How many grams of sugar should an average person consume per day?
I get this question almost once a week! So I decided to do some digging to see what was acceptable and why! Also, there are hidden sugars in so many foods that even I didn’t realize! So it’s really important that when you are starting to watch your food intake that you use a tracking device such as myfitnesspal
to provide you with accurate information.
There is no definitive answer to the question, but 40 grams is the recommended amount for non-diabetic people. 40 grams of sugar refers mainly to added sugar, which is anything that is put into foods rather that which is naturally occurring such as in fruit. By this logic, for instance, ALL sugar in soda would be considered “added,” since the beverage itself is constructed rather than harvested.
To understand how much sugar per day you should take is very important. United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) advises adults who eat a 2,000-calorie diet to limit sugar intake to about 40 grams (10 teaspoons) of added sugar per day.
A teenager who follows a healthy diet can take about 18 teaspoons of added sugars, according to USDA. (Average sugar intake of teenager is about 34 teaspoons of sugar per day.)
American Heart Association (AHA) recommends how much sugar per day we should take, the recommended daily sugar intake, which is healthy and not harmful for the body, has been developed for men and women. How much sugar per day should we take:
- Recommended Daily Sugar Intake for Men: 36 grams or 9 teaspoons
- Recommended Daily Sugar Intake for Women: 20 grams or 5 teaspoons
- Recommended Daily Sugar Intake for Children: 12 grams or 3 teaspoons
Percentage of how much sugar per day The USDA sugar guidelines suggest that no more than 8 percent of our daily calories should come from sugar. It means that how much sugar per day we take should not be more than 8 percent.
High Sugar Foods Using 40 grams as the Daily Value for added sugars might reveal how much sugar per day is ideal for our body. For example, a cup of regular ice cream contains 60 percent of the proposed Daily Value for sugar, a typical cup of fruit-flavored yogurt contains 70 percent, and a 12-ounce soft drink or quarter-cup of pancake syrup contains 100 percent.
High Sugar Diets and Obesity High sugar diets, or high glycemic index diets, can cause obesity. If you eat a high glycemic food or a high glycemic load meal, will triggers a rapid rise in our blood sugar levels, our pancreas is over-stimulated and releases large amount of insulin. Result? This large quantity of insulin rapidly mops up the excess sugar in our bloodstream causing our blood sugar levels to dip quickly below normal, causing us to feel hungry once more. So even though we may have eaten a high calorie meal, we are induced to feel hungry and eat again within a short time. This process may lead to excessive calorie intake and weight gain, possibly causing obesity.
How much sugar per day should you cut down?
The recommended daily sugar intake for diabetics varies from person to person, depending on whether he/she is hypoglycemic. It’s better to consult a doctor to understand how much sugar per day you should cut down and your individual requirements for sugar before following the above mentioned information. When the recommended daily sugar intake is spoken of, it refers not to simple sugars that we take in from sodas and desserts, but sugars from complex carbohydrates and fruit. You are not being asked to eliminate sugar completely from your diet, but to compensate for the excess sugar eaten, in the form of exercise. How much exercise will depend on how much sugar per day do you take. To know how much sugar per day you should take is not a simple task, but you can definitely control it, and by getting the right amount of exercise, you can regulate how much sugar per day is being ingested and digested by your body.
Mass reduction in the sugar intake, or complete elimination, is not recommended, because your body is used to high levels of sugar, your blood sugar levels may drop, leading to several other health problems such as light-headedness, weakness, nausea, etc. However, excess can also cause fatigue and hyperglycemia. Consult your doctor if you have any health problems, and also to check how much sugar per day is suitable for you.
Indulge in the naturally sweet taste of fruits, vegetables and other whole food. Be sure to choose the fruit and vegetables with the lowest amount of sugar present in it. Instead of having sweetened yogurt, try having plain yogurt and adding a fruit. It is recommended to add fruits like raspberries, cranberries and blackberries as they are fruits with the lowest level of sugar which is definitely fine and will not affect your low sugar diet!
Besides, have a cinnamon raisin bagel with non-fat cream cheese or a toaster waffle with fresh fruits that are mentioned above instead of a cinnamon bun. Craving for milkshake? Try a homemade smoothie with real fruit and fruit juice that taste just as flavorful as a milkshake. Thus, these foods should be able to keep your sugar level low. As for beverages, choose water or unsweetened iced tea instead of soda.
Why is the amount of a daily sugar intake important?
Sufficient daily sugar intake will ensure that our body functions properly. However, if you are like most people, you are most probably having more than what you should each day. High sugar intake will therefore lead to consequences like low energy and weight gain. In addition, high daily sugar intake will also increase your risk of heart disease by damaging your blood vessels and increasing the level of your cholesterol. Moreover, it may even chip away at your memory and cause an increase in the risk of certain cancers.
What if you consume much more than you should in a day?
Too much of a daily sugar intake will also cause tiredness in an individual. Sugar, when first consumed, gives you a surge of energy. However, this energy will not last, instead it can you leave you feeling even more tired as before. In addition, a recent study has shown that excessive daily sugar intake will lead to the formation of wrinkles.
The worst foods to eat when watching your sugar intake are:
- White bread (includes any bread with white flour in it)
- Pasta, unless whole grain
- White rice
- White flour, and products made with it such as cake, cookies, crackers, pretzels, doughnuts, bagels, and muffins
- Potatoes and potato chips
- Corn and corn chips
- Sugar and products with added sugar, e.g. canned fruits in syrup
- Jams and jellies containing added sugars
- Ripe bananas (green OK)
- Salad dressings and sauces with added sugar, such as Teriyaki sauce
- Fruit drinks containing added sugar
- Sugar-sweetened soft drinks
- Sugar-cured meats (e.g. ham is often cured with salt and sugar)
Foods that are acceptable for low sugar diet.
- All other vegetables and fruits (see low carb fruit and vegetable lists.)
- Whole grains, such as brown rice and oatmeal
- Whole grain flour
- Products made with 100% whole grain flour (note that “wheat flour” is NOT whole grain – it has to say WHOLE wheat), as long as they have no added sugars
- Sweet potatoes
- Lean meats (remove skin from poultry, trim lean cuts of beef, pork, and lamb) Nothing sugar-cured. (Low saturated fat meat list)
- Fish and seafood (not breaded)
- Nuts and nut butters
- Flax Seeds
- Olive and canola oils
- Low fat milk and other dairy products such as unsweetened almond milk, soy or rice milk
How to decrease your sugar intake to a healthy level?
1. Cut down slowly. Forget going cold turkey. Therein lies failure. Instead, if you normally have two candy bars a day, cut to one a day. Then next week, one every other day. The following week, one every three days, until you’re down to just one a week. If you normally take 2 teaspoons of sugar in your coffee, use the same routine, cutting down to 1 1/2 teaspoons for a week, then 1, then 1/2. Eventually, get to the point where you’re drinking your coffee black. The more sugar you eat, the more you’ll crave. So cutting down slowly is the best way to tame a sweet tooth gone wild.
2. Grant yourself a daily sugar “quota,” and use it on foods where it matters most. For most of us, that means desserts. Don’t waste it on dressings, spreads, breakfast cereals, and soda. Not only will this reduce your sugar intake in a day, but it will help you lose your sweet tooth. Sugar is incredibly addictive: The more you eat, the more addictive it becomes and the more it takes to satisfy you. The opposite is also true: Train your taste buds to become accustomed to less and you’ll be satisfied with less.
3. Instead of downing sugary-sweet drinks like lemonade, make your own “sun tea.” Steep decaffeinated tea bags in water and set the pitcher in the sun for a couple of hours. Add lemon, lots of ice and enjoy the natural flavor of the tea.
4. Remember these code words found on ingredient lists. The only way to know if the processed food you’re buying contains sugar is to know its many aliases or other forms. Here are the common ones: brown sugar, corn syrup, dextrin, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, high-fructose corn syrup, galactose, glucose, honey, hydrogenated starch, invert sugar maltose, lactose, mannitol, maple syrup, molasses, polyols, raw sugar, sorghum, sucrose, sorbitol, turbinado sugar, and xylitol.
5. Look for hidden sources of sugar. Cough syrups, chewing gum, mints, tomato sauce, baked beans, and lunch meats often contain sugar. Even some prescription medications contain sugar. For a week, be particularly vigilant and scan every possible food label. You likely won’t forget what you’ll find.
6. Choose the right breakfast cereal. Many of them are loaded with sugar. You want one with less than 8 grams sugar per serving or, preferably, unsweetened altogether (steel-cut oatmeal anyone?). Use diced fruit to sweeten your cereal.
7. Watch out for mixed alcohol drinks. Have you ever stopped to think about the sugar quotient of a cosmopolitan? How about a margarita or mai tai? Drink mixes and many alcoholic beverages are absolutely thick with sugar. Stick with beer, wine, or if you prefer spirits, mix only with unsweetened seltzer or drink it straight. Of course, seltzer water with lime will also do just fine.
8. Shakeology can cure a wicked sweet tooth. One of my vices for sugar cravings is Shakeology. I tend to crave sweetness in the evenings so lately I have been saving my shakes for the evening when I need something sweet! It has been doing wonders for me. I mix it with ice, unsweetened almond milk, and Vanilla Shakeology! Plus it’s low glycemic index and doesn’t cause a spike in your blood sugar! Love it!! You should give it a try if you struggle with cravings!
Coach Jenn Graham
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