How to convert grams of sugars into teaspoons

Learn how to accurately interpret the nutrition facts on a food product by converting grams into more familiar household measurements.

Spoon of sugar. Photo via Creative Commons license via Wikimedia user APN MJM

Spoon of sugar. Photo via Creative Commons license via Wikimedia user APN MJM

The Nutrition Facts label on food products lists key nutrients, serving size and calorie information based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Consumers can easily use the nutrition information, which is specific to one serving size, to help guide their daily food choices.

Carbohydrates, a key nutrient, are listed on the nutrition facts. Sugars, both naturally occurring sugar and added sugar, are carbohydrates and are listed under total carbohydrates, along with dietary fiber. Naturally occurring sugars include fructose found in fruits as well as lactose found in milk and milk products. Added sugars would include white sugar, brown sugar, honey, corn syrup, fructose and dextrose.

As you look at the amount of sugar or various sugars in one serving size, it may be challenging to interpret grams, a metric measurement of weight, as most households the common measurement is teaspoons. Teaspoons is a measurement of volume, not weight; learning how to convert grams into teaspoons can be a helpful tool in determining how much sugar you are consuming throughout the day.

If you look at the nutrition facts on a package of white sugar or brown sugar, the serving size is one teaspoon. Sliding down the label to the total carbohydrates it reads sugars “4g,” or “4 grams.” This important bit of information is your key to converting grams into teaspoons. Four grams of sugar is equal to one teaspoon. To be precise, 4.2 grams equals a teaspoon, but the nutrition facts round it to four grams.


 Sugars: 4 grams equals 1 teaspoon


Using this equation you can easily look at the grams per serving for any food product containing sugars and converts this quantity into a familiar measurement of teaspoons; simply divide the grams by four. Michigan State University Extension finds that this conversion helps visualize how many teaspoons of sugar are actually being consumed or drank and helps guide overall food choices and serving sizes.

Here is an example of barbeque sauce:

Serving Size 2 Tablespoons

Calories 70

Sugars 16 g (grams)


16 grams divided by 4 = 4 teaspoons of sugars per serving

If you eat one serving, or two tablespoons of barbeque sauce, you would have consumed four teaspoons of sugars and 70 calories. If you eat two servings, you must remember to double the amount (eight teaspoons and 140 calories).

The USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 recommends limiting added sugar in your daily diet. Since the majority of sugars in many American diets come from foods with added sugars, it is a healthy habit to begin to read the nutrition facts label more closely. Use the grams to teaspoon conversion to assist you in monitoring your overall daily intake of sugars. Be aware that beverages can be a major source of added sugars; found in high quantities in soda, energy drinks and sports drinks. Consider replacing sweetened foods and beverages with foods that have no, or are low in added sugar; this will lower your calorie content.

Grams and teaspoons of sugar may seem small and insignificant but they add up quickly. Arm yourself with the knowledge necessary to make 2013 a healthier year.

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