A donut for breakfast, two spoonfuls of sugar in your coffee, flavored yogurt for a snack, and a soda for lunch might not sound extraordinary, but it turns out that this range is about 20 grams beyond intake. in sugar recommended per day. That’s right, health authorities recommend limiting sugar intake to 50 grams per day for most adults. While 50 grams of sugar may seem like a lot, sugar has a sneaky way of sneaking into your diet — and overwhelming you throughout the day.
As harmless (and delicious) as it sounds, consuming too much sugar in your diet can lead to health problems like heart disease and diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For this reason, and others like to generally feel better throughout the day, it is important to keep your daily sugar intake in check.
I spoke to Registered Dietitian Amy Shapiro to find out exactly what smart sugar intake looks like and how to lower sugar levels throughout the day.
Not all sugars count
“As a general rule, we want to limit added sugars to less than 10% of total calories. The recommendation for men is no more than 9 teaspoons of sugar or 150 calories from added sugar per day and for women and kids, 6 teaspoons of sugar and 100 calories every day,” Shapiro says.
When talking about sugar, it is important to specify the type of sugar, because there is a. The recommendations above are for added sugars, according to Shapiro. So what should you know about the sugar found naturally in foods like fruit?
“Natural sugars come with added health benefits like water, fiber, vitamins and minerals, so these aren’t as widely limited. However, if you have a weight problem or are you’re trying to prevent diabetes, you may need to watch natural sugars, too,” Shapiro says.
Always talk to your doctor about the best way to manage and prevent diseases like diabetes, by the way. In general, Shapiro says the main culprits for excess sugar are processed foods.
Sneaky “healthy” foods where the extra sugar hides
According to Shapiro, most people get their sugar intake from foods like cereal, granola, yogurt, energy bars, pastries, juices, coffee drinks, and even diet or fat-free foods. What’s quite surprising about this is that many of these foods are labeled as “healthy” or appear to be healthier daily staples. But these foods are some to be wary of, or at least double-check the sugar content before eating them thinking they are healthier options.
“Granola is all natural and often sweetened with honey or something that seems healthier but still has added sugar. They think it’s a healthy breakfast, but often flavored yogurts, even Greek yogurts, contain over 18 grams of sugar per 5 oz. That’s a lot,” Shapiro says. “Add in the granola and you’ve hit your daily intake and it’s just breakfast time.”
Other common foods that seem healthy but may contain sugar are vegan or gluten-free baked goods, according to Shapiro. “Having a vegan or gluten-free baked goods or cookie sounds healthy, but they still contain a decent amount of sugar,” Shapiro says. Indeed, vegan simply means that no animal products are used in the product, and gluten-free is generally a nutritional profile similar to another baked product with gluten – the flour is simply made from a gluten-free sources. Either way, there’s plenty of room to add sweeteners and sugars to recipes and label them “gluten-free”, “vegan” or even “organic”, so don’t be fooled by the buzzwords of the wellness products that are often labeled as processed, packaged foods, or baked goods.
Another easy way to pack on more sugar than expected is to drink specialty coffee drinks. “Have a quick coffee in the middle of the day to boost your energy and you’ll have over 20g of sugar,” Shapiro says. Specialty lattes and coffee drinks are often packaged with flavored syrups, which may taste great in your java, but are an easy way to fill up on sugar quickly. A better option is to try an unsweetened coffee or sweeten it yourself with a packet of sugar so you can at least control the amount of your drink.
How to control your daily sugar intake
Since sugar can build up very quickly throughout the day when you eat processed or fast foods, Shapiro recommends sticking to whole foods as much as possible. “Whole foods contain natural sugars, but also fiber, vitamins, and minerals. So if you’re craving something sweet, grab a fruit,” Shapiro says. With whole foods, you’re much more likely to find sweet foods with a lower overall sugar content, and you get other good-for-you nutrients as well.
Another tip is to get into the habit of checking nutrition labels for sugar content whenever you can. “Research the amount of added sugars to make sure you’re sticking to a healthy serving; also read ingredient lists, as ingredients like honey, maple syrup and coconut sugar seem healthy, but are still considered added sugars,” says Shapiro.
More nutrition-related reading:
The information in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical or health advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have about a medical condition or health goals.