coke carbonated drinks

Photo by Nikhil Pillai on Unsplash

Some of the major brands like Coca-Cola and Pepsi have replaced their major default offerings with reduced sugar versions. It is actually harder to find the full sugar version. They have surprisingly lower sugar (11 g) compared to their original version (39 g). It might be healthier but it is still unnecessary to consume these sugary drinks.

However, take note that not all carbonated drinks have reduced sugar options. Carbonated drinks should be treated as a once-in-a-blue-moon treat. We can also choose the no sugar option as a healthier alternative to scratch that craving.

Soy Milk

soy milk

Photo by Mae Mu on Unsplash

Soy milk can be a great source of protein, especially for vegans and vegetarians. Although soy milk is seen as healthy, we should be aware that to make it palatable, a lot of sugar might be added. To make it less sinful, ask for reduced sugar or the no sugar version. The myths about estrogen and soy have been debunked so we shouldn’t avoid soy.

Beer

beer tap

Photo by Fábio  Alves on Unsplash 

Although the sugar content is low, the caloric content is still relatively high plus there is the alcohol content. Alcohol contains 7 kcals per gram. Excessive drinking can lead to obesity and is associated with various health risks like cancer of the mouth, throat and oesophagus, liver diseases, brain damage and memory loss and sexual dysfunction, especially male impotency

A side note on wine. Although people always say that reasonable consumption of wine can provide us with antioxidants, the alcohol content is still detrimental to us. There are better sources of antioxidants without alcohol like dark chocolate, berries and various vegetables.

TL, DR

With the upcoming ban on sugary drink ads, we should also put some effort into knowing what is in our favourite drinks. This is my Singapore drink tier list which you can use as a guideline for making smart decisions for your health.

Icons made by Freepik from Flaticon

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