Sugar Free – Part II

(c) humusak,

(c) humusak,

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about the sugar-free/sugar detox movement that’s been seemingly taking over the world lately. Curiously enough, just a few days ago, the big news in the food world was that the FDA has released a recommendation to lower the daily recommended intake of added sugar from 25% to just 10% of daily calories. They must have read my post and been spurred to action! 😉

Okay, I don’t have that much hubris, obviously. But I did think it was pretty cool. They’re also recommending that added sugar be on the nutrient label of all foods. This will make figuring out your added sugar SO EASY.

I talked a little in my last post about how to calculate the percentage sugar is of your daily calories. Since calculating just added sugar takes a little extra work for now, I thought today we could look at everything I ate yesterday and figure out the added sugar. I should use my brain for something useful during the summer, right?

If you need a refresher, here’s the difference between total sugar and added sugar:

Added sugar means it comes from a food that don’t naturally contain sugar. Frosted Cheerios, for example, are hella sweetened. Milk, on the other hand, naturally has lactose, a sugar, in it.

And here’s how to convert sugar in grams to sugar in calories:

Sugar is a carb, which means that every gram is worth four calories. So say I eat 100g of sugar in a day. That’s 400 calories from sugar in my diet that day. If I ate 2000 calories in the whole day, I divide 400 by 2000 to find my percentage: 0.2, or 20%.

Now that we’re all up to speed, let’s get started! You’ll need that total number of calories you ate that day, and the total number of calories from added sugar that you ate that day.  I use the USDA Food Database to calculate servings of sugar. It’s a very handy tool – just type in the kind of food you’re looking for, and it will bring up all the nutrition info you could possibly imagine needing. Just make sure to choose the right portion size. And you don’t need to be hyper-specific; for example, I had Nestle chocolate chips in my breakfast, but searching for semi-sweet chocolate got me what I needed. Don’t worry if you can’t find an exact match. I must admit, however, that they don’t have Yoohoo. This is a travesty.


2 chocolate chip pancakes with butter and sugar free maple syrup. One mozzarella string cheese stick. 10 ounces milk.

The only added sugar here is in the chocolate chips, since I used sugar free syrup and the sugar in milk is naturally occurring.

(c) berliner,

(c) berliner,

Added sugar: 2T chocolate chips, 12.4g, 49.6 calories


1/2 of a thin-crust, GF oven pizza. 1 homemade fruit smoothie (yogurt, milk, fruit, honey).

Added sugar: 1t honey, 5.69g, 22.76 calories


Tacos: crunchy shells, ground turkey, seasoning packet. Cheddar cheese. Lettuce. Tomato.

Added sugar: taco seasoning, 2g, 8 calories


Microwave popcorn, fat free. Yoohoo juice box.

Popcorn in a whole grain; because it’s a carbohydrate, it contains sugar, but it’s naturally occurring.  Yoohoo, however, is not a naturally occurring food and contains a ton of added sugar.

Added sugar: Yoohoo, 19g, 76 calories

So my added sugar today was 56.16g, or 224.64 calories. My total calorie count was 1962. So my added sugar for the day is 12% of my total daily calories.

Doesn’t seem like I ate much sugar, does it? Only one item per meal had added sugar. And yet I’m over what the FDA is recommending the USDA set as it’s limit.

I’ll tell you what the culprit is right now – the Yoohoo. With 19g of sugar in one little juice box, it’s nearly the same amount as a bottle of pop. Yikes!

So, there you have it! If you’re less of an organizational freak than me, and would like to make it a little easier on yourself, round your daily calories (so I would say I eat 2000). 10% of that would be 200 calories from added sugar, which divided by four means I can eat 50g of sugar per day. If you find it easier to just think of that, and keep a running tally of added sugar grams on your phone or whatever, that would also work.

What do you think of the FDA’s recommendation? Is 10% a reasonable number, or do you need more sweet stuff than that?

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