How Much Sugar Per Day Is Healthy?
Most people like it sweet. We like to drink soft drinks, fruit, cakes and sweets. Sweet attracts automatically. But how much sugar per day is healthy?
Since sugar became a part of our diet, we have a hard time keeping it off. But it is clear that this does cause serious problems.
When eating too much sugar you quickly think of obesity or diabetes. But you run the risk of many more health problems.
So How Much Sugar Per Day Is Healthy? In this article, you will find more information about the danger of eating sugar and useful tips that will help you to use less sugar yourself.
How Much Sugar Per Day Is Healthy?
You may wonder whether sugar in general is “healthy” for your body. It can be a source of energy, but it contains no other healthy nutrients. However, it can have quite negative consequences for your health. It is therefore important to be conscious of sugar and to consider whether you want it to be part of your diet.
“If you use sugar and you want to know how much you can eat in a day, it is best to rely on the information provided by the WHO (World Health Organization). Their advice is to get a maximum of 10% of the total number of calories you eat in a day from free sugars.”
These are sugars that manufacturers (and if you bake something yourself) add to products and also sugars in honey, fruit juice and syrups. It does not matter to your body whether you are talking about free sugars or natural sugars, it reacts the same to it.
With regard to the 10% of your diet that may consist of maximum sugar, that comes down to an average of 50 grams of sugar per day for a woman and 60 grams for a man. These are 12 sugar cubes.
According to the WHO, there is clear evidence that reducing free sugars to less than 10% reduces the risk of overweight, obesity and tooth decay.
“We have solid evidence that keeping intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake reduces the risk of overweight, obesity and tooth decay,” says Dr. Francesco Branca, Director of WHO’s Department of Nutrition for Health and Development.
What does that look like one day?
- Breakfast with branded cereal: 13 grams of sugar
- A glass of apple juice: 20 grams of sugar
- A Bastogne cookie: 5 grams of sugar
- Jam sandwich: 10 grams of sugar
- Dinner with satay sauce: 5 grams of sugar
This already puts you on a total of 53 grams of sugar.
With your normal diet, you will therefore quickly consume 50 grams of sugar per day. Then you haven’t even eaten sweets (licorice or chocolate). You also kept it neatly with one cookie.
If you drink more soda, sweets in between meals, if you cook a lot with ready-made products or if you take another dessert, you will soon reach a much higher percentage of sugar in a day.
The WHO actually advises to eat even less sugar. Instead of 10%, they say it would be healthier to keep it at a maximum of 5%. So they really recommend to be careful with sugar.
The last advice dates from 2006, when this council ruled that there is not enough evidence for the danger of high sugar consumption. They have not yet seen any reason to advise that sugar intake should be limited. There is therefore no maximum number of grams per day for sugar in our country. The European Authority for Food (EFSA) does not advise on this either.
What can you do to eat less sugar?
Do you want to eat less sugar? It is not easy for most people to really reduce the amount of sugar they eat. This is partly due to the addictive effect of sugar, but also because it is simply found in many products. Here I give you the tools to get this done.
To consume less sugar in a day, you can approach it in three ways:
Read the labels. If you go shopping without paying attention to the labels, you will still be consuming too much sugar unnoticed. You can only change if you also know what it is all about and start avoiding those products.
Change your eating habits. Choose natural products and not prepackaged products.
- Stick to your New Year’s resolution. This takes willpower and persistence. If you really go for it, you will succeed!
- Read the labels. If you go shopping without paying attention to the labels, you will still be consuming too much sugar unnoticed. You can only change if you also know what it is all about and start avoiding those products.
- Change your eating habits. Choose natural products and you can even eat low-carbohydrates.
You can eat sugar-free food as strictly as you want. You can achieve a lot with a few small adjustments. Realize that sugar has a strong appeal and it will take quite a bit of willpower to break that urge. But: The longer you eat less sugar, the easier it usually gets.
1. Make minor adjustments
You can read the labels well in the supermarket. Opt for products with as little sugar as possible or for sugar-free variants (watch out for sugar substitutes, such as aspartame, which are also not healthy). It is best to choose products that have been processed as little as possible. So take plain yogurt, instead of flavored yogurt. Organic cookies often contain less sugar than regular cookies. This also applies to cereals or muesli.
Remember that soda contains a lot of sugar. You can limit your sugar intake by avoiding soda and drinking water, coffee or tea instead.
That way you can also deal with eating biscuits, sweets or desserts. Stop eating this or, for example, only allow yourself a liquorice in the evening or at the weekend. Make sure you don’t go all out on the weekend and then undo what you did so well during the week.
2. Greater adaptation: cooking and baking yourself
Most sugar can be found in biscuits, candy, snacks, cereals and spreads. Dive into the kitchen and make your own healthy snacks. You make these with much less sugar, making them tastier and less sweet. You can make biscuits and snacks, but also your own spreads and cereals. It is usually not complicated and takes very little time. You can often make several servings at once and freeze them.
Also with cooking you can replace a lot with homemade products, such as sauces, dressings and marinades. This also contains a lot of sugar if you buy it in jars or bottles. You avoid a lot of sugar, taste better and it is often cheaper too. Try to keep your food purely natural as much as possible.
3. The biggest adjustment: Following the low-carbohydrate diet
The low-carbohydrate diet has many advantages if you want to eat less sugar. Sugars are fast carbohydrates, so you try to limit them as much as possible. But also grains, potatoes, rice and the like are carbohydrates. They all cause blood sugar to fluctuate. By banning these from your diet, you prevent these fluctuations. This keeps your energy even and you no longer get binges.
The advantage is that you get less and less appetite for sweet and the craving for sugar disappears. If you were addicted to sugar, this is no longer the case if you eat low carbohydrates for some time. In fact, if you follow this diet for a longer period of time, you usually no longer like products that are sweetened with sugar.
If you eat low in carbohydrates, you will hardly eat any products with sugar anymore. You can eat cookies that you make yourself from, for example, almond flour and sweeten these with honey or maple syrup. For breakfast, you eat natural yogurt with nuts and some fruit. For lunch you eat vegetables or eggs, at dinner you leave out potatoes and eat more vegetables.
It’s a great way to lose weight and then maintain your healthy weight. This gives you a much better overview of how much sugar you consume and you can easily control your eating behavior yourself.
With the low-carbohydrate diet, you can enjoy healthy and natural food that provides your body with everything it needs. Without binge eating, fluctuations in your energy and gloomy moods if you don’t get sugar.
The 6 health problems of eating a lot of sugar
In recent years, regular studies have been carried out into sugar consumption in the Netherlands. It turns out to be difficult to obtain realistic data about this, because most people do not know at all what all the sugar contains and so it is difficult to give figures.
Estimates are that the average person eats 122 grams of sugar per day. This is 44 kilos per year.
Whether these figures represent the truth is therefore the question. Because although we apparently have not started eating sugar since the eighties, we have collectively gained weight. In 1990 33% of people were overweight, in 2016 this was already 50%! Given the fact that an awful lot of products have been added to which sugar has been added, it seems obvious that sugar is partly the cause of this.
Despite the fact that sugar makes our food so tasty, it is important to limit its consumption. Because in addition to obesity and cavities, eating sugar causes even more health problems:
1. Sugar is addictive
The attraction of sugar works both physically and physically. The moment you eat something high in sugar, dopamine is produced in the brain. This is the happy hormone that makes you feel happy and cheerful. So it’s no wonder that you want to eat something with sugar over and over again, but to get the same feeling back you need more sugar every time.
It also seems physically that you get addiction symptoms. It is not entirely clear whether you can actually be physically addicted to sugar. It is true that after eating sugar you can end up in a dip that you feel both mentally and physically. You become depressed (mentally), but also tired and have little energy. This will make you long for something sweet again. On the other hand, you don’t get withdrawal symptoms if you don’t eat sugar.
2. Sugar makes you overweight
There are three reasons why sugar increases the risk of obesity.
- Binge eating
Sugar causes binge eating. That’s because it makes your blood sugar fluctuate. The lack of energy that arises afterwards makes you want to eat sweets. The urge you feel can be so strong that you indulge in snacks and other treats.
- Stored in fat
Since sugar does not contain any other valuable substances, the body quickly stores the calories in fat. First, this happens in the liver and the muscles, but then in the adipose tissue.
- Counteracts leptin
Leptin is the hormone released by fat cells that tells your brain that the body has eaten enough. So this is a very important substance that prevents overeating. Unfortunately, eating too much sugar can stop this hormone from working properly. This is due to the insulin that is produced after eating sugar. These two hormones work against each other and the insulin wins, you eat more than you should.
3. Energy fluctuations
Although you will initially feel more energetic after eating foods that are high in sugar, you will not feel tired for long afterwards. So this causes the craving for a new snack. By eating sugar you enter a vicious cycle of fatigue, eating sugar, short period of energy and fatigue again. This keeps you feeling restless and annoying all the time.
4. Increase the risk of diabetes
Your body produces insulin when you eat sugar. This helps to bring the blood sugar level back down. However, more and more insulin is needed to do this. Your cells become insensitive to insulin. This is called insulin resistance and is the early stage of type 2 diabetes.
People who eat a lot of sugar had higher cholesterol, especially the “bad” cholesterol (LDL).
6. High blood pressure
Studies show that high sugar consumption can increase blood pressure. Obesity can also cause high blood pressure. This is a risk factor for the development of the cardiovascular disease.