Can Sugary Drinks Make a High-Protein Diet Less Beneficial?

Parul Dube

May 12, 2023

Healthy eating means having balanced macros in your diet to meet your daily nutritional intake. But, of course, it would help if you ate at regular intervals, keeping in mind the right proportion of carbs, healthy fats and proteins. In addition, there is a growing emphasis on eating high protein-rich diets to get the desired body shape and combat several conditions like diabetes, obesity, high BP etc. 20% of the calories usually come from protein in a high protein diet.

Also, they are generally low in carbs and high in saturated fats. Consuming your protein combined with a high sugar drink or beverages is not good. It might also reduce protein absorption, quality and much more. So it is not good to consume protein with high sugar drinks. But do sugary drinks reduce fat metabolism?

A high protein diet is perfect for highly physically active individuals and athletes. However, research is not yet conclusive on the effect of a high-protein diet on moderate to not active individuals. Protein must form a significant part of all meals. Having protein shakes after workouts for a quick recovery is an excellent option to boost your muscle recovery and metabolism. Protein is helpful in fat loss also. It keeps you fuller due to its slow digestion process than carbs and sugars. 

What are proteins and sugary drinks, and what can be the negative effect on protein digestion or absorption. We will also discuss the right way and right time to take protein.

Protein and Sugary Drinks

Protein is a name given to a collection of chemical blocks known as amino acids. These amino acids combine to make proteins. They have different functions like repairing body tissues, muscle recovery and breaking down food. There are three categories of amino acids:

  • Essential amino acids
  • Non-essential amino acids
  • Conditional amino acids

These are the essential amino acid requirements of your body. A person should have at least 50 g of protein in a 2000-calorie diet. This 50g is the essential requirement of the body and should include these nine essential proteins. 

Sugary drinks have high GI level carbs which instantly digest in your body to raise energy levels. It is prevalent among athletes, such as runners, to consume low-sugar beverages, such as energy drinks, to get instant energy for their next sprint or acceleration race. However, many of us with sedentary lifestyles also reach out for an energy drink. 

Doctors recommend avoiding sugary drinks if you are not an athlete. It increases your blood sugar level, and after some time, your metabolic rate also decreases after taking it. Studies have found that regularly drinking sugary drinks reduces metabolic rate. In addition, it can cause obesity and overweight in normal people having sugary beverages regularly.

Sugary Drinks and Protein-Rich Meals

Having a high protein meal and sugary drinks do not go well together. High protein food can benefit your body, but sugary food can negatively affect you. It negatively affects your energy level and causes your body to store more fat. Research has found that consuming fructose-sweetened beverages for ten weeks reduced fat oxidation. However, it also makes it challenging to reduce an overweight person’s obesity and energy expenditure. It refers to your body’s BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate), the number of calories you burn per day if you don’t exercise or engage in any activity. Your respiratory system burns these calories.

Another research says that having sugary drinks with protein meals reduces fat oxidation by 15%. Alone this beverage will not cause a 15% reduction. Taking a sugar-laden drink with a 30% protein meal will reduce fat oxidation by 12.6%. Therefore, it is better not to have sugary drinks before or after your protein meal.

If you consume protein after a workout, try using the sugar-free variant, or you can mix it with skimmed milk. Regular sugary drinks are not good for your health. They add unhealthy calories and affect your health in many ways. 

Disadvantages of Having Sugary Drinks

Having sugary drinks as a part of your daily diet may invite various diseases and severe health conditions. Therefore, it would help avoid these as they can cause the following side effects.

Sugary Drinks and Weight Gain 

Sugary drinks contain about 99% of carbohydrates, and the rest 1% are flavouring substances. These drinks contain sugar as a carbohydrate and are known as carbohydrate drinks. As sugar is the fastest digesting carbohydrate, it makes your digestion process faster. As a result, it gives you quick digestion, and you do not feel full after having such a drink. However, it means you got extra calories and are still hungry. It eventually leads to weight gain. Research has found that high sugar drinks affect your metabolism and weight gain. It also puts you at risk of type-2 diabetes, not because it contains sugar. This risk is due to the fat you gain from unhealthy foods. 

Increases Liver Fat

The liver is the most crucial organ which makes food digestible. It secretes various digestive juices, which aid in neutralising and digesting your food. Having a damaged liver leads to indigestion and severe health conditions. In addition, sugary beverages or foods harm liver functioning, and they may lead to fatty liver. 

Recent studies state that having high sugar foods increases the risk of NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease) and the risk of metabolic syndrome. In addition, increased liver fat may lead to organ damage and permanent liver damage. Try to use natural sweeteners like stevia instead of having sugar in your diet.

Increases Belly Fat

Sugary drinks lead to fat gain caused due to extra calories from beverages and poor metabolism. Research suggests avoiding sugary drinks as it accumulates abdominal fat and leads to cardiovascular diseases.

Causes Insulin Resistance

High sugary drinks increase your blood sugar levels. However, you can neutralise this sugar level by releasing insulin from the pancreas. But researchers have found that regular consumption of sugary drinks leads to insulin resistance and may lead to type-2 diabetes. However, it is a myth that there is a direct link between sugar and diabetes. However, this is because you can still protect it from obesity and weight gain. But, a persistent increase in blood sugar levels leads to an increase in insulin resistance.

How to Cut Sugary Drinks?

If you regularly consume sugary drinks as part of your daily regimen, you can make some changes that are easy to implement. If you make these changes successfully, you can cut back on sugar without affecting your drink cravings. Following are some tips for reducing sugary drinks.

Drink Plenty of Skimmed Milk

Whenever you feel like having sugary drinks, replace them with skimmed milk. To improve the taste, you can add some cocoa or other flavours to make it more delicious. Skimmed milk is low-fat milk with a lot of nutritional value. You can combine milk with your protein meal as it will improve your overall protein content. In addition, it does not show any side effects like sugary drinks combined with a high protein meal.

Drink Plain Sparkling Water

If you like sparkling water, you can go for it but make sure it needs to be sugar-free. You can combine plain sparkling water with your protein meal without side effects. Sparkling water also aids in digestion and bowel movements, but you should take it in moderation as it contains carbon dioxide, which is not suitable for human health.

Drink 100% Fruit Juice Drinks

You can consume natural fruit juices such as orange juice, coconut water or lime water that do not contain added sugar. For example, orange juice is rich in vitamin C and is also rich in potassium. It tastes great, and you can use it to replace sugary drinks.

Switch to Natural Zero-Calorie Sweeteners

You can go for a sweetener to give your tongue a sweet taste and zero calories to your body. For example, Stevia is a natural sweetener which is sweeter than sugar. Just a pinch of it, and your drink becomes tasty and calorie-free. 

FDA research has approved the use of aspartame and considered it safe. According to the FDA daily limit of aspartame is 50mg per kilogram of body weight. It is easier to be under this number as we need just a pinch of aspartame to make the drink sweet.

Let us look at some homemade sugar replacement drinks which you can consume with your high protein diet.

Sugar-Free Limeade Recipe

One craves cool beverages in the summer season. It is a perfect recipe to beat summer blues.


  • Strawberries: 5
  • Lime Juice: 1 lemon
  • Stevia- 2 drops
  • Ice cubes: 1


  • Blend the strawberries well enough and make sure there are no lumps.
  • Add lime juice and mix it.
  • Add some water in it and a pinch of sweetener.
  • Blend it properly.
  • Add ice to it and serve it cold. 

Strawberries are also helpful in weight loss and maintaining healthy teeth. In addition, it protects you from heart diseases and also lowers cholesterol levels. 

The Bottom Line

Sweet drinks are not good for your health. If you like sugary drinks, there are other options. When you mix a sugary drink with your protein meal, your fat oxidation decreases. Some research also suggests avoiding these drinks as they increase the risk of obesity and type-2 diabetes. It also leads to a deficiency of insulin. Instead, try using alternative drinks specifically with your protein meal, such as a low-carb strawberry drink. It will help you with weight management, a healthy heart and gums.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Which drink is high in protein?

A. Almond milk is high in protein. It is prepared by crushing almonds and mixing them with chilled saffron milk. It is a delicious drink rich in calcium, protein and vitamins. You can have this drink as a combination with your daytime meal.

Q. Does sugar increase protein?

A. Sugar is the simplest form of carbohydrate. There are four calories in 1 gram of carbohydrate. Your body burns out carbohydrates to take energy out from it. Sugar does not have any protein in it. Protein, carbs and fats are macronutrients in the diet. Sugar itself is 100% of carbohydrates.

Q. What happens when you eat protein and sugar together?

A. Having a protein meal with sugar or sugary drinks may lead to obesity. Because mixing sugars in protein or consuming sugary drinks with protein meal reduces fat oxidation. Reducing fat oxidation leads to obesity and makes it hard to lose fat.

Q. Can you gain weight from sugary drinks?

A. Consuming too many calories may lead to weight gain. It can also make it hard to lose fat as sugars reduce fat oxidation. However, it is much possible to gain weight from sugars because sugar is fastly absorbed, and you do not feel full for longer and become hungry frequently.

Q. How can I eat a lot of protein?

A. Having a lot of protein is not easy. One can replace the meals with protein-rich foods like eggs, milk, chicken and legumes. Replacing carbohydrate-rich foods with protein-rich foods is a healthy option. You need to monitor that you do not take more than 1.5g of protein per kg daily body weight.

Q. What are the top 10 protein foods?

A. The top 10 protein foods are milk, chicken, fish, seafood, lean beef, yoghurt, eggs and cheese. If you are a vegetarian, you can go for legumes and soy chunks. Try to consume soy in moderation and not more than 25 grams of protein from soy sources. It can increase the level of estrogen in the body.

Q. Is protein fat?

A. Protein is a macronutrient. There are three macronutrients in our diet- protein, fat and carbs. Protein is not fat; it is itself a macronutrient. Also, having a protein-rich diet helps achieve a shredded body and get rid of fat.

Q. Does protein turn into fat?

A. All macronutrients contain calories. For example, carbohydrates and protein contain four calories per gram, and fat contains nine calories. However, it is not necessary to gain fat only by consuming fat products. Fat is any extra calories present in the body. So try to focus on calorie consumption and not exceed the daily limit.

Q. Is sugar the enemy of protein?

A. Sugar is not a protein enemy; it is just a macronutrient carbohydrate. It is essential to have all the macros to have a balanced diet. A balanced diet contains 50% carbs, 30% protein and 20% fat. However, you should avoid a lot of sugar as it is not suitable for maintaining a healthy weight.

Q. What time of day is best to eat sugars?

A. The best time to eat sweets is after lunch. In the afternoon, your body lacks energy and loses most of the glycogen during the day. Thus, you can have it after lunch.

Q. What can I eat instead of sweets?

A. Instead of having sweets, you can have dry fruits or fruits and veggies chips. These are healthy foods and full of nutrients. Replacing sweets with fruits and fruit snacks is an excellent option to maintain your health and add some vitamins to your daily diet.

About the Author

Parul holds a Masters of Medical Science in Public Health Nutrition from the University of Glasgow, Scotland, and has worked across the globe from the U.K to New Zealand (NZ) gaining her License with the Health Professionals Council (HPC, UK) and the NZ Nutrition Council. From being a Gold medalist in Clinical Nutrition to being awarded an internship with World Health Organisation (WHO, Cairo, Egypt) and Contracts with CDC Parul has had a wide spectrum of work experiences. She is very passionate about Nutrition and Fitness and holds strong to her guiding mantras ‘ Move more’ and ‘Eat Food that your grandmother can recognize’!

Related Articles


Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your health is our priority. Talk to one of our experts and get the best plan for you today.
Chat With Us