Sugar is found in everything from fruits and vegetables to processed foods and drinks. While it tastes delicious, excessive sugar intake can have serious health consequences. Understanding how sugar affects your body and knowing how much you should consume can help you make healthier choices.


Sugar is a quick source of energy because it’s rapidly digested, which means it rapidly increases your blood glucose levels. This can lead to an energy spike followed by a sharp crash, leaving you feeling fatigued and hungry soon after.


Consistent high-sugar intake can lead to insulin resistance, a condition where your cells become less responsive to insulin. This increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Sugar is also a major contributor to tooth decay and increased risk of heart disease: it can raise blood pressure, increase inflammation, and contribute to weight gain.

On top of this, diets high in sugar are associated with depression and anxiety. Rapid fluctuations in blood sugar levels can affect mood and energy, potentially contributing to mood swings and mental health issues. Excessive sugar can also overwork your liver, leading to fatty liver disease.


The amount of sugar you should consume depends on various factors. However, several health organizations provide general guidelines: “In both adults and children, the [World Health Organization] recommends reducing the intake of free sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake” (2015).

For even greater health benefits, the WHO suggests reducing this to below 5%. Free sugars include both naturally occurring and added sugars. “Health Canada suggests choosing foods with little to no added sugars, saturated fat, and salt, and choosing water rather than sugar-sweetened drinks” (The Canadian Sugar Institute, 2023).


Rather than trying to calculate calories based on percentage, our in-home and virtual personal trainers encourage clients to be mindful of the sugar content in packaged foods. Always check nutrition labels for added sugars, which can be listed under other names like sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, and cane sugar.

Choose whole and unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains — these foods are naturally low in sugar and high in nutrients — and cook at home when you can. Drinks like pop, fruit juice, and energy drinks are significant sources of added sugar; replace them with water, herbal tea, or unsweetened beverages.

If you’re craving something sweet, you may want to consider something with a sugar substitute: “A number of regulatory agencies have confirmed that aspartame and its breakdown products are safe and approved for use in the general population” (Healthline, 2023).

Lastly, choose healthy snacks like nuts, seeds, and hummus over sugary options like cookies, candy, and pastries. While there’s nothing wrong with having dessert, it should be a small part of your diet.


Sugar is delicious and addictive, and moderation is key to maintaining good health. Excessive sugar consumption can contribute to a host of health issues, from weight gain and diabetes to heart disease and mental health problems. Understanding how sugar affects your body and sticking to recommended guidelines allows you to enjoy sweetness without hurting your health. Make mindful choices, read labels, and prioritize whole foods to keep your sugar intake in check.

If you’re concerned about your dietary choices, our in-home and virtual personal trainers offer nutritional guidance to better support your health and fitness goals. First workouts are zero pressure, always free and can be booked here.