Nutrition,  Weight Loss

How Much Sugar is in your “Healthy” Fast Foods


The Sugar Shocker….

It is always eye opening at the amount of sugar hidden in foods. I think we all assume when we purchase an ice cream cone or cookie that we are signing ourselves up for a decent dosage of sugar. What I always find shocking is the sugars that are hidden in foods we assume are healthy…or at least healthier!

You have probably heard me say this time and time again, but the recommended amount of added sugar for woman is 6 tsp/day and men is 9 tsp per day.  The average Canadian consumes about 22 tsp of added sugar per day.  Last week’s blog post on sugar’s detrimental effect on heart health, regardless of patient’s weight. We know that sugar is bad for us…but do we know where it is hiding!!


The Top 5 “Healthy” Foods that are Loaded with Sugar


  1. Starbucks Chai Tea Latte

We all know that frappuccinos, and whip cream are high in sugar…but there is something about “tea” that makes you think it is healthy! How can a chai tea latte be that bad!!

Well, topping at 42g (10tsp) of sugar in a grande, that is more sugar than a snickers bar! If that isn’t bad enough, the Iced Chai from Williams has 79g of sugar!

To lighten your load – ask for a regular chai tea, and a little bit of steamed coconut milk (yes some are now offering it) on top. If you must sweeten, bring some stevia along or use some of the honey they provide.


  1. Yogurt Smoothies and Parfait

Protein shakes are healthy right? How could protein powder, yogurt and fruit be bad!

Let me show you…

Williams yogurt smoothies range from 26-63g of sugar per smoothie

The worst offender is the Strawberry Banana at 63g, which does have some banana in it which would be about 30g of sugar or so. Even still, that is 33g of added sugar, which is almost 8tsp.


Better options in Waterloo are independent shops. Thrive Juice Bar in uptown Waterloo, Fiddleheads or Goodness Me will provide healthier shake options (often for less money). Buyer beware though…some of these places will put ice cream in certain shakes so ask for the menu before ordering.  And remember, choose smoothies without fruit juice, as juice is straight sugar for your body.


  1. The Muffin

This one still blows my mind. Whenever I do a lunch and learn on sugar, I always expose the muffin, as it is a shocker every time.

What would you assume has more sugar?

Tim Hortons Honey Dip Doughnut

Tim Hortons Lemon Poppyseed Muffin

90% of people always choose the doughnut.

The doughnut actually has 11g, while the muffin has 26. Now the muffin does have slightly more fibre, but certainly not enough to compensate for all of that added sugar!! With only 2.5g of sugar in a whole lemon, we certainly can’t blame that either.

My advice, unless you are making a muffin at home and you know what is in it…assume it has a whack of sugar and is no better for you than the cookie or doughnut.  If you are on the go, try to find some independent places that pride themselves in healthier baking. The Healthy Owl is a gem in Waterloo (davenport and northfield) that puts a lot of love, care and nutrition into their baking


  1. Salads

You make the “healthy” choice and opt out for the salad instead of the burger and in some cases it still ends up being more calories and sugar than just eating the burger.

I often find that Wendy’s is a place that people often stop for salads. For some reason there is a perception that they are healthier than the other fast food chains.

After looking at all of the Wendy’s salads there is anywhere between 4-7tsp of added sugar in all of their salads. Remembering that 6tsp is your daily goal amount, this is a lot for a supposedly healthy option. The added sugar comes from the dressing and depending on the salad there can be sugar added to the meat or meat sauce.

A better option is to stop at Zehrs and grab a chicken salad. They offer renee’s dressing, and if you opt for the balsamic, greek or mediterranean greek they have 0-2g of sugar.

In any case, you always want to stay away from creamy dressings as they will usually have a ton of calories.  You also want to avoid the sugary dressings like raspberry vinaigrette, asian dressing, honey dijon or poppyseed.


5 Oatmeal

So good for you right?? We have been trained that this is a better breakfast option  High in fibre, lowers cholesterol, and  usually has the heart healthy stamp. If you are in the line up at McDonald’s surely this is a better option than an egg mcmuffin.

The Fruit and Oatmeal with brown sugar at McDonald’s will rack up 7.5 tsp of sugar while without the brown sugar will be about 4tsp. The other problem with this breakfast is that there is very little protein and a lot of carbohydrates which is going to leave you feeling very hungry and wanting to snack on more carbohydrates throughout the day.

My advice – if you must you would be better off with a egg mcmuffin as it provides only 3g of sugar and 17g of protein. This must be an occasional though as along with some other debates on McDonalds the sodium in these foods is high. An egg mcmuffin provides 750g which is half of your recommended daily amount.

Better yet – make yourself a protein shake at home for breakfast. It will take you the same amount of time as going through the drive-through, cost you less and leave feel energized and fuelled all day long!!  We have a new paleo protein made from beef. It has the same smooth taste as whey with all of the benefits for those that are whey sensitive.


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