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Here’s How Much Sugar is Really In The Food We Eat Every Day (In Pictures)

Sugar Experiment Thumb

I was speechless.

Look, I’d heard all the typical media garbage about “all this sugar infiltrating our food” but I never realized just how bad it really was.

That is, I didn’t realize how bad it was until I decided to go ballistic and do a home experiment to see – visually – how much sugar is in the stuff we eat on a daily basis.

You might find it a bit surprising too.

I decided to take two dozen things – a dozen typical, surprising sugar-laden things, and a dozen things I had no idea had lots of sugar in them.

The Surprising Sugar Experiment – How Much Sugar Really Is in Your Food?


The first thing I was curious about was simple:

How much sugar is really in my food?

And the second question was a bit more interesting:

How much sugar is in food that it’s not normally supposed to be in?

I first started with something obvious: breakfast cereals.

First Up: How Much Sugar is Really in Breakfast Cereals?


The first thing I wanted to find out was how much sugar was in breakfast cereals that I used to eat as a kid.

Who doesn’t like Frosted Flakes?

A major reason here is that a Yale article mentioned that advertising spending geared at young kids has actually increased, and went up 34% between 2008 and 2011 alone.

So I did a little test.

First up? My childhood favorite: Frosted Flakes.

Frosted Flakes

Now, going in to this experiment, I knew that Frosted Flakes had a ton of sugar, I mean, that’s why every kid likes them (including myself).

But I was curious about two things:

1. How much sugar is really in it?

2. How big is a serving (that they list “per serving”) compared to what I actually eat in a bowl of cereal?

Here’s what I found.

Frosted Flakes Sugar Content

Yaaaaay frosted flakes!

This is their serving size – not an actual serving in a bowl of cereal (which is more than 2x that for my average bowl of cereal size).

Flakes 2 Flakes 3

Here’s what they listed as a serving size (for most breakfast cereals, it’s either 1 cup or 3/4 cup):

Frosted Flakes in Bowl

But, one serving isn’t an actual bowl full of cereal for an adult.

So my brother and I (I’m a 170 pound 6′ 2″ guy, he’s about 10 lbs heavier) poured what we considered a normal bowl of cereal into the bowl, then measured it.

It came out to just over two cups, but we’ll say two cups to keep it simple (in a small cereal bowl).

Here’s what that actually looks like in our breakfast:

Frosted Flakes Actual Bowl Sugar Content

Yup, 12 sugar cubes! Which should work out to around 24 grams of sugar.

And assuming we eat this for breakfast, that’s the sugar content before even getting to snacks, other meals, soda, or having something sweet throughout the day.

How Much Sugar is In Fruit Loops?

Fruit Loops Sugar Content

For the fruit loops, we cut right to the chase and did the same thing.

Here’s what that actually looks like in our breakfast:

Fruit Loops Actual Bowl Sugar Content

How much Sugar is in Cocoa Krispies?

Cocoa Krispies Sugar Content

We did the same with Cocoa Krispies, and this time cut right to the chase by filling a normal bowl of cereal, measuring it out, then matching up the sugar to how much it really was.

Here’s what that actually looks like in our breakfast:

Cocoa Krispies Actual Bowl Sugar Content

Cocoa Krispies Sugar

How Much Sugar Is In Lucky Charms Cereal?

Ahh Lucky Charms, I used to obsess over picking out the marshmallows, and was always pissed off that there were so few.

Rumor, or shall I saw rumour, has it that General Mills is offering boxes of marshmallow-only cereal.

Life complete.

Lucky Charms Sugar Content

Wheeee, they’re magically diabetic!

Here’s how they stack up sugar-wise (for their 1-serving size – which isn’t an actual cereal bowl full):

Lucky charms sugar

Here’s what that actually looks like in our breakfast (measured out to our normal cereal-bowl size of cereal):

Lucky charms actual bowl sugar content

How Much Sugar is in Honey Nut Cheerios?

Honey Nut Cheerios Sugar Content

Honey nut cheerios is pretty well-known for marketing themselves as a healthier company for breakfast cereals (and we did find that normal Honey Nut Cheerios were pretty low in sugar).

But come on… can help lower cholesterol?

You know what else can help me lower my cholesterol? Not being an idiot and stuffing my face with Lucky Charms (sorry guys).

Here’s their “serving size” of cheerios:

Honey nut cheerios in bowl

Here’s how much sugar is in their serving size:

Cheerios sugar Cheerios Sugar 2

Here’s them compared to my actual serving size:

Honey Nut Cheerios Actual Bowl Sugar Content

How Much Sugar is Really in Your Soda?

Everyone knows that soda has a lot of sugar in it.

Personally, I never realized that it actually had this much sugar.

Throughout this entire experiment with figuring out how much sugar was actually in things, I was surprised to find that soda actually had the most sugar of anything I could find in the market. Even more than candy.

And the problem with soda is that since it’s a liquid (and really has no fiber), it goes down much easier than just trying to each this much sugar in something solid like cookies or candy.

How Much Sugar Is in Coke & Coca Cola?


Coke SUgar Content

How Much Sugar is Really in Pepsi?


Here’s what the pepsi sugar content looks like, visually:

Pepsi Sugar Content

How Much Sugar is Really in Sprite?


By now, you’re probably spotting a trend: most soft drinks have predictable amounts of sugar in them – around 60-70 grams of sugar, which works out to 30-35 sugar cubes, per drink.

When you think about directly eating that many sugar cubes, now it makes sense why drinking soda is so addictive.

Sprite Sugar Content

How Much Sugar is Really in Mountain Dew?

Mountain Dew

The queezy-tasting Mountain Dew used to be my favorite as a kid.

These days, it’s the winner for the soft drink with the most sugar in it out of any of the soft drinks we ended up finding.

Mountain Dew Sugar Content

How Much Sugar is Really In Redbull & Energy Drinks?

As someone who doesn’t drink energy drinks (I’ve never had Monster in my life), I always assumed they were just loaded with caffeine, a bit of sugar, and some vitamins.

But here’s what a standard-size redbull that I bought at a convenience store has as far as sugar goes:Redbull Sugar Content

How Much Sugar is Really in Monster?

Monster Sugar Content

Monster ended up having 26 sugar cubes worth of sugar in the drink.

How Much Sugar is Really in Snapple?

Snapple was a bit surprising to me, I guess because it’s marketed as being from the “best stuff on earth,” but also because the front of the bottle is always stamped with “all natural.”

Well, I guess technically sugar is all natural, but I would count this as deceptive advertising.

Snapple Sugar Content

In the Snapple bottle, there was 24 sugar cubes worth of sugar.

(And yes, there’s added sugar in Snapple, beyond whatever little fruit juice or tea there actually is).

How Much Sugar Is In My Favorite Childhood Candies?

Candy obviously is basically entirely sugar, but some of these candies had so much sugar that if we laid them side by side, they’d literally be the same size.

… Which makes you wonder, where do they fit the gram crackers, wafer, and other stuff?

How Much Sugar Is In Snickers?

Snickers with sugar

The snickers bar worked out to be 14 sugar cubes.

How Much Sugar Is In Milky Way Bars?

Milk way with sugar 2

The Milky Way bars turned out to be 15 sugar cubes.

How Much Sugar Is In Three Musketeers?

Three muskateers with sugar

Of all the candy bars we tested, the “3 musketeers” was the worst, with 18 sugar cubes.

How Much Sugar Is In Peanut M & Ms?

M and Ms with sugar

For one serving of the peanut M & Ms, it came out to be 11 sugar cubes, surprisingly high for a small handful (where are the peanuts, then?).

How Much Sugar Is In Twix Bars?

Twix with sugar

This was a larger Twix packet, so we decided to just use two of the bars.

The two bars come out to 11 sugar cubes worth of sugar.

How Much Sugar Is In Starbucks, Pastries and some Doughtnuts?

Well, the next stop was my local Starbucks, since I rarely see anything as sugared up as the teenage girls drinking vanilla frappuccinos.

Here’s what I found there too.

How Much Sugar Is In Starbucks’ Vanilla Frappuccino?

Hailed by teenage, young white girls as “omg, like delicious!” all across the land, the Starbucks vanilla frappucino is basically ice cream (and is delicious).

In case you were wondering, yes it’s about the calories of some lunch meals, and there’s around 30 (!) sugar cubes worth of sugar in it.


Here’s what that looks like.

Each one of those stacks (there are four) is at least five sugar cubes.

Starbucks Frappucino Sugar

Starbucks Coffee Cake – How Much Sugar?

Coffee Cake

Starbucks Coffee Cake

How Much Sugar is in Random Things It Shouldn’t Be In?

This little home experiment taught me something else that’s extremely interesting: sugar is literally added to almost anything to make it taste better, ranging from crackers to breads, to already sweet fruit juices, and everything in between (like Bacon).

This surprised me quite a lot, but it also doesn’t surprise me because of how much sugar changes the flavor of things.

Here’s what I found.

A Random Store-Brand 12 Grain Bread – Here’s How Much Sugar

Bread with sugar

Two slices of this “healthy, 12-grain” bread has three cubes of sugar.

In this case, when I read the label, it was added sugar from high fructose corn syrup.

Thomas English Muffins – Here’s How Much Sugar is in It

English Muffins with sugar

My two breakfast muffins had the equivalent of one sugar cube in them.

Tomato Sauce – Here’s How Much Sugar is in It

Tomato sauce with sugar

This one was particularly interesting. Store brand tomato sauce had seven (7!) sugar cubes worth of sugar in it. (And yes, it’s often added sugar, just like in bread).

Ritz Crackers – How Much Sugar is in It?

Ritz with sugar

My childhood favorite Ritz crackers – the deadly duo of sugar and salt – had around one sugar cube per serving size.

Ritz Bitz – How Much Sugar is In It?

Ritz Bitz with sugar

Ritz bitz, my even-more-favorite childhood snack worked out to two sugar cubes per serving size.

What to Take Away Here

There were some things that surprised me a lot here.

First – Just how much sugar is really in soda. We all know that soda is “virtually just liquid sugar,” but it wasn’t until I saw how many sugar cubes it took us (and the fact that we could’ve built a sand castle with them), that it really stuck with me.

Second – The foods that have sugar that I didn’t expect to have sugar. For example, bread, tomato sauce, and just normal crackers I would snack on.

Third – That sugar is in virtually everything. Pizza sauce, crackers, bread, bacon (like brown sugar), and many other things.

The Takeaways

Tiny Habit for Today Thumb

I don’t expect you to quit sugar, and I don’t expect to quit sugar any time soon.

Having said that, sometimes we just need to see something from a different perspective before things can really “click” and change our habits for the better.

I did another food experiment right here on the truth behind calories to show people that “what” they ate was as important (or more important) than “how much.”

If you focus on more of the right “what,” it’s actually pretty hard to overeat.

What are your thoughts on this?

Share below.


Images: Dougnuts – freedigitalphotos.net; All other images copyright @ 2016 Alexander Heyne.



Have You Read My New Book Yet?

Read more about this in my book Master The Day. You’ll learn the nine daily success habits I learned interviewing people that lost 100+ pounds and kept it off in a healthy way – by changing their habits. Plus, you’ll get a free $100 video course if you show me your receipt.

Have You Read My New Book Yet?

  Read more about this in my book Master The Day. You’ll learn the nine daily success habits I learned interviewing people that lost 100+ pounds and kept it off in a healthy way – by changing their habits. Plus, you’ll get a free $100 bonus video course if you show me your receipt. You can get the audiobook here too.

6 comments… add one

  1. Such a unique way of looking at it. Sets a new perspective for food.

    1. Thanks Wes! Yeah totally, I try demonstrating things in a new way when possible – since everyone “already knows” sugar is bad.

  2. I am showing this to my husband – “Mr. Moutain Dew” himself! :) It is a bit discouraging to see how difficult it is to stay away from too much sugar. I guess the lesson is: The cleaner, the better! when it comes to eating. Thanks, Alex!

    1. Hey Megan,

      Hah, crazy right?? I had no idea until I really took time to do this. And yes, that’s spot on!

  3. Alex,
    Thank you for the visual. So powerful to actually see and be able to compare. Don’t really partake of any of those thing except an occasional Starbucks, but the pictures confirm my decision! Thanks!

    1. Hey Chico,

      Yeah I found it really helpful for me to actually try and present (in a different way) just how much sugar is really in our food. Glad it helped :-)


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