How does sugar intake cause weight gain?

Judy Caplan
Nutrition & Dietetics
Sugar is a carbohydrate. Too many carbs can lead to weight gain mainly due to extra calories in the diet. Watch your sugar intake whether it comes from sweets, candy, potatoes, breads and rice. Sugars in any form especially forms without fiber can lead to blood sugar fluctuations and cause cravings for more carbohydrates.
Jessica Crandall
Nutrition & Dietetics

Anything in excess can lead to weight gain. Consuming sugar in moderation is not the problem. The problem arises when people overindulge in high sugar foods, which tend to make you crave more sugar. Speak with your dietitian about how you can cut back on your sugar intake.

Jessica Ess
Nutrition & Dietetics

Aside from the calories it contains, sugar is a highly addictive substance. Some argue it is as addictive as drugs like heroin. When we eat sugar, it causes a neurotransmitter response that makes us feel good, and we experience a mild "high". Once this feeling subsides, we end up craving it again. Studies are even showing that, like drugs such as heroin, we build up a tolerance to the sugar and end up needing more and more to produce that same high. Therefore, the calories add up and we end up gaining weight.

Natalie Hesler
Nutrition & Dietetics
Sugar is a carbohydrate, which will eventually turn into fat in the body. Sugar affects insulin resistance and blood sugar levels in the blood, in turn spiking hunger, causing you to crave more sugary/carbohydrate foods. Sugar contains empty calories. 
Amy Jamieson-Petonic
Nutrition & Dietetics

Sugar comes from many foods, including sugary snacks such as cookies, cakes, pies, or white bread, rice or pasta. These foods provide very little nutrition, and people tend to overindulge in them. If you consume an additional 500 kilocalories per day from these items (approximately 5 cookies) these foods can lead to a 1 pound weight gain per week. 

Marilyn Ricci, M.S., R.D.
Nutrition & Dietetics
We love sugar. We love it from the day we are born. In the U.S., we have so many sweet foods available that it is hard not to eat too much sugar. Too much sugar (which often comes with too much fat) can cause you to gain weight. Any excess calories will lead to overweight and sugar is one of the easiest things to eat in excess. Many parents give children juice to drink whenever they are thirsty thinking this is good for them, but too much juice is not a good thing. When we are talking about sugar causing weight gain, we are talking about added sugar, not the sugar that is naturally in foods. It is difficult to eat so many apples that you would gain weight but not so hard to eat a lot of gummy bears. Watch the added sugars to lose or maintain weight.  
Ruth Frechman
Nutrition & Dietetics

Excess calories from any type of food can cause weight gain. Sugar only has 4 calories a gram. However, a 20 fluid ounce bottle of soda can have 325 calories. Over time this amount of soda, energy drinks, or sports drinks could cause weight gain. Added sugars make up around 16 percent of the total calories in American diets. If you are trying to lose weight, make sure that you get important nutrients from milk before spending excess calories on sweetened beverages.

Enas Shakkour
Nutrition & Dietetics

Sugar does not cause weight gain. Overconsumption of calories causes weight gain, and sugar does add excess calories. Sugar adds extra "empty" calories. "Empty" calories are calories that offer no nutritional value. I recommend that you keep your sugar intake to a minimum. Candies, sodas, sugary drinks, doughnuts, ice cream, and many other products are loaded with sugar. You can have some sugar every once in while, but try to keep your intake to a minimum. Sugar is not essential in your diet. So keep it at a minimum. Your diet should contain fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and unsaturated fats.

Laura Motosko, MSEd, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics

Sugar provides on average 4 calories per gram without any nutrients. Added sugar in your diet may provide excess calories of which will be stored in the body as fat. Strive for energy balance and a healthy weight by choosing nutrient dense foods most of the time including whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, healthy fats such as olive oil and protein sources such as lean meats, nuts, legumes, beans, soy or dairy without added sugar.

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Sugar consumption is linked to weight gain. Simple sugars tend to be more concentrated in foods, meaning that you consume more calories per mouthful. Cutting sugar intake is a quick and easy way to make extra calories disappear from your diet. Foods containing lots of refined sugar are high in calories, and most of those calories are nutritionally empty. What about fruit, doesn't it have a lot of "fruit" sugar (fructose), you might ask? The answer is yes, but it is so beneficial that fruit overcomes this problem.
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The RealAge Makeover: Take Years off Your Looks and Add Them to Your Life

Why not live at 60 feeling like you did at 35?Thousands of Americans are younger today than they were five years ago. How is that possible? By following the specific recommendations that reverse...

Continue Learning about Carbohydrates


Starches, sugars and fiber are the carbohydrates in food. Carbohydrates are a molecule that plants make during photosynthesis, combining carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. They are very important in your body's metabolism because they a...

re generally the part of food that is digested most quickly. Carbohydrates can give you quick energy, and cause a rise in blood sugar levels. Diabetics, in particular, need to pay attention to the carbohydrates they eat to help manage their blood sugar. Some carbohydrates, those found in whole grains and leafy vegetables, for example have a much slower impact on blood sugar than carbohydrates in fruits or candy. It's easy to consume a lot of carbohydrates, as foods like breads, pasta, cake, cookies and potatoes are loaded with them. Nutrition experts suggest that you should only get 45 to 65 percent of your daily nutrition from carbohydrates.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.