While there are no formal US guidelines around how much total sugar you should have in a day, the American Heart Association recommends added sugars contribute no more than 6% of your total calories each day [1
]. This equates to:
Men: No more than 150 calories/day (36 g or 9 teaspoons)
Women and children aged 2+: No more than 100 calories/day (25 g or 6 teaspoons)
Children under 2: Not recommended to consume added sugars
Not all sugar is created equal, as foods can contain both natural and added (refined) sugars. Natural sugars are present predominantly in fruit and dairy products like milk and yogurt. The naturally occuring sugars in these foods provide the body with energy and are packaged with other important nutrients essential for good health–including fiber, potassium, and B vitamins.
Conversely, added (or refined) sugars increase the calorie content of foods but provide no other nutritional benefits [2
]. Unlike naturally occurring sugars that are typically paired with fiber and/or protein, your body rapidly breaks down added sugars causing insulin and blood sugar levels to spike.