How Much Added Sugar Can I Eat Per Day?

With the abundant array of fad diets out there, you’ve most likely heard that sugar is the root of all evil. Atkins and South Beach even go as far to tell you not to consume fruits in the first stages of initiation. But wait…isn’t fruit supposed to be good for you? Was I the only one who was taught about the essential food groups as a kid? Aren’t fruits supposed to have a palate of nutrients that make us stronger, smarter, and happier? So why would we want to eliminate them from our diet?

Well, the short answer is, we don’t want to cut fruits out of our diet. As a matter of fact, any diet that requires you to nix an entire food group is unrealistic and unsustainable…but that’s a whole other blog.

The science behind the claims

The idea these diets are based on, is that sugar causes your insulin to spike, which can cause food cravings. While there is some truth to that, the circumstances are manufactured in a controlled test situation where the subject hasn’t had anything to eat (i.e. they are testing your fasting blood glucose) and fruit is the only food you’re taking in. In real life, things work a little differently.

The problem

That being said, sugar really is a problem in America’s diet today. However, we are getting these “problem sugars” from candy, soda and juice – not cherries, bananas, and pears. So how much is too much? Should we just cut added sugar out altogether? Sure – if you don’t like fun. I, for one, could not imagine a world without ice cream!

The recommendation

In the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends that no more than about 5 to 15 percent of your total daily calories come from added sugar and solid fats.

The American Heart Association has even more specific guidelines for added sugar — no more than 100 calories a day from added sugar for most women and no more than 150 calories a day for most men. That’s about 6 teaspoons of added sugar for women and 9 for men. Most Americans get more than 22 teaspoons — or 355 calories — of added sugar a day, which far exceeds these recommendations*. Clearly we can see where the trouble lays.

The solution

So…where does that leave us? You might be thinking, “100 calories a day isn’t very much!” Well friends, life is full of choices, and in these situations, you need to decide if moderation will play a part in your diet. You can also decide that yes, “Eating that entire pint of ice cream IS worth that extra three hours of cardio.” It’s all about balance.

You also have to remember that our bodies don’t think in 24 hour time periods. If you’re diligent about your diet all week long, eating a piece of pie on the weekend is not going to be your demise. Try to focus on nutrition, not just calories. We know that fruit is better for us than a bag of Skittles. Our bodies love us! We need to love our bodies back by giving them what they need to function well, and minimize the things that make them mucked up.

Other resources to check out:

*Source: Mayo Clinic

Photo credit: .robbie | ShironekoEuro

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Debbie spends her time at the Anytime Fitness corporate office writing and designing web content for the brand’s fabulous franchisees and staff. She has a B.S. in Dietetics, has been NASM certified in personal training, and specializes in weight loss. Her outlook on health and wellness is driven by her own 120-pound weight loss: she is a realist who doesn’t believe in diets, believes strongly in chocolate, and maintaining a healthy, sustainable balance in life. She takes a passionate interest in mental health, positive body image, and self-love. She’s an avid creator of music and mother of cats. She also can’t keep plants alive.