Ginger ale is a popular carbonated soft drink flavored with ginger. The leading ginger ale brand in North America is Canada Dry, which is known for its pale gold color and spicy ginger taste. But like most soft drinks, ginger ale is high in added sugar and calories. So how many calories are actually in a 12 ounce can of Canada Dry ginger ale?
There are 150 calories in a 12 ounce can of Canada Dry ginger ale.
Here is a more detailed calorie breakdown for a 12 ounce serving of Canada Dry ginger ale:
As you can see, a 12 oz can of Canada Dry ginger ale contains 150 calories, all of which come from carbohydrates. It has 39 grams of sugar and no fat, fiber, or protein.
To understand where those calories come from, let’s look at the ingredients in Canada Dry ginger ale:
- Carbonated water
- High fructose corn syrup
- Citric acid
- Sodium benzoate (preservative)
- Natural flavors
- Caramel color
The main source of calories in Canada Dry is high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). HFCS is a sweetener made from corn starch that is commonly used in processed foods and beverages. A 12 oz can of Canada Dry contains 39 grams of HFCS, which provides 150 calories.
HFCS is nearly equivalent to sucrose (table sugar) in sweetness and calories. But since it is liquid, food manufacturers can use it to add sweetness without altering texture or other properties. All those calories from the HFCS explain why ginger ale is not a low calorie beverage.
Speaking of sugar, let’s take a closer look at how much is in a 12 ounce Canada Dry:
- Total sugar: 39 grams
- Added sugar: 39 grams
The World Health Organization recommends limiting added sugar intake to 25 grams per day. So a 12 ounce Canada Dry alone exceeds this limit.
For comparison, here are the sugar contents of other popular beverages in 12 ounce servings:
|Total Sugar (g)
|Added Sugar (g)
|Canada Dry Ginger Ale
As you can see, popular sodas contain very similar amounts of sugar, around 38-46 grams from added sugar per 12 ounce serving. So Canada Dry ginger ale, while tasty, is no exception when it comes to sugar content.
Daily Calorie Recommendations
To put the 150 calories in Canada Dry ginger ale into context, here are the recommended daily calorie intakes for adults:
- Women: 2000 calories per day
- Men: 2500 calories per day
These estimates are based on moderate activity levels. Active individuals may require 500-1000 additional calories per day. Given these recommendations, a 12 oz Canada Dry would provide:
- Women: 7.5% of calories
- Men: 6% of calories
The beverage alone is relatively low in calories compared to daily needs. However, most people consume Canada Dry alongside or in addition to meals and snacks. The calories can add up quickly, especially with larger serving sizes.
Calorie Recommendations for Children
For children, the calorie recommendations are lower based on age and activity level:
- 1-3 years: 1000-1400 calories
- 4-8 years: 1200-1600 calories
- 9-13 years: 1600-2000 calories
Given these estimates, a 12 oz Canada Dry would provide:
- Ages 1-3 years: 10-15% of calories
- Ages 4-8 years: 9-13% of calories
- Ages 9-13 years: 7.5-9% of calories
For young children especially, the ginger ale would provide a fairly large percentage of their total daily calorie needs. Experts advise limiting sugary beverages for children and encouraging healthy hydration habits with water and milk instead.
Canada Dry Versus Diet Canada Dry
Canada Dry also offers a diet or zero calorie version of ginger ale, which is sweetened with aspartame instead of high fructose corn syrup. Here is a calorie comparison of 12 ounce servings:
|Canada Dry Ginger Ale
|Diet Canada Dry Ginger Ale
As you can see, the diet version contains no calories or sugar compared to 150 calories and 39 grams of sugar in regular Canada Dry ginger ale.
However, there is some controversy around diet sodas. While they provide the flavor of regular soda without the calories, some research indicates they may have unintended effects:
- Associated with obesity and metabolic syndrome
- May increase sweet cravings
- Artificial sweeteners may disrupt gut bacteria
- May negatively impact blood sugar control
More research is needed, but experts often recommend limiting consumption of both regular and diet sodas. Unsweetened sparkling waters provide a calorie-free alternative to enjoy bubbly beverages without health drawbacks.
Serving Sizes of Canada Dry
So far we’ve looked at calories in a standard 12 ounce can of Canada Dry ginger ale. However, other serving sizes are available with different calorie contents:
|12 ounces (1 can)
|1 bottle (20 oz)
|12 ounce Fountain Service
As the serving size increases, so do the calories. While a 12 ounce can has 150 calories, a 20 ounce bottle contains 250 calories. And a 2 liter bottle has a whopping 840 calories from sugar alone.
When drinking ginger ale, pay attention to the serving size. Sticking to a 12 ounce portion will help keep calories moderate compared to larger amounts.
Typical Fountain Service Sizes
At restaurants, ginger ale from fountain dispensers is usually served in the following sizes:
- Small = 12 ounces
- Medium = 16 ounces
- Large = 20-32 ounces
A “small” fountain soda of 12 oz is similar in calories to a can at 180 calories. But the larger sizes can pack significantly more:
- Medium (16 oz): 240 calories
- Large (32 oz): 480 calories
When ordering ginger ale at a restaurant, opt for a 12 ounce small to limit calorie intake. Or consider making it a one-time treat in a larger size and choosing lower calorie beverage options for the rest of the day.
While 150 calories for a soda seems reasonable as an occasional treat, regular consumption of ginger ale may have health drawbacks. Here are some considerations with frequent intake:
Blood Sugar Effects
The 39 grams of added sugar in a 12 ounce Canada Dry is sure to spike your blood sugar levels. Consuming sugary beverages like ginger ale on a regular basis is linked to:
- Higher risk of type 2 diabetes
- Poorer blood sugar control in diabetics
- Higher HbA1c levels
- Insulin resistance
Added sugars from beverages may be especially detrimental due to their liquid form being absorbed quickly into the bloodstream. Experts recommend limiting intake of sugar-sweetened beverages like ginger ale.
Frequently drinking caloric beverages like ginger ale can easily lead to weight gain over time. Sugar-sweetened beverages are linked to obesity, especially in children.
Liquid calories don’t satisfy hunger as well as solid food. It’s easy to down a 150 calorie can of ginger ale without thinking about it. But those calories still count towards your daily intake and can cause weight gain if consumed routinely.
The sugar content in ginger ale may also negatively impact dental health. Bacteria in the mouth feed on sugary beverages, producing acids that damage tooth enamel. This can lead to cavities, tooth decay, and other oral health issues.
Sugary sodas like ginger ale are also acidic on their own, which can erode and weaken enamel over time. Diet versions without sugar are less harmful for teeth, but experts still recommend limiting consumption of acidic sodas.
Unlike beverages like milk or juice, ginger ale has no nutritional value. It provides empty calories from added sugar only, with no protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, or other nutrients.
Occasional, moderate intake can be fine for most healthy individuals. But relying on ginger ale to quench thirst means missing out on opportunities for more nutritious beverage choices that fuel your body in healthier ways.
Healthier Alternatives to Ginger Ale
If you enjoy the flavor of ginger ale, there are ways to get that spicy kick without all the added sugar and calories:
- Make your own ginger ale: DIY versions made with ginger, lemon, honey, and carbonated water let you control the sweetness and ingredients.
- Try ginger kombucha: This fermented tea offers probiotics, less sugar than soda, and the bite of real ginger.
- Drink ginger tea: Steeping grated ginger in hot water makes a flavorful, soothing zero-calorie beverage.
- Use diet ginger ale: While not completely innocuous, the diet version eliminates calories and sugar.
- Flavor sparkling water: Add fresh ginger and citrus to plain seltzer for a refreshing homemade soda alternative.
With some creativity, you can reap the benefits of real ginger and its unique flavor while avoiding excess sugar and calories. Moderating regular ginger ale intake and focusing on healthier options is the best approach.
The Bottom Line
A 12 ounce can of Canada Dry ginger ale contains 150 calories, all of which come from 39 grams of added sugar. While an occasional can won’t do much harm as part of a balanced diet, regularly drinking full-sugar ginger ale can lead to weight gain, blood sugar spikes, and other negative effects.
Moderating intake, opting for smaller serving sizes, or switching to lower calorie alternatives can help you enjoy ginger ale more responsibly. Ultimately, water, unsweetened tea, coffee, and other zero-calorie beverages make the healthiest daily hydration options.