How much sugar a day: When does sugar become unhealthy?


Sugar is a sweet-tasting food that is obtained from plants and consists of sucrose. The main sources of sugar production are sugarcane and sugar beet.

In Germany, the average annual supply of sugar per capita was 35.61 kg in 2013. The annual supply is a statistical average value of production + imports - exports, converted per capita of the population, and is not equivalent to annual consumption. Below, we have answered the most important questions about sugar consumption.

The most important points summarized:

  • Sugar has numerous properties, its main function being to sweeten and provide energy. The preserving properties of sugar, on the other hand, are used in products such as juices and pickled products, making these foods longer-lasting.
  • High sugar consumption can have negative effects on our health. Some consequences can include a weakened immune system, tooth decay, or digestive problems. In addition, there are also sugar-related diseases such as diabetes, which is a pathological disorder of sugar metabolism. In this condition, the blood sugar level of the affected person is permanently elevated, damaging blood vessels and organs over time.
  • Athletes can also consume sugar in controlled amounts. To derive a sensible recommendation for sugar consumption in sports, many aspects must be considered. Experts say that once a person becomes active, and their muscles start working, they need glucose. Therefore, sugar is recommended in controlled amounts.

How much sugar a day: what you should know

Less sugar is more, there is no specific daily requirement for sugar because many factors play a role. Depending on age, gender, and health conditions, sugar consumption varies.

How much sugar should I consume per day?

The German Nutrition Society and other professional societies published a consensus paper with a recommendation on the maximum intake of free sugars in Germany.

Professional societies agree with the WHO recommendation of 2015 and advocate a maximum intake of free sugars of less than 10% of the total energy intake. With a total energy intake of 2 000 kcal per day, this recommendation corresponds to a maximum intake of 50g of free sugars. This also includes naturally occurring sugars in foods or fruit juices.

Application Dosage
Sugar for Diabetes maximum 50 grams
Sugar for fatty liver maximum 40 grams
Sugar in pregnant women already 80 grams double the fat production
Sugar in children maximum 25 grams
Sugar in adults Women max. 45 Grams, men max. 60 Grams

The quantitative recommendation of professional societies is not to be understood as a recommended intake, but rather as a maximum upper limit.

How much sugar is a day harmful?

Professional societies recommend that free sugars cover a maximum of ten percent of the total energy intake. That would be about 50 grams daily. Anything that exceeds the recommended amounts could be harmful. However, these values can also vary depending on the person, weight, age, etc.

8 things that happen to your body when you eat sugar
Experts repeatedly appeal for lower sugar consumption or even a sugar abstention.

For adult women, the maximum upper limit of the recommended amount of sugar per day is 45 grams, but for men, it is a maximum of 60 grams. However, it is essential to emphasize that these are maximum limits, and, as a rule, one should be guided by the 25 – 50 grams daily.

What are the effects of consuming too much sugar on the body?

Sugar consumption has serious effects on the body. In this section, we will focus on the significant diseases associated with it. Studies show that sugar consumption has similar effects on the brain as the consumption of cocaine, making sugar highly addictive. Therefore, adults should not exceed the recommended maximum intake of 50 grams per day.

High sugar consumption also promotes insulin production in the body, which is not only essential for regulating blood sugar levels but also acts as a growth hormone. This encourages the growth of cancer cells, which grow faster with high sugar consumption and use the effects of sugar as a growth hormone. Therefore, patients with cancer should consult their doctors to determine the exact amount of sugar they can consume, as this can vary.

Professor Dr. Andreas Pfeiffer, Head of the Clinical Nutrition working group at the German Institute of Human Nutrition in Potsdam-Rehbrücke, says that sugar alone does not cause diabetes. However, those who suffer from obesity, smoke, and consume too much sugar, are more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes.

In general, diabetes patients are recommended to consume a maximum of 50 grams of sugar per day. For gestational diabetes, the upper limit is 40 grams of sugar per day. However, factors such as age, gender, and weight also play a role, and therefore the intake should be calculated individually.

Another adverse effect of high sugar consumption is on the liver. Just 80 grams of sugar per day can double the production of fat in the liver, making people who consume this amount of sugar daily more prone to fatty liver disease.

What do studies and science say about sugar intake?

Excessive sugar consumption is considered one of the biggest health risks in the world. According to studies, more than six million people in Germany alone suffer from diabetes. Around 1,000 new patients are diagnosed with the disease every day. In 2015, 10,484 men and 13,773 women died of diabetes.

symptoms of too much sugar in your body
Daily sugar mountains are unhealthy and therefore you should avoid large amounts of sugar.

Lastly, 90 percent of diabetics suffer from Type 2 diabetes, which is mainly caused by poor nutrition and lack of exercise. The so-called "sugar disease" can have serious effects on the entire body, leading to long-term damage to blood vessels, nerves, and organs.

What role does sugar play in weight loss?

Depending on one's health status, sugar can play a crucial role in weight loss. The two organs involved in fat breakdown in the body are the liver and the pancreas. The pancreas produces insulin, which lowers blood sugar levels after consuming sweets.

The liver, on the other hand, converts sugar into fat. Insulin from the pancreas causes cells to store fat and inhibits fat breakdown. Therefore, if I constantly eat sugar, my body won't burn fat reserves, even if I regularly exercise. This results in building up a thick layer of fat over decades.

For weight loss or optimal health, it is recommended to consume Zero grams of added sugar per day. However, not only processed products contain sugar, but also foods such as oatmeal, potatoes, and fruit.

In general, a diet recommends that no more than 5% of daily calories should come from sugar. Therefore, the daily sugar intake should not exceed 25 grams per day.

Why is sugar bad for athletes?

Sugar can be harmful to athletes due to its effects on insulin levels, energy levels, and overall health. When an athlete consumes a large amount of sugar, their insulin levels spike, causing a sudden increase in blood sugar levels. This can lead to a quick burst of energy, but it is typically followed by a sudden drop in energy levels, which can leave athletes feeling fatigued and weak. Additionally, high sugar intake can lead to insulin resistance, which can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and other health problems.

Athletes who consume a lot of sugar may also find it harder to maintain a healthy weight. Excess sugar intake can lead to weight gain and the accumulation of fat in the body, which can impair athletic performance. Additionally, high sugar intake can cause inflammation in the body, which can increase the risk of injury and hinder recovery after workouts or competitions.

Overall, sugar is bad for athletes because it can negatively impact insulin levels, energy levels, weight management, and overall health. Athletes who want to perform at their best should limit their sugar intake and focus on consuming nutrient-dense, whole foods that provide sustained energy and support optimal health. By prioritizing healthy eating habits, athletes can fuel their bodies for optimal performance and achieve their fitness goals.

What are the natural alternatives to sugar?

So far, you have learned a lot about the amount of sugar you can consume daily and have been able to acquire some background information. In the following, we will show you what natural alternatives to sugar are available.

We have examined the natural sugar alternatives and found out how good they are for us and in what quantities we can consume them.

Agave syrup

Agave syrup has an extremely high sugar content, consisting mainly of fructose. According to the Consumer Advice Centre of North Rhine-Westphalia in Düsseldorf, the fructose content is around 80 percent. The sweetness of 100 grams of syrup is equivalent to about 125-150 grams of sugar. Experts, therefore, recommend not consuming more than 10 grams of agave syrup per day.

Maple syrup

Maple syrup is mostly made up of sugar but contains additional nutrients such as vitamin B and is antiseptic. Those who want to replace sugar with maple syrup can use 70 grams of maple syrup instead of 100 grams of sugar.


Honey is sweeter than sugar and consists of 17-19% water. To achieve the same sweetness, less honey is needed than sugar, and the energy density is lower. Therefore, honey is a natural and healthier alternative. One teaspoon of honey contains about 8 grams of sugar.


The Stevia plant has a sweetness of up to 300 times stronger than sugar and is almost calorie-free. Sugar causes a rapid and strong increase in blood sugar levels, while plant-based sweetener has little effect on blood sugar, making them a better sugar alternative. Significantly less Stevia is needed for the same sweetness, which is healthier for the body.

Beet syrup

Compared to conventional sugar, beet syrup has better nutritional values and is therefore healthier. 100 grams of beet syrup replace about 150 grams of sugar.


You have learned that consuming sugar in uncontrolled amounts can have negative effects on health and promote diseases. However, this does not mean that you have to completely avoid sugar. Besides household sugar, many natural alternatives are less harmful.

In controlled amounts, you can consume all types of sugar because sugar also has positive effects. Sugar has a positive impact on our brains and helps in the release of happy hormones. Moreover, sugar is also a source of energy and a natural energy supply for active people.

Ultimately, it is crucial to pay attention to the recommended daily amount of 50 grams of sugar to prevent long-term problems, as sugar can be very harmful. If you have been consuming uncontrolled large amounts of sugar for a long time, you should try to reduce it as soon as possible.

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