Sugar is often seen as the enemy. If you’re trying to lose weight then you might think you need to avoid it altogether. You don’t need to cut it out COMPLETELY (I couldn’t live without chocolate!) but the question of how much sugar should you have in a day remains. 

So how much sugar should you have in a day?

Well, it depends on the type of sugar. In case you’re not familiar with the difference between the processed and natural sugar, I’ll explain briefly.

The Different Types Of Sugar

Processed sugar is made from either a sugarcane plant or sugar beet. The juice is extracted and then dried.

However, the smallest of changes in the cleaning, crystallizing and drying parts of this process can make a huge difference to the sugar produced.

In general, the more molasses remains in the sugar, the darker the sugar will be. You can also heat the sugar to change its color.

how much sugar should you have in a day

Natural sugar is different.

Natural sugar is the same basic element as processed sugar. It is a simple carbohydrate which is easily absorbed by your body to be used as energy.

But natural sugar is better for you than processed sugar! This is because it is natural and hasn’t been processed and refined.

Natural sugar is present in fruit, milk and even cheese. It does contribute to your calorie count but will also give you a range of nutrients, fibers, minerals, and antioxidants.

Of course, you can still eat too much of this natural sugar and your body will store it as fat.
how much sugar should you have in a day

Your Daily Sugar Allowance

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that no more than 10% of your daily energy intake is through sugar consumption. This applies to processed sugars AND natural sugars.  So if you eat 1600 calories per day, 10% is 160 calories, and this amounts to 40g of sugar (10 tsp).

There are other guidelines that state different amounts. And the WHO also suggests that a 5% intake would be better than 10%.

how much sugar should you have in a day

Of course, you should be focusing on natural sugars as these will give you other health benefits and not just be ‘empty calories’. Because of these health benefits (particularly fiber), they will also be absorbed slower by your body. This gives a gradual and prolonged energy boost and reduces the chance of diabetes in the future. 

Analysis Of Sugar In Popular Foods

So what do 5-10 teaspoons of sugar look like in the real world?

One teaspoon of sugar is approximately 4.2 grams (.14 ounces). This is not very much; especially when you start noticing how much is in some of the foods you eat on a daily basis:


A 100 gram (3.52 ounces) banana will give you 12 grams (.42 ounces) of sugar. This is about 3 teaspoons of sugar. Your average medium-sized banana is approximately this weight.


Every berry is slightly different but as an average, you’ll get 4-5 grams (.14 – .17 ounces) of sugar per cup of berries. This is one of the best sources of sugar as they are also full of fiber. And 1 cup of berries is only about 1 teaspoon of sugar – winning!

Peanut butter

You’ll find 9 grams (.31 ounces) of sugar in 100g (3.52oz) of peanut butter. A recommended single serving is approximately 30g (1oz).

how much sugar should you have in a day


White bread usually has sugar added to it. This gives it an approximate value of 5g (.17oz) of sugar to 100g (3.52oz) of bread.

To put this in context one slice of white bread is roughly 30g (1.05oz).


Of course, every cereal is different so you’ll need to check the sides of the box before you buy it.

how much sugar should you have in a day

On average, a 30g (1oz) bowl of cereal will contain 10g (.35oz) of sugar (but many of them have MUCH more!). That’s why you might want to consider making it at home, from scratch. A nice bowl of porridge with some fruit and nuts will do you much more good!

Or, if you don’t like porridge, you can try my favorite acai bowl recipe. Enjoy!

The Sugary Line

At the end of the day, you don’t need to avoid sugar completely. Avoiding “bad foods” and cutting them out of our diet can lead to an unhealthy relationship with food. Being aware of how much sugar is in certain foods and being vigilant when buying food will help to ensure you only consume what you need.

But don’t forget that the WHO guideline is just a guideline. If you are trying to lose weight, then staying under this amount is a good idea. But, if you are particularly active then you may get away with consuming a little more.

Most importantly, focus on natural sugars such as those in dairy, fresh fruit and veg as they provide lots of beneficial nutrients!

Rachael is an Australian born certified personal trainer and nutritionist who holds a Bachelor degree in Science.

After struggling for years to find an exercise and diet program that is tailored to women striving for lean and toned body with no bulk she designed her Lean Legs Program. This program is tailored to each body type and focused on helping women get toned but feminine bodies, without getting bulky.

Her mission is to empower women and help them stay in shape in a healthy and balanced way.

4 Responses

  1. I’m sorry Rachael, but I have to correct you. The World Health Organization is saying no more than 10% of your daily caloric intake should come from free sugars, which are processed sugars.

  2. Hola!
    Me gustaría comprar su programa para las piernas pero quería saber si esta la opción de que venga en español.

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