Everyone loves sugar, and enjoying sugary treats can certainly make your life a whole lot sweeter. While consuming it in moderation is fine, it’s the excess consumption of sugar that can potentially lead to some health complications. But what exactly happens when you eat too much sugar?
“It’s important to be mindful of your sugar intake and try to limit the consumption of added sugars in your diet,” says Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSD, LD. “The American Heart Association recommends that women limit their daily added sugar intake to no more than 100 calories (about 25 grams or 6 teaspoons) and men to no more than 150 calories (about 37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons). Be sure to read food labels and make informed choices to maintain a balanced and healthy diet.”
Eating more than these recommended daily limits on occasion will most likely not have too many side effects, but research has found that there are serious health complications that can come from consuming too much sugar consistently. For one, added sugar has been linked to an increased risk of chronic inflammation. Research also shows that excess sugar consumption over time can increase your risk of diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes. On top of all that, too much sugar can also negatively impact your gut microbiome, which can also have pro-inflammatory effects.
You’re constantly craving sugar.
Here are some signs that you may be eating too much added sugar in your diet. Read on, and for more healthy eating tips, check out 10 Ways to Break Your Sugar Addiction—For Good.
According to Goodson, “If you find yourself constantly craving sugary foods or drinks, it may be a sign that you’re consuming too much sugar.” She says that this is because “High sugar intake can lead to a cycle of cravings and overconsumption due to blood sugar spikes and crashes.”
Your blood sugar will rise and fall more quickly—leading to a crash—when you consume foods high in sugar and void of other nutrients like fiber or protein.
Your energy levels have been fluctuating.
This is what the Glycemic Index can help explain. If a food has a high glycemic rating, it means it is absorbed by your body at a fast rate and will cause a rapid spike in blood sugar, leading to more cravings. These foods include things like candy, soda, donuts, muffins, etc. If a food has a low glycemic rating, it means it contains fiber to help your body absorb it more slowly and will therefore create a more balanced blood sugar response. These foods include vegetables, whole grains, legumes, etc.
Eating high-sugar foods (also known as high-glycemic foods) may spike your blood sugar and leave you craving more.
You might be experiencing dental problems.
Speaking of blood sugar crashes, another symptom you may experience after eating too much sugar is fluctuations in your energy levels—which can be caused by rapid spikes in blood sugar levels.
“A diet high in sugar can lead to energy spikes and crashes, and if you experience frequent energy fluctuations, feeling hyperactive and then suddenly fatigued, it could be due to excessive sugar consumption,” says Goodson.
If you experience this often, you can balance your blood sugar better by “pairing a high-fiber carbohydrate (a whole grain or fruit) with some protein,” Goodson explains. “Protein slows down digestion and helps stabilize blood sugar after a meal or snack.”
If you’re experiencing issues with your oral health, sugar may be the culprit.
“Sugar is a primary contributor to tooth decay and cavities, so if you’re experiencing frequent dental issues, it could be a sign of excessive sugar consumption,” says Goodson.