How many carbs are in a cup of white sugar?

Quick Answer

There are approximately 198 grams of total carbohydrates in 1 cup (200 grams) of white sugar. All of the carbohydrates in white sugar are sugars.

Detailed Answer

White sugar, also known as table sugar or granulated sugar, is a common type of sugar used in baking and cooking. It comes from sugarcane or sugar beets and is processed to remove impurities and color.

The main components of white sugar are sucrose, fructose, and glucose. Sucrose is a disaccharide made up of one glucose molecule and one fructose molecule bonded together.

Here is a breakdown of the nutrition facts for 1 cup (200 grams) of white sugar (1):

Nutrient Amount
Calories 764
Total Carbohydrates 198 grams
Sugars 198 grams
Protein 0 grams
Fat 0 grams

As you can see, 1 cup of white sugar contains 198 grams of total carbohydrates, all of which comes from sugars. There are no other carbohydrates like fiber or starch in white sugar.

To convert this to a household measurement, there are 48 teaspoons in 1 cup of white sugar (2). Since there are 198 grams of carbohydrates in 1 cup, there are about 4.1 grams of carbohydrates in 1 teaspoon of white sugar.

So in summary:

– 1 cup (200 grams) of white sugar contains 198 grams of total carbohydrates
– All of the carbohydrates in white sugar are sugars (sucrose, glucose, fructose)
– There are no fiber, starch or other carbohydrates in white sugar
– 1 teaspoon of white sugar has about 4 grams of total carbohydrates

Carbohydrate Types

Carbohydrates are one of the three main macronutrients, along with protein and fat, that provide energy to the body. The main types of carbohydrates are:

– Sugar: Includes sugars like sucrose, glucose, fructose and lactose. Found in fruits, dairy, sweets.

– Starch: Long chains of glucose molecules. Found in grains, vegetables, legumes.

– Fiber: Indigestible carbohydrates like cellulose, inulin, lignin. Found in plant foods.

– Sugar alcohols: Sweeteners like xylitol, sorbitol, erythritol. Found in some fruits and used as sweeteners.

White sugar contains only simple sugars like sucrose, glucose and fructose. It does not contain any complex carbohydrates like starch or fiber.

Sugar Composition

White sugar is nearly pure sucrose, which is a disaccharide composed of one glucose and one fructose molecule bonded together.

Here is a breakdown of the sugar composition of white sugar (1):

– Sucrose: 97-100%
– Glucose and fructose: 0-3%

So the majority of the carbohydrates in white sugar take the form of sucrose. There is a very small amount of free fructose and glucose as well.

Carbohydrate Digestion

When you eat carbohydrates, your body has to break them down into their simple sugar forms before they can be absorbed.

The digestion process depends on the type of carbohydrate:

– Sucrose: Broken down into glucose and fructose by sucrase enzymes in the small intestine.

– Starch: Broken down into glucose by amylase enzymes in the mouth, stomach and small intestine.

– Fiber: Not broken down, but fermented by gut bacteria in the large intestine.

– Sugar alcohols: Broken down slowly and incompletely by gut bacteria.

Since white sugar is nearly pure sucrose, it can be quickly broken down by sucrase enzymes into glucose and fructose, which are then absorbed through the small intestinal wall into the bloodstream.

The glucose causes a rapid rise in blood sugar levels. Excess glucose is stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen or converted to fat.

Glycemic Index

The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly foods raise blood sugar levels. It ranges from 0 to 100, with pure glucose having a GI of 100.

The glycemic index of white sugar is 65, which is considered a high GI food (3). This means it causes a rapid spike in blood glucose compared to low glycemic foods like beans or oats.

Foods high on the glycemic index like white sugar tend to promote:

– Rapid rise and fall of blood sugar levels
– Increased hunger and food intake
– Increased insulin production
– Increased risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes

Therefore, white sugar provides a quick source of energy, but does not provide lasting satiety. This can lead to unstable blood sugar control.

Carbohydrate Metabolism

Once the glucose and fructose from white sugar enter the bloodstream, the hormone insulin is secreted by the pancreas. This signals cells throughout the body to take up the glucose for energy production.

If glucose levels exceed the immediate energy needs, the excess is converted to glycogen by the liver and muscles. Glycogen is stored glucose that can be tapped into later for energy.

Here is an overview of what happens to the carbohydrates from white sugar during metabolism in the body:

– Glucose: Absorbed into bloodstream, raises blood sugar. Used for energy or stored as glycogen. Excess converted to fat.

– Fructose: Absorbed into bloodstream, metabolized by liver. Used for energy, converted to glycogen or fat.

– Glycogen: Stored in liver and muscles. Can be broken down to release glucose.

– Fat (adipose tissue): Excess glucose is converted to fat for long-term storage. Stored in fat cells throughout the body.

Carbohydrate Recommendations

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that 45-65% of daily calories come from carbohydrates for a healthy diet (4).

However, not all carbohydrates are created equal. The quality of carbohydrates matters.

It is recommended to focus on getting carbohydrates from:

– Vegetables
– Fruits
– Whole grains
– Legumes
– Dairy

And limit added sugars like white sugar. Added sugars should comprise no more than 10% of daily calories. For a 2,000 calorie diet that is about 50 grams of added sugars per day.

White sugar offers carbohydrates but very little other nutritional value. It can lead to unstable blood sugar levels when consumed in excess.

Uses for White Sugar

Here are some of the main uses for white granulated sugar:

– Baking: One of the most common uses, helps provide sweet flavor and tender texture in baked goods like cookies, cakes, muffins.

– Sweetening Beverages: Commonly used to sweeten coffee, tea, cocktails, lemonade and other drinks.

– Preserving: Used in jams, jellies, canned fruits to help prevent spoilage through its preservative effects.

– Canning: Used in canning fruits and tomatoes to maintain texture and flavor.

– Confections: Major ingredient in candy, chocolate, ice cream, frozen treats to provide sweetness.

– Glazing and decorating: Often used to make glazes and frostings for cakes, cookies and other desserts.

– Fermenting: Sugar is consumed by yeast during the fermentation process in making beer, wine, bread.

So in summary, the main use of white sugar is as a sweetener in foods and beverages. It also provides important functional properties in baking, preserving and fermenting foods.


To conclude, 1 cup of white sugar contains approximately 198 grams of total carbohydrates, all in the form of sugars like sucrose, glucose and fructose.

White sugar is rapidly digested and has a high glycemic index, causing quick spikes in blood sugar. The glucose from sugar can be used for energy or converted to fat for storage.

While white sugar can provide a concentrated source of carbohydrates and energy, it is recommended to consume it in moderation due to potential impacts on blood sugar control and nutritional quality of the diet. Focusing on getting carbohydrates from whole food sources like fruits, vegetables and whole grains is ideal for health.

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