What's a Healthy Daily Sugar Intake?

It's not good to eat sugar in large quantities. However, it's necessary for certain diets. Here, we'll talk about the recommended daily sugar intake.
What's a Healthy Daily Sugar Intake?

Last update: 28 December, 2020

The recommended amount of carbohydrates to consume every day has changed a lot in recent years. In fact, currently, experts are more restrictive with these nutrients since it can be harmful in certain contexts. Next, we’ll explain what your daily sugar intake should look like.

First of all, keep in mind that simple sugars are the worst quality types of carbohydrates since they’re highly processed. However, as with many nutrients, they have different uses. For example, they might be helpful in athletics to avoid the onset of fatigue.

Beware of sugar in sedentary people

When we talk about sedentary people, it’s best to limit your daily sugar intake as much as possible. Despite the fact that the World Health Organization says you can have about 10 grams of this ingredient in your daily diet, scientific literature states it can be harmful if consumed regularly.

For this reason, when introducing carbohydrates into your diet, it’s best for them to be complex. In this way, you can regulate your blood sugar more efficiently, and there will be less stress on the pancreas.

In addition, foods high in complex carbohydrates often have lots of fiber, which is beneficial for your health.

What is the daily sugar intake for athletes?

Coffee on a table.

However, things can change for athletes. Although people doing aerobic disciplines don’t need a higher daily sugar intake, those who train hard can benefit from it. Sugar serves, among other things, to replenish glycogen stores quickly, as shown by a study in the journal Nutrients. 

According to data from this study, after training it’s recommended to consume 0.8 grams of sugars per kilogram of weight per hour of exercise. This can include both simple and complex carbohydrates. In addition, you should also consume at least 20 grams of protein to maximize glycogen replacement.

With this diet, you’ll have a more efficient energy recovery, which reduces the risk of injury. At the same time, you can also use sugar in the pre-workout to balance your blood glucose.

However, in this situation, it’s best not to have more than 10 grams to prevent reactive hypoglycemia. Even within the workout session itself, you can include a drink with sugar, in a 6 percent solution. This doesn’t cause gastric discomfort, and it delays the onset of fatigue.

Beware of overdoing your daily sugar intake

An apple and a glass filled with sugar.

Although anaerobic athletes need higher amounts of sugar in their diets, this doesn’t mean they can have as much as they want. Consuming too much of this ingredient can cause excess weight gain or increase insulin resistance. Then, this can affect the metabolism, which can affect the athlete’s performance.

It’s important to be precise when regulating sugar in your diet. Rather than giving a specific number, it’s better to keep in mind that each body is different. Also, needs may vary depending on the sport and the athlete’s workload.

Let’s say that the best times to consume sugar are pre-workout and post-workout. In addition, you can add this ingredient during sports practice if it’s long.

Regulating sugar intake improves health

In any case, and except in specific cases, regularly consuming sugar is associated with a worse state of health. For this reason, it’s important to reduce your intake. It can cause metabolic problems, and it’s even associated with a higher incidence of cancer.

In this sense, when it comes to introducing carbohydrates into the diet, it’s best for them to be complex. Then, blood sugar can be stable and metabolic flexibility doesn’t go down, which was originally related to an increase in body weight. Always try to prioritize eating fresh foods over processed foods, which have a lot of sugar.

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  • Freeman CR., Zehra A., Ramirez V., Wiers CE., et al., Impact of sugar on the body, brain, and behavior. Front Biosci, 2018. 23: 2255-2266.
  • Alghannam AF., Gonzalez JT., Betts JA., Restoration of muscle glycogen and functional capacity: role of post exercise carbohydrate and protein co ingestion. Nutrients, 2018.