Could You Halve Your Added Sugar Intake?

Cane Sugar Packets

The UK’s Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) recently released a report about carbohydrates. You can download it here. The main recommendation – halving the recommended daily intake of added sugars from 10% of their daily intake down to just 5%. In a 2000 calorie diet, this works out to 100 calories a day from added sugar, the equivalent of 6 teaspoons of added sugar. Currently, the Brits are consuming  much more than the 10% recommendation.

According to the US Center for Disease Control & Prevention, American men consume an average of 335 calories a day from added sugar, the equivalent of 20 teaspoons! Women consume 239 calories (15 tsp).

The American Heart Association recommends:

limiting the amount of added sugars you consume to no more than half of your daily discretionary calories allowance. For most American women, that’s no more than 100 calories per day, or about 6 teaspoons of sugar. For men, it’s 150 calories per day, or about 9 teaspoons.

This is not an easy task, because added sugars are so prevalent in many foods. A flavored yogurt has 3 teaspoons of added sugar. Add 3 cups of coffee sweetened with just 1 teaspoon of sugar and you’re done for the day. What about dessert after dinner? the sugar in your snack bar? Soft drinks?

Do you think you and your family could work with a 5% added-sugar budget? How much added sugar do you think you consume per day?

  • Leah U.

    Averaging 0 g/day. Not that hard people! But I guess 30+ g sugar from lactose in plain yogurt, fruit, and vegetables.

  • Stardust

    I don’t count the sugar in fruits and veggies, as long as they haven’t been injected with added sugars…..

    • SlowCarbSnacktime

      Err, you should. Sugar in fruit still spikes your insulin levels, that’s why lifestyles like slow carb, paleo, and keto restrict fruit intake as well.

      • Becky

        Paleo is a horrible lifestyle and needs to restrict fruit because the HIGH FAT from animal products keeps the sugar in the bloodstream instead of allowing sugar to naturally enter and exit at safe levels.

        • Aria Gonzalez

          Erm… it works for a lot of us…

      • Stardust

        Well, it doesn’t seem to effect me. Everyone’s different and just needs to find what works best for them.

  • @gingerhultinrd

    This dietitian says not to discredit the benefit of an appropriate intake of fruit due to it’s added benefit of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Fearing fruit is barking up the wrong tree. I do believe added sugars should be limited, absolutely!

    • Adrian

      Sure, fruit is less of a problem for the extras you mention, but clearly fruit should be considered in total sugar intake. It still spikes insulin levels, which is best to avoid by all accounts.

      • lauren

        Ha, i dont think any person, ever and anywhere, has gotten diabetes from eating too much fruit. Fruit is very healthy and your body needs those natural sugars. I know people who eat tons of fruit all day every day, seeing as they are vegan, and they are extremely healthy.

        • Adrian

          It’s a spectrum. Because you don’t think it so, or don’t know people who are unhealthier due to too much sugar from fruit, doesn’t make it so that tons of fruit isn’t detrimental. Anecdote is not evidence. Consider your sample.

          Sugar is sugar. Fruit is better than fruit juice, but both in excess are problematic to varying degrees. Or is fruit in any amount the panacea, above critique, and always good?

          • Abso

            Sugar is not ‘sugar is sugar’. Sugar cane is one thing. Sugar naturally occurring in fruit or milk is another thing. Two different stories. Too much of ANYTHING is unhealthy.

          • Adrian

            “Too much of anything is unhealthy.” That includes fruit sugar, which is not really so different from sucrose. Thanks for reiterating the point I made ;)

        • Aria Gonzalez

          I agree that no one gets diabetes from fruit… you might get something else nasty if you try to be fruitarian, though. However, I do think if you’re already diabetic or trying for ketosis, fruit can be a problem.

          • Becky

            Fruit is not the problem. However, it can become the problem when paired with high fat foods, as it will be forced to stay in the bloodstream until the fat gunk is released. Fruit is proven to help diabetes when paired with a low fat diet. I agree fruitarian is not healthy but the low fat high carb vegan lifestyle is the best. Composed of raw fruit AND vegetables and little amounts of nuts and seeds (instead of just fruit), the body absorbs all of it’s required nutrients. Check out the book “The 80/10/10 Diet” by Dr. Graham

          • Aria Gonzalez

            I have PCOS so I’m very sure carbs are a problem for me. I’ve lost over 100 lbs on the Primal/Paleo type diet…

        • Stardust

          Especially raw vegans! They don’t seem to be getting diabetes:p

  • Julia Adams

    Does honey count?

    • Fooducate

      Honey is added sugar.

      • Julia Adams

        Bummer. But thanx for the info.

  • John Ranta

    It’s not hard to eliminate added sugar. Don’t drink soda, and don’t eat packaged food. Which, once you start, is really not that hard.

  • Utopia

    The less sugar I eat, the less I want it and vice versa. I am not perfect and will never be, but I cut sugar every chance I get. I recently recognized how grumpy I become after eating sugary processed foods. I become short tempered and impatient. Additionally, sugar causes my heart to race when trying to fall asleep at night. Does this happen to anyone else? Those reasons alone keep me away.

    • Stardust

      The story of my life! If I eat alot of processed junk like ice cream, cookies, cake, etc., I can NOT fall asleep at night! I’ll be up until 2:00 in the morning before I finally get up to take some melatonin, which I rarely use. I also noticed that since I’m used to not eating those things on a daily basis, when I do eat them my stomach gets all sore and aches and hurts when I touch it. That keeps me away for awhile lol:p

  • Karrina

    Jee guys, I honestly don’t think any of us are getting “too much fruit and vegetables”. Yes, you can eat too much fruit and veggie sugars, but I doubt most of america is doing that.

    • H2O

      I totally agree

  • Bacon

    ADDED sugar = sugar not naturally occurring in food.

    The article is not suggesting that the typical North American is getting too much naturally occurring sugar from eating fruits, veggies and unsweetened dairy.

    So what if some fruit sugar spikes insulin. That’s your body working precisely the way it’s designed. What it’s not designed to do is maintain a steady Intake of sugar and constant insulin supply.

  • H2O

    Our bodies are made to eat fruit . Not the processed sugar added to food.

  • Aria Gonzalez

    I think I might already be there, honestly. My usual intake of added sugar is limited to dark chocolate. I do have sweet things, but usually fruits and the occassional date…

  • AdoptiveMum2Seven

    Oh my gosh, I used to think I would absolutely DIE if I had to cut sugar from my diet!! No more of my beloved Pepsi??

    On the advice of my dear ol’ family doctor, I cut out (most) added sugars cold-turkey and my daily headaches went away. No more cookies, Little Debbies, or sweet tea, found out I can’t stand diet drinks… and I lost a few dozen pounds! I don’t even miss the foods I used to love.

    So, could I halve my sugar intake? No.
    Get rid of it almost completely? Yup! And it wasn’t even as hard as I thought it would be!

  • Kate

    Anyone interested in learning about sugar and fructose, including metabolism, should check out “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” on YouTube. It’s a talk given by Dr Robert Lustig at UCSF. super informative and fascinating!

  • LolaAZ

    This article would be much more useful if the teaspoon/calorie values were also given in grams, as used on food labeling. I used a site called, which calculated 6 teaspoons to 30 grams.