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Side Effects of Eating Too Much Sugar, Say Dietitians

We spoke with dietitians and experts to learn what really happens to your body on sugar.

A little sweet treat never hurt anyone, right? While it's totally okay to have dessert in moderation, if not properly portioned controlled, that added sugar can wreak havoc on your body. Not just the weight gain (which eating too much sugar is closely associated with), but also all the other negative side effects your body will experience when eating too much sugar. Especially if it's on a regular basis.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the amount of recommended sugar intake is 6 teaspoons (25 grams) for women and 9 teaspoons (36 grams) for men. However, the daily average that American adults consume is more like 77 grams of sugar a day, and for some children, it's 81 grams per day. Most of the time this number is increased due to added sugars. 47% alone comes from the added sugars in sugary beverages. Sweets and snacks come in second at 31%.

So what happens to your body if you're eating this amount of sugar every day? We spoke with dietitians, doctors, and other industry experts to learn about all of those negative side effects you may experience if you're eating too much sugar. Here's what they had to say, and for even more healthy tips, be sure to check out our list of The 7 Healthiest Foods to Eat Right Now.


You'll experience inflammation.

bowl of candy

"Excessive sugar intake can wreak havoc on your microbiome by feeding the negative bacteria and increase inflammation in your body. Focusing on reducing your sugar intake, whilst at the same time increasing your dietary fiber and prebiotic intake is a great way to combat this detrimental effect and knowingly support your gut health instead." Kara Landau NYC-based RD and founder at Uplift Food.


You'll gain weight.

oreo cheesecake

"One of the biggest side effects of eating too much sugar is weight gain," says Megan Byrd, RD from The Oregon Dietitian. "When you eat, your body releases insulin to help lower your blood sugar to a normal level. Insulin is naturally a 'fat-storing' hormone, so the more sugar you eat, the more insulin your body releases, and this causes you to put on extra fat."

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You'll still feel hungry.

pouring coke soda into glass

"Sugary drinks don't curb your hunger, so it's easy to consume too many liquid calories, which may lead to weight gain," says Lisa Young, PhD, RDN and author of Finally Full, Finally Slim. "It is important, however, to distinguish between added sugar (soda, sugar, candy) and naturally occurring sugar (from fruit). Fruit sugar is far healthier and also full of nutrients."

For healthier treats, check out our 5 Healthy Dessert Habits For A Flat Belly.


You'll be at a higher risk for disease.

Bowl of oatmeal with brown refined sugar and milk

"Consuming too much added sugar may also increase [the] risk for heart disease, by contributing to obesity, inflammation, and high blood pressure," says Young. "Diets high in added sugar have also been associated with a higher risk of dying from heart disease."


You'll crave even more sugar.

dessert assortment on blue table

"Another side effect of eating too much sugar is that you start craving more and more sugar," says Byrd. If your body has to release a ton of insulin to get your blood sugar back down to a normal level, sometimes that can cause a 'sugar crash.' That leaves you even more hungry and craving anything that will bring your blood sugar back up, aka sugar and carbs. This can be a vicious cycle, especially if your body becomes used to going through the sugar high, sugar crash cycle. You end up craving sugar even when you aren't even hungry!


Your skin will age faster.

woman eating dessert

"Skin is primarily composed of collagen and elastin, which are two types of protein. And it is these two proteins (collagen and elastin) that play a major role in keeping our skin soft, supple, and youthful-looking," says Dr. Phoenyx Austin, MD, founder and creator of DR.PHOENYX® Nutrition & Beauty. "Now when it comes to sugar, the problem arises because eating too much of it can destroy the collagen proteins and accelerate the aging process of your skin—which then leads to negative side effects like premature wrinkles and sagging skin. Plus, as we women age, our skin will naturally lose collagen—and the same natural loss of collagen goes for other areas of our body, like our bones and joints."

"That's why I always tell women that the simplest and smartest thing you can do right now if you want to significantly improve the health and beauty of your skin, is to focus on your diet and nutrition—and more specifically, to just eat less sugar," says Dr. Austin. "Do this, and not only will your skin look and feel amazing, but you'll also tap into the fountain of youth by slowing down your skin's aging process!"

Here are 6 Things Your Skin Is Telling You About Your Diet.


It could lead to type 2 diabetes over time.

eating apple dessert

"Eating too much sugar may lead to insulin resistance and eventually type 2 diabetes," says Krishna Kaliannan, CEO and Founder of Catalina Crunch. "For example, in the below meta-analysis, the authors pooled the results of eight separate studies. Each of these eight studies compared people who drank a lot of sugary drinks (like soda) versus people who didn't drink a lot of sugary drinks. The authors of the meta-analysis found that people who drank more sugary drinks were more likely to have type 2 diabetes."

A simple solution? Don't overdo it on the sugar and portion our your sweets, like indulging in one of these 76 Best Dessert Recipes for Weight Loss.

Kiersten Hickman
Kiersten Hickman is a freelance health and nutrition journalist. Read more about Kiersten
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