The U.S. government thinks you’re sweet enough. In fact, the USDA even issued guidelines recommending that Americans keep their consumption of added sugars low—to about 200 calories a day for those following a 2,000-calorie diet. Their guidelines translate to about 45 grams of sugar a day, tops, or about 11 teaspoons. But organizations from the American Heart Association to the World Health Organization recommend cutting that number further; they say no more than 100 calories per day, or about 6 teaspoons of sugar for women, and no more than 150 calories per day, or about 9 teaspoons, for men is best for optimal health.
Think 11 teaspoons of sugar a day sounds like a lot? Well, it is. But you’ll be surprised how easy it is to eat that much; in fact, the average American woman consumes about 25 teaspoons (100 grams!) of sugar a day. And if you’re dining out a lot, there’s a chance you’re consuming a lot more of the sweet stuff, as the sugar in restaurant food isn’t blatantly advertised when you’re perusing the menu. Surprisingly, a lot come from foods you’d never think of as “sugary.”
Buffalo Wild Wings Asian Zing Boneless Wings
(per 20 wings) 1,550 calories, 63 g fat (24 g saturated fat, 4 g trans fats), 6,480 mg sodium, 151 g carbs (4 g fiber, 78 g sugar), 98 g protein – 20 wings may seem like a lot, but it’s easy to get carried away with bite-size boneless wings. They are described as “Sweet meets heat: A chili pepper, soy and ginger sauce” but judging by the nutrition, the two flavors met, and sweet just ran right by and claimed these wings as its own.
Denny’s Salted Caramel And Banana Cream Pancake Breakfast
930 calories, 24 g fat (15 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 1,600 mg sodium, 166 g carbs (6 g fiber, 79 g sugar), 15 g protein – Here, shortbread pieces are stuffed into buttermilk pancakes and then are topped with not just vanilla cream, but also bananas and warm salted caramel sauce. And then more shortbread pieces on top. Still not full? You can round out the meal with the extra bacon, eggs, and hash browns.
Panda Express 3-Entree Plate
(For Chow Mein, Sweetfire Chicken Breast, The Original Orange Chicken And Beijeng Beef) 1,850 calories, 84 g fat (16.5 g saturated fat), 2,660 mg sodium, 224 g carbs (10 g fiber, 79 g sugar), 64 g protein – They call them “sweetfire” meats for a reason. Listen to the warning shot, and take evasive action. Getting a trio of String Bean Chicken Breast, Broccoli Beef, and Kung Pao Chicken with a side of brown rice instead will save you a ton of sugar!
Chili’s Crispy Honey Chipotle Crispers With BBQ Sauce
1,900 calories, 90 g fat (15 g saturated fat), 4,970 mg sodium, 219 g carbs (13 g fiber, 80 g sugar), 57 g protein – With the word “crisp” in the title twice, you’d think fat would be your biggest worry, but Chili’s manages to pack 52 grams of sugar into the actual Crisper itself—before even adding on the BBQ Sauce.
IHOP Strawberry Vanilla Stuffed French Toast
1,080 calories, 44 g fat (22 g saturated fat; 0.5 g trans fat), 810 mg sodium, 155 g carbs (6 g fiber, 85 g sugar), 17 g protein – Anytime you see “stuffed” to describe a menu item, you know it’s going to be highly caloric, but 85 grams of sugar is simply way too much to be consuming in one meal.
O’Charley’s Baby Back Ribs, Carolina Gold
1,220 calories, 62 g fat (22 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 4,150 mg sodium, 96 g carbs (3 g fiber, 86 g sugar), 67 g protein – The sugar in these Baby Back Ribs isn’t the only culprit. The sodium in this dish is through the roof, and this is without any side dishes factored in.
Applebee’s Honey BBQ Riblets Platter
(SERVED WITH FRIES AND COLESLAW): 1,690 calories, 77 g fat (22 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 3420 mg sodium, 168 g carbs (12 g fiber, 87 g sugar), 84 g protein – Yes, honey is an added sugar, no matter what Winnie the Pooh says.
Jamba Juice Strawberry Surf Rider, Large
420 calories, 2 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 25 mg sodium, 102 g carbohydrates, (3 g fiber, 92 g sugar), 1 g protein – Strawberry Surf Rider? Strawberry Couch Rider might be a better name for this sugary combination of fruit, lime sherbet, and lemonade. Even downgrading to the smallest size, 16 ounces, will still put you at 54 grams of the sweet stuff.
BJ’s Restaurant And Brewhouse Baby Back Pork Ribs Full Rack With Peppered BBQ Sauce
1,300 calories, 68 g fat (25 g saturated fat), 7,840 mg sodium, 119 g carbs (2 g fiber, 100 g sugar), 50 g protein – We don’t know what is in the Big Poppa Smokers’ Sweet Money Championship Rub, but it turns this full rack of pork ribs into an item worthy of the dessert menu with 100 grams of sugar. For something a little more figure-friendly that saves you over 100 grams of sugar, plus 500 calories to boot, ask for the sirloin instead. It’s packed with just as much protein!
Cheesecake Factory Bruleed French Toast With Bacon
2,180 calories, 131 g fat (70 g saturated fat; 4 g trans fat), 1,070 mg sodium, 208 g carbs (7 g fiber, 115 g sugar), 45 g protein – Calling this “dessert for breakfast” wouldn’t even cut it, since an average slice of white cake with chocolate frosting only has 30 grams of sugar.
Chili’s Crispy Honey Chipotle & Waffles
2,600 calories, 125 g fat (40 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 4,730 mg sodium, 306 g carbs (13 g fiber, 123 g sugar), 64 g protein – No one ever thought chicken and waffles is healthy, but would you have guessed your order came with more added sugars than you should consume in two whole days?
Denny’s Cinnamon Roll Pancake Breakfast With Cream Cheese Icing
1,030 calories, 35 g fat (11 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 1,660 mg sodium, 188 g carbs (4 g fiber, 127 g sugar), 10 g protein – The chefs at Denny’s must’ve had a field day with this one, as you’re treated to buttermilk pancakes that are “cooked with cinnamon crumb topping and topped with whipped cream and are served with a pitcher of warm cream cheese icing for drizzling.
Smoothie King The Hulk Strawberry, 40 Oz
(per 40 oz size) 1,690 calories, 64 g fat (31 g saturated fat), 730 mg sodium, 272 g carbs (20 g fiber, 227 g sugar), 57 g protein
“Blended to help you get toned, build muscle, last longer or recover faster” is the claim Smoothie King makes for its line of Fitness Blends, of which The Hulk is the beefiest. It contains butter pecan ice cream and a proprietary “weight gain blend.” We’re pretty sure we know what’s in that: about five days’ worth of sugar.