How Much Sugar Can a Person with Diabetes Have?

Some sugar may be okay if you have diabetes.
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Sugar, or more specifically sucrose (table sugar), can make up to 10 to 35 percent of your caloric intake, as long as it takes the place of starchy carbohydrates you're currently consuming.

According to an Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics review of the research, replacing starch with that amount of sucrose on a daily basis won't have an adverse effect as long as you don't increase your total calories.

If you typically consume 2,000 calories per day, that' means you can have 50 to 175 grams of sugar per day.

You'll want to keep track of how much you eat. A candy bar can easily have 30 grams sugar, and a can of sugar-sweetened soda has around 40 grams of sugar. A teaspoon of granulated sugar has 4 grams sugar.

Keep in mind, foods that you don't think of ​as sugary may still have some sugar, so you need to keep track, check the Nutrition Facts Labels.

But Extra Sugar Is Just Empty Calories

Just because you can swap your starches for sugary foods doesn't mean you should, at least not on a regular basis. You need to be careful that you don't take in more calories than you need. Sugary foods are energy-dense and usually aren't as nutritious. Whole grain cereals, sweet potatoes, sweet corn, barley, oats, and brown rice that have fiber, vitamins, and minerals that a candy bar or piece of just cake doesn't have.

It's important to eat a balanced diet and keep your daily carbohydrate intake (from both starches and sugars) consistent from day to day. Speak to your health care provider, dietitian, nutritionist, or diabetes educator before making any changes in your diet.


Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Evidence Analysis Library. "DM: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS (2008)

American Diabetes Association. "Make Your Carbs Count." 

American Diabetes Association. "Nutrition Recommendations and Interventions for Diabetes A position statement of the American Diabetes Association."

Maher AK. "Simplified Diet Menu." Eleventh Edition, Hoboken NJ, USA: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing, October 2011. 

The United States Department of Agriculture. "National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28."

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