How Bad is Sugar for You? Symptoms & Effects of Eating Too Much Sugar and Why to Reduce your Intake

How Bad is Sugar for You - Symptoms & Effects of Eating Too Much Sugar and Why to Reduce your Intake 2

Ever wondered why eating too much sugar is bad for you? Here we will discuss the symptoms & effects that sugar has on your health and how you can reduce your intake


What is Sugar?

Sugars are types of carbohydrates that provide a quick source of energy. When talking about sugars, we are referring to these “simple” broken down carbohydrate sugars

‘Refined ‘ or ‘processed’ sugars (such table sugar) provides quick energy (a sudden increase in blood sugar levels) but  falls quickly shortly after (often referred to as the ‘sugar crash’). This is the reason why you feel tired not long after consuming sugary foods


Why is Sugar so bad?

Sugar is bad because it:

  • does not contain any nutritional value (no vitamins, minerals, healthy fats, fiber or enzymes)
  • provides ’empty calories’
  • does not give you sustained, long lasting energy
  • messes with your blood sugar levels


Symptoms after Eating Too much sugar

Suddenly removing sugar from the diet can cause the following ‘withdrawal symptoms’:

  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • fogginess
  • tiredness
  • mood swings
  • dizziness
  • achy limbs
  • headaches
  • upset stomach


Long Term Health Effects

Too much sugar in the diet can lead to many health problems including:

  • Tooth decay (sugar feeds bacteria in mouth)
  • Breakouts
  • Weight gain

These are the other, more serious health outcomes that can result from too much sugar in the diet:

  • Obesity (in both children & adults)
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • Cancer

Eating too much sugar has been linked to a condition (insulin resistance) that may increase your risks for Type 2 diabetes and Heart Disease. According to the Dietetic and Diabetic Associations, the leading cause of most chronic diseases is due to increased sugar consumption


Studies have shown that:

There is a strong correlation between sugar consumption and Obesity, with daily consumption of soft drinks in children increasing their risk by 60%

People who drink sugary drinks have an 83% higher chance of developing Type 2 Diabetes

There is a strong correlation between sugar consumption and Heart disease – large amounts of fructose raise insulin, as well as bad cholesterol levels – both are risk factors for heart disease

Eating a lot of sugar puts you at a higher risk of developing Cancer (may be due to having continuously high levels of insulin and increased inflammation)

People with Fatty liver disease (fructose has accumulated in the liver) consume 2-3 times more fructose than people who don’t have the disease

Fructose does not trigger the hunger hormone ‘ghrelin’ as efficiently as glucose does, and fructose drinkers are hungrier despite high consumption of sugar (have less activity in satiety centers in the brain)


How much Sugar is Too much sugar?

A moderate intake of sugar can be an acceptable as part of a healthy diet but intake should be kept below 10% of your daily calories (approximately 3 tablespoons)

The Heart Foundation has set limits on our intake of added sugars and recommends that:

Women should have no more than 6 teaspoons (24 grams) of added sugar per day (100 calories)

Men should have no more than 9 teaspoons (36 grams) of added sugar per day (150 calories)

How Bad is Sugar for You - Symptoms & Effects of Eating Too Much Sugar and Why to Reduce your Intake


Where is Sugar found?

Sugar is naturally found in fruit, root vegetables, honey & milk. But sugar can take on many forms – including white, raw or brown sugar. ‘Added sugars’ are found in many processed foods that are often also high in fat, such as chocolate, biscuits & cakes


What are Added Sugars?

‘Added sugars’ are sugars and syrups that are added to foods or beverages when they are processed or prepared. This does not include naturally occurring sugars such as those in fruits

Much of the calories we consume could be coming from ‘added sugars’. These are hiding in places you’d never expect

Some unexpected foods include:

  • Peanut butter
  • Pasta sauce
  • Salad Dressings
  • Mayonnaise
  • Ketchup
  • Hamburger buns
  • Nut Bars, Protein Bars & Muesli bars
  • Fruit juice
  • Sports drinks

Some drinks that people consider to be healthy are high in sugar and contribute to weight gain, especially when people are not fully aware about what they are consuming


Sugar are also hidden in many foods that are labeled ‘low fat’ or ‘fat free’

Low fat foods often use sugar as a replacement & to enhance flavor. Fat free yogurt, for example, has 180% more sugar than plain greek yogurt


It is easy to overindulge in foods high in sugar, especially drinks (eg. soft drinks). Carbonated soft drinks are the largest source of ‘refined sugar’ in the American diet

Soda has 40 grams (10 teaspoons) of sugar, so 1 soda per day = 55 pounds of sugar per year

Some other obvious contenders include: sweets, biscuits, ice cream, doughnuts, sweet rolls, pastries and energy drinks


The Biggest Culprits & Major food and beverage sources of ‘added sugars’ for Americans are:

  • Regular Soft Drinks
  • Sugars & Candies
  • Cakes, Cookies and Pies
  • Fruit Drinks & Juices
  • Dairy Desserts and Milk
  • Other Grains


Ways to Reduce Sugar Intake:

How Bad is Sugar for You -Symptoms & Effects of Eating Too Much Sugar and Ways to Reduce your Intake

Here are some ways to reduce the amount of sugar you get in your diet:

1. Avoid candies, cookies, cakes, muffins & doughnuts

Sugars are often found together with fats in these foods which is likely to contribute to being overweight or obese


2. Avoid sodas, cordials, fruit drinks, vitamin waters, energy drinks, sports drinks & other sweetened beverages

These, along with flavored coffees are common items filled with added sugars and can add up the calories very quickly


3. Watch out for hidden sugars

Foods perceived as healthy may contain a high content of sugar, such as nutrition bars & cereals


Tips to Avoid Hidden Sugars:

1. Check the label for added sugar (listed under carbohydrates) – no more than 5 grams per 100 grams

2. Look at the ingredients list for hidden sugars:

If on the ingredient list it includes any word with ‘-ose’ at the end or contains the words ‘syrup’, ‘cane’ or ‘sugar’, it contains sugar! The higher it is on the list, the more sugar is in that food

Look for the following ingredients:

  • anhydrous dextrose
  • brown sugar
  • confectioner’s powdered sugar
  • corn syrup
  • corn syrup solids
  • dextrose
  • fructose
  • high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  • honey
  • invert sugar
  • lactose
  • malt syrup
  • maltose
  • maple syrup
  • molasses
  • nectars (e.g., peach nectar, pear nectar)
  • pancake syrup
  • raw sugar
  • sucrose
  • sugar
  • white granulated sugar

You may also see other names used for added sugars, but these are not recognized by the FDA as an ingredient name. These include:

  • cane juice
  • evaporated corn sweetener
  • fruit juice concentrate
  • crystal dextrose
  • glucose
  • liquid fructose
  • sugar cane juice
  • fruit nectar


4. Limit use of ketchup, salad dressings, cream or yogurt sauces, jams & jellies, syrups, whipped cream & spreads

Use sparingly as these are high in sugar content. Avoid more than 2 tablespoons of these at any given meal


5. Buy fresh fruit & vegetables rather than canned

Avoid products canned in syrup – or choose canned fruits that are ‘lite’ or with 100% fruit juice


6. Eat sugars found naturally in fruit and other unprocessed snacks

These foods contain sugars but also provide nutritional value that is essential for a healthy diet

Natural Sugar Sources include:

  • Fresh & dried fruit
  • Fresh vegetables
  • Whole grains or 100% wholegrain snacks


Watch this Video for a Summary of ‘Sugar’


Infographic Summarizing the symptoms & effects of ‘Sugar’

How Bad is Sugar for You Symptoms & Effects of Eating Too Much Sugar and Why to Reduce your Intake


Learn more about hidden sugars in various food products & drinks



Other Related Videos to Watch:

This video explores the dangers of sugar in the diet – it is not just fat & salt in our diet that is making us sick


In this video, Dr Robert H. Lustig explores the damage that sugary foods can cause, arguing that too much fructose (& not enough fiber) in the diet appear to be the largest contributor to obesity (through it’s effects on insulin)




Sugar can be found in many (some unexpected) foods available for consumption today. Consuming high amounts of sugar has been associated with an increased risk for diseases such as obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, Heart Disease and even Cancer. Lowering overall intake of sugar, especially for those who are inactive, can therefore have drastic effects on weight, reduce your risk for disease and diminish other negative effects that eating too much sugar has

Small amounts of sugar added to healthy meals like oatmeal, whole grain cereals or bread (eg. adding jam) are okay to have in moderation. Learning how to consume less sugar, by reading food labels for example, can assist in weight loss and prevent many of the symptoms & harmful effects that sugar has on your health

How Bad is Sugar for You Symptoms & Effects of Eating Too Much Sugar and Why to Reduce your Intake - product

How Bad is Sugar for You -Symptoms & Effects of Eating Too Much Sugar and Why to Reduce your Intake - Product

You may also like...