When the sun comes out, it’s G&T time. But hiding within tonic is a surprising amount of added sugar! Our dietitian ranks 12 popular supermarket brands for a *healthier* summer bevvy.
The classic G&T has a reputation as a healthier alcoholic beverage – after all, the word ‘water’ is in the name! But this happy hour staple isn’t as healthy as it seems… Alcohol aside, the type of tonic water used is a major consideration.
Is tonic water healthy?
Here’s a harsh reality check: tonic water is essentially a soft drink. Yes, it contains carbonated water and quinine (a compound that gives tonic water it’s bitter flavour), but it’s also *packed* with added sugar, with an average of nine grams per 100 millilitres. Think of the damage that could do to your poor teeth!
All of that sugar makes tonic water a hard-hitter when it comes to calories, with 85 calories in a single glass (250mL). Add to that a nip of gin and your supposedly healthy beverage provides roughly 150 calories. Obviously, a cheeky G&T every now and then isn’t going to drastically hinder your health, but downing them on the reg could easily contribute to unwanted weight gain over time. Not to mention, the ugly side effects of drinking too much alcohol, but that’s a story for another day…
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Tonic water alternatives
With good health in mind, I’d suggest skipping the gin and the tonic altogether… but that doesn’t always make for a very fun time. For a lighter take on tonic, I’d suggest soda water for that effervescent texture without all of the sugar. Another fun choice is kombucha – surprisingly, it can make for a pretty good base for a home-made cocktail.
Popular tonic waters, ranked from healthiest to least healthy
If tonic water is your preferred mixer, it’ll pay to make a healthier choice. So, without further ado, here’s my ranking of popular tonic waters, from healthiest to least healthy. Cheers!
- Coles Diet Tonic Water
Per 100mL – 0kJ, 0g protein, 0g fat, 0g sugar, 7mg sodium
- Woolworths Diet Tonic Water
Per 100mL – 5kJ, 0g protein, 0g fat, 0g sugar, 9mg sodium
- Schweppes Indian Tonic Water Zero Sugar
Per 100mL – 7kJ, 0g protein, 0g fat, 0g sugar, 31mg sodium
- Nexba Tonic Water Classic
Per 100mL – 9kJ, 0g protein, 0g fat, 0g sugar, 0mg sodium
- Fever Tree Refreshingly Light Premium Indian Tonic Water
Per 100mL – 63kJ,
- Schweppes Bright Tonic
Per 100mL – 107kJ, 0g protein, 0g fat, 6g sugar, 5mg sodium
- Fever Tree Premium Indian Tonic Water
Per 100mL – 121kJ,
- Fever Tree Mediterranean Tonic Water
Per 100mL – 151kJ,
- Cascade Tonic Water
Per 100mL – 139kJ, 0g protein, 0g fat, 7.6g sugar, 1mg sodium
- Coles Tonic Water
Per 100mL – 139kJ, 0g protein, 0g fat, 7.6g sugar, 8mg sodium
- Woolworths Tonic Water
Per 100mL – 141kJ, 0g protein, 0g fat, 8.3g sugar, 8mg sodium
- Schweppes Indian Tonic Water
Per 100mL – 155kJ, 0g protein, 0g fat, 8.6g sugar, 9mg sodium
Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based accredited practicing dietitian. You can connect with her on Instagram @honest_nutrition.