How Many Net Carbs Are in a Teaspoon of Sugar?

How many net carbs are in a teaspoon of sugar? This question often comes up when new patients browse our recipes and find portions measured by teaspoons of sugar rather than grams of carbohydrates.

The conversion from teaspoons of sugar to grams of carbohydrates is simple:

One teaspoon of sugar is equal to five net grams of carbohydrates (net carbohydrates equals total carbohydrates minus fiber).

We ask patients in our 12-Week weight loss program to limit sugar consumption to 5-6 teaspoons per day, equal to 25-30 net grams of carbohydrates. This is about 50-60% of the maximum daily sugar consumption many nutritionists recommend for a healthy adult.

Why do you measure teaspoons of sugar instead of carbohydrates or calories?

The next question that naturally comes up is why do we choose to measure portions by teaspoons of sugar? Why don’t we count grams of carbohydrates, glycemic scores, or calories instead?

...all carbohydrates convert to sugar in the body. So we start by measuring sugar, right off the bat.

What’s most important for weight loss and wellness is not how many calories we consume, but how many of those calories are sugar. And all carbohydrates convert to sugar in the body. So we start by measuring sugar, right off the bat.

America is gripped by sugar addiction

We’re in the midst of a sugar addiction and an obesity epidemic, and the two are directly related.

Take these facts:

  • The human body needs .5-1 tsp of sugar per day to survive.
  • Two hundred years ago, the average American ate only 2 pounds of sugar a year.
  • In 1970, we ate 123 pounds of sugar per year.
  • Today, the average American consumes almost 152 pounds of sugar in one year.
  • This is equal to 3 pounds (or 6 cups) of sugar consumed in one week!

All this extra sugar is building up, causing inflammation, obesity, and other serious diseases. (1)

We need to cut out the excess sugar, which starts with bringing awareness to it in all its forms.

Some sugar is obvious, like sugar you add to your coffee, the sugar in your soft drink, or the sugar on top of a powdered donut. However, just as often, sugar is less easy to detect.

Sometimes sugar is “hiding in plain sight” behind another name. For example, glucose, sucrose, fructose, lactose, dextrose, corn syrup, honey, molasses, etc. they’re all forms of sugar.

In the end, carbs = sugar

Meanwhile, other items are relatively low in sugar but loaded with simple carbohydrates that convert to sugar in our bodies. For example, a medium-sized plain bagel contains a relatively low 6 grams of sugar. But this same bagel also has about 56 grams of carbohydrates and 3 grams of fiber. (2)

We can use the formula above for measuring how many net carbs are in a teaspoon of sugar to measure the actual sugar content of that bagel:

56 g total carbs - 3 g fiber = 53 net carbs

53 net carbs / 5 = 10.6 teaspoon sugar

In the body, this one bagel converts to 10.6 teaspoons of sugar! That’s more than the daily sugar allotment for our 12-Week weight loss patients and nearly equal to the maximum daily recommendation for everyone else. On top of that, a plain bagel contains virtually no protein and very little fat. Eating a bagel by itself is likely to cause an unhealthy insulin spike.

Healthy nutrition is the foundation of wellness

Over the past 10+ years, my team and I have had the privilege of helping thousands of people on their weight loss and wellness journeys. We’ve paid particularly close attention to nutrition along the way, continually refining our food tables, nutrition guidelines, recipes, and sample meal plans.

One of the first things you receive in our 12-Week weight loss program is a patient booklet full of information and inspiration for your journey. Included in your booklet are the four dozen meat and seafood items we’ve approved for our weight loss patients, vegetarian protein options, over three dozen approved low-sugar vegetables, and our seventeen approved fruits. Serving size and sugar teaspoons are included for each item.

Schedule your complimentary consultation with a weight loss specialist in Palm Harbor or St. Pete today. We’ll discuss your story so far and your goals moving forward and answer all of your questions about our weight loss programs and nutrition plans.

“This is the first program that I have been on where I feel satisfied and feel that I can eat a wide range of foods.” ~Christine B.

“My husband’s health has dramatically improved as well with our change in nutrition. I wish I had seen Dr. Lara sooner!” ~Nancy D.

“In less than a month, I have been able to get off insulin and an oral diabetes medication and lost over 10 lbs! I’m so motivated for my journey and know I’m finally on the right track! Thank you Dr. Lara!!” ~Shelly S.

“Dr. Lara’s program is totally doable. It teaches you the importance of eating healthy and empowers you to make healthy choices.” ~Amber L.

“I love Dr. Lara’s approach not just for the weight management, but for the concept of dealing with health problems BEFORE they happen.” ~Bart C.


  1. Too Much Added Sugar Is Linked to Inflammation
  2. Are Bagels Healthy?