Sugar: how much is too much?

November 27, 2013 by  
Filed under Nutrition Tips

Sugar is something we’re often told to ‘avoid’ but the reality is if we avoided sugar altogether we could be potentially eliminating some otherwise healthy foods; take yogurt for example.

Our American neighbours published ’refined and processed’ sugar consumption guidelines in the late 1990′s that have still not changed today now that the new dietary guidelines have been released.  The guidelines state that we should “reduce the consumption of refined and processed sugars” “to account for about 10% of total energy intake” (I’m using American guidelines because ours are even more vague!).  If you’re like me, a guideline like this is hard to interpret.

Try this guideline instead; read the Nutrition Facts Table of the product you’re going to consume. If the grams of sugar are 10g or less, then the product is a keeper (that’s the Spectrum Nutrition guideline ;) .

How did I arrive at this acceptable sugar consumption guideline?  Well, if you take an average diet of 2000 calories, 10% of those calories from sugar would equal 200 calories.  If you didn’t already know this, there are 4 calories in every gram of sugar so by my calculation that means the average person could potentially handle 50g of sugar in a day and still fall within the national guidelines for healthy eating.

On average, we tend to consume about 5 ‘products’ a day – meaning processed products such as granola bars, cereal, yogurt etc. and therefore if you stick to the 10g sugar rule for each of these products, you’ve stuck to the overall goal of no more than 10% of your daily calories from sugar.  Now, of course if you consume much more than 5 ‘processed’ products in a day you’ll need to do some adjusting.  But remember, sugar is not the enemy – it’s just that too much is too much!