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Daily Sugar Intake

What should you know about daily sugar intake?

Before we tell you how many grams of sugar a day a person is allowed to consume per day there is the need to mention a few things.

When it comes to the recommended sugar intake per day, you could actually say that sugar exists as natural sugar and added sugar. Natural sugar, found in milk, fruits and vegetables is mostly in the form of glucose, lactose, fructose or sucrose. Fruits and vegetables can on their own provide you with a healthy amount of sugar per day that is in line with the recommended dietary guidelines. Not only that, but fruits and vegetables can also provide your body with a healthy dose of essential nutrients. When the sugar from these natural sources are extracted they are no long considered natural.

This brings us to the second form of sugar in our food – added sugars. Added sugar refers to the extracted sugar which is added into a variety of processed foods like carbonated drinks, juices, candies, cakes, and sweetened dairy products including ice cream, yogurt and milk. When governments and organizations discuss the recommended daily sugar intake they are in general referring to the amount of added sugars you can eat, which is often measured in grams.

Ho much sugar should you have in a day?

What is your daily sugar intake?

 

How many grams of sugar should you have a day?

Since every individual has different needs based on their gender, age, body size and level of activity, along with the fact that added sugar is not an essential nutrient, it is very difficult to exactly pinpoint a specific amount of sugar intake per day for everyone. What can be done, however, is to specify a healthy amount of added sugar per day for a person with a normal Body Mass Index. Let’s see what three world nutrition leading authorities recommend.

1. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) – The USDA does not have an exact amount of sugar you should consume per day. Instead they have something they call “empty calories”, which includes both sugar and solid fats. The amount to consume is based on the recommended calorie intake per day, which depends on gender and age. Between 8 to 13 percent of the recommended calorie intake is recommended as empty calories.

If you consume empty calories, there is a big chance you are consuming a mix of added sugars and solid fats. However, if you only want added sugars to make a part of your empty calorie intake, you are free to do so. The USDA does not mention anything about only having sugar making up for your total empty calorie intake. Let’s see an example of what you could consume if you only use added sugars as your empty calories.

 

USDA – Recommended Sugar Intake 

(provided you only consume sugar as empty calories)

Gender and Age
Recommended Intake from Empty Calories*Equivalent Sugar Intake in Grams
Children 2-313534
Children 4-812030
Boys 9-1316040
Girls 9-1312030
Boys 14-1826566
Girls 14-1816040
Males19-3033082
Females 19-3026064
Males 31-5026566
Females 31-5016040
Males 51+26064
Females 51+12030

*The calorie intake is based on non physically active people. Source: USDA.

 

2. World Health Organization (WHO) – The World Health Organization recommends that the daily sugar intake does not make more than 10 percent of your calorie intake per day. This means that the amount of sugar per day you can consume is around 50 grams. These recommendations were passed in 2002, but WHO is seeking to change their own guidelines by dropping its daily sugar intake recommendations from 10 percent of your calorie intake to 5 percent. This would mean that the daily sugar intake per day would come down to 25 grams and equal to 6 teaspoons.

3. American Heart Association – The American Heart Association does also have a daily sugar intake limit. Let’s look at the table below that indicates how much sugar per day you should consume. Find out how much sugar is too much for you, and how many grams of sugar in a day you should consume according to the American Heart Association.

 

American Heart Association – Recommended Sugar Intake
GroupSugar Intake in GramsSugar Intake in Teaspoons
Daily Sugar Intake for Men369
Daily Sugar Intake for Women246
Daily Sugar Intake for Children164
Daily Sugar Intake for Diabetic Men164
Daily Sugar Intake for Diabetic Women246

 Source: AHA

 Factors influencing sugar intake

To help you specifically plot out the ideal sugar intake for yourself there are a couple of things you should keep in mind. As mentioned before, every individual’s sugar intake is different as it depends on a number of factors. So for you to calculate how many grams of sugar a day you need in order to lose weight or maintain a healthy lifestyle, you must keep some things in mind.

  • Age – Young people have a faster metabolism. As you age, your metabolism loses its efficiency and calories begin to have more negative effects on your body. Due to this reason you should lower your daily sugar intake accordingly.
  • Gender – Men tend to burn off calories more easily than women.
  • Physical activity – It all boils down to how many calories you are burning. The same candy bar that makes a sedentary worker overweight could be burned off easily by a person with an active lifestyle.
  • Health conditions – Individuals with diabetes and hypothyroidism must be very careful in regulating their daily intake of sugar.
  • Genetic makeup – Every individual tends to respond differently to sugar intake. A person consuming the same amount of sugar as another with the same age and level of activity could still gain more weight than the other depending on his genetic makeup.

Daily sugar intake – A lesson in moderation

As you must have understood by now, sugar intake should always be practiced in moderation. Excessive sugar intake is associated with a myriad of diseases including obesity, cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, tooth decay and even certain cancers. In spite of these many drawbacks of ingesting too much sugar, the average sugar intake in the US was measured to 126.4 grams per day, according to a 2015 market research by Euromonitor. However in the quest of eating healthy, you should remember not to completely deprive yourself of sugar. You still need energy to function and if your blood sugar falls too low, it can cause trembling, sweating, palpitations, irritability and in severe cases a coma.

The right way to decrease your daily sugar intake

When it comes to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you should start by closely monitoring your daily sugar intake. Once you know how many grams of sugar a day you are consuming, you can work on your diet to bring it to the recommended daily sugar allowance.  If you use sugar in your tea or any other drink you consume daily, knowing the amount of calories in a teaspoon of sugar might be of interest. Remember that sugar is a high source of calories and to find out the amount of sugar per day you should incorporate in your diet, you need to understand what sugar is and how it is used in your body.

Once you resolute firmly on reducing your daily consumption of sugar, make sure you do it the right way. Start off by cutting off your intake of food with added sugars. This includes carbonated drinks, artificial juices, candies and cakes. Avoid using canned fruits that are immersed in sugary syrups. Dried fruits are also very high in sugar and should be avoided. People tend to consume a lot of low fat foods in order to lose weight, however foods that have fat removed are often very saturated with sugar. Incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet and satiate your thirst with water alone. Learn to substitute new things like lemon, cinnamon or vanilla in place of sugar. Avoid processed foods at any cost and anything that contains high fructose corn syrup.