Posted by Administrator on 9/6/2014
How Many Servings (mg) of Sugar Should You Eat Per Day?
Did you know sugary junk foods stimulate the same areas in the brain as
certain drugs?(2) This is why sugar can cause people to lose control
over their consumption. If you have a history of binge eating, failure
at setting rules about
your consumption (like cheat meals / days) and repeated failures with
the “everything in moderation” approach – then perhaps you have a sugar
Foods with added sugars, found in processed foods, soda, candy and baked
goods, provide a great number of calories with no added nutrients and
can damage your metabolism in the long run. Too much added sugar causes
weight gain, may contribute to
high blood pressure and increases your risk for metabolic syndrome – a
precursor to Type 2 diabetes. Choosing foods with added sugar in lieu of
healthier, whole, natural foods can also cause nutritional shortfalls.
Naturally-occurring sugar, on the other hand, found in fruits, some vegetables and dairy
products, come with an entire nutritional package that offers vitamins,
minerals, protein and antioxidants.
But how much is too much? Can you eat a little bit of sugar each day without harm, or should you avoid it as much as possible?
Added Sugars vs Natural Sugars – Big Difference
There is a big difference between added sugars and
sugars that occur naturally in foods like fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables contain water, fiber and important micronutrients, along with naturally occurring sugars.
However, added sugars are those that are added to foods. Added sugars are those added to foods; typically pre-packaged, processed foods. Table sugar (sucrose; typically from GMO sugar beets) and high fructose corn syrup are the two most common types of added sugars.
Sugar Consumption is Extremely High
According to data from the U.S. in 2012, each person consumed 100
pounds of sugar per year. This equals 22 teaspoons or close to 500 calories per day. This is the equivalent of 12 strips of bacon. Sugar-sweetened beverages and breakfast cereals are two of the most serious offenders(1).
A food or beverage that contains 40 grams of sugar per serving is the same as 10 teaspoons of sugar and 160 calories. To put that into perspective, one 12oz can of coke contains 140 calories
from sugar, while a regular sized snickers bar contains 120 calories just
If you are healthy, lean and active, these seem like reasonable
amounts. You’ll probably burn off these small amounts of sugar without
them causing you much harm.
But it’s important to note that there is no need for added sugars in the diet. They don’t serve any physiological purpose.
The less you eat, the healthier you will be.
What is a Safe Amount of Sugar to Eat Per Day?
The Institute of Medicine recommends that added sugars comprise no more
than 25 percent of total calories. For a 2,000-calorie diet, this means
fewer than 200 calories of sugar per day – or 12.5 teaspoons. The U.S.
Department of Agriculture Dietary Guidelines only encourages a reduction
of overall added sugar intake. The Heart Association recommends a more conservative daily
intake of added sugars consisting of 6 teaspoons daily for women and 9
teaspoons daily for men.
You can figure out roughly how
much added sugar you should consume in one sitting by dividing the
amount of sugar appropriate for your needs by the number of meals and
snacks you eat daily. For example, a woman following a 2,000-calorie diet with
three meals and two snacks should aim for about 1.2 teaspoons of sugar per serving – or
How to avoid added excess sugar
Avoid these foods, in order of importance:
Reading the Ingredients ListSpotting added sugar on food labels can requires some detective work.
Though food and beverage manufacturers list a product’s total amount of
sugar per serving on the Nutrition Facts Panel, they are not required to
list how much of that sugar is added sugar versus naturally occurring
sugar. That’s why you’ll need to scan the ingredients list of a food or
drink to find the added sugar. Even foods disguised as “health foods” can be loaded with added sugars.
- Soft drinks: Limit sugary drinks. This includes soft drinks, sports
drinks and fruit drinks, are the number 1 source of added sugar in the
American diet. A 12-ounce can of non-diet (regular) soda can contain 8
or more teaspoons of sugar and over 130 calories. That’s more sugar than
the American Heart Association recommends for an average American woman
in 1 day! Try flavoring your water with real fruit or adding all natural stevia sweeteners.
- Fruit juices: This may surprise you, but fruit juices actually contain the same amount of sugar as soft drinks! Although fruit contains naturally occurring sugar, fruit juices remove the health fiber and kill the important nutrients due to processing and pasteurization.
- Candies and sweets: Limit or eliminate candy, sweets and baked goods. Choose real fruits, aka. nature's candy, instead.
- Baked goods: Cookies, cakes, etc. These tend to be very high in sugar and refined carbohydrates. When baking, make
ingredient substitutions to your favorite recipes. Instead of sugar in recipes, you can try things like cinnamon, nutmeg, almond extract, vanilla, ginger or lemon. Use unsweetened applesauce, mashed bananas, all natural stevia sweeteners.
- Dried fruits and fruits canned in syrup: Choose fresh fruits instead.
- Low-Fat or Diet Foods: Foods that have had the fat removed from them are often very high in sugar to make up for the lack of flavor and poor consistency.
- Processed foods: Cut
out processed foods, which are often high not only in added sugar but
also in fat and sodium. Instead, shop in the outer isles of the grocery
store where single ingredient foods are located (fruits, vegetables,
lean meats, nuts/seeds).
The best way to cut back on sugar is to simply avoid processed, pre-packaged foods and satisfy your sweet tooth with fruits instead. This approach doesn’t require math, calorie counting or obsessively reading food labels all the time.
However, if you’re simply unable to stick to unprocessed foods, here are some tips on how to make the right
- There are many different names for sugar: sucrose, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), dehydrated cane juice, fructose, glucose, dextrose, syrup, corn syrup, barley malt, dextran, dextrose, diastase,
diastatic malt, ethyl maltol, fructose, glucose, invert sugar, lactose, malt syrup,
maltodextrin, maltose, mannitol, malitol, refiner’s syrup,
sorbitol, sorghum syrup, and turbinado sugar to name a few.
- If a packaged food contains sugar in the first 3 ingredients, avoid it.
- If a packaged food contains more than one type of sugar, avoid it. Yes, companies are famous for trying to trick consumers by adding several types of sugars to their ingredients list, many of them unpronounceable, in order to fool the consumer into thinking there is less sugar in their product.
The key when grocery shopping is to stick to real, single ingredient foods and avoid processed foods high in sugar and refined carbohydrates.
If you want to lose weight and optimize your health, then you should do your best to avoid foods that contain added sugars.