“Findings from large cross-sectional studies, in conjunction with those from well-powered prospective cohort studies with long periods of follow-up, show a positive association between greater intakes of SSBs [sugar-sweetened beverages] and weight gain and obesity in both children and adults… a 12-oz serving [12 oz = 1 can of soda (or 1 soda) = 1 serving] of soda provides 150 kcal and 40–50 g sugar in the form of high-fructose corn syrup [(HFCS) ≈45% glucose and 55% fructose], which is equivalent to 10 teaspoons of table sugar. If these calories are added to the typical US diet without reducing intake from other sources, 1 soda/d could lead to a weight gain of 15 lb or 6.75 kg in 1 y.” (16)
This means that if you drink even 1 can/bottle of soda or sweetened beverage per day with no other change to your diet or exercise, you can gain 15 pounds in a year due purely to the extra sugar content.
How Much Sugar is Too Much?
Naturally-occurring sugars like those found in fruits also come with vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals that facilitate their metabolism and allow cells to effectively use their nourishment.
The daily recommended amounts of carbohydrates are dependent upon age, size, and activity level. However, on average, the American Heart Association recommends limiting added sugars (not naturally-occurring) to 6 teaspoons/30 grams a day (about 100 calories) for women and 9 teaspoons/45 grams (about 150 calories) for men. (17)
Nutrition labels list the total carbohydrates in a packaged food and break that number into fiber and sugars. As a rule of thumb, more than 22.5g of sugar is considered too much sugar and 5g or less is low. (18) Total carbohydrate intake should make up roughly 45-65% of your daily calorie intake.
With a typical 2000-calorie/day diet, 900-1300 calories or 225-325 grams should come from carbohydrates. (19) You can use labels to figure out how much added sugar and total carbohydrates you’re getting from packaged food in a day. You can also find the carbohydrate content of produce by using resources like Nutrition Facts.
To give you an idea of the carbohydrate content of typical foods:
- 1 slice of white bread contains 15g (1.5g added sugar)
- 100g of pasta contains 25g (8% of total recommended daily allowance)
- 100g of rice contains 28g (.1g sugar)
- 1 medium-sized apple: 19g (including fiber)
- 100g of typical breakfast cereal: 68g (1g added sugar)
- 1 12-ounce can of cola: 39g (all sugar)
- 1 medium-sized carrot: 6g (including fiber)