Sneaky Sources of Hidden Sugar

Sneaky Sources of Hidden SugarIf you’re trying to avoid carbs and added sugars, it’s a no-brainer that you need to avoid cake, candy, and cookies. But what about the sugar you can’t see in your food? There are many ways that manufacturers sneak sugar into food, whether it’s to enhance the taste or to increase the shelf life. If you’re a label reader, you might not even recognize that an ingredient is sugar because there are tons of different names for it! Here are some sneaky sources of hidden sugar you should know about.

Sneaky Sources of Hidden Sugar

A good rule to identify if something is sugar is to look for the ending “-ose” on ingredients:








Then look for any words that have “sugar”, “syrup”, “nectar”, “juice” or “crystals” added to them. That means it’s a sugar, too.

Of course, there are the natural sources of sugar that don’t follow those rules:





-Barley malt

And the tricky ones:



-Ethyl maltol




-Diastatic malt

What are some of the major sources of added sugar in foods that might not be obvious?

Sneaky sources of hidden sugar include:

Flavored yogurt

Check the label for added sugars but be aware that fruit preserves also add sugar (even though it’s natural, it’s still sugar). Your best bet is to look at how many grams of carbs there are per container. Aim for the lowest possible amount or go for plain yogurt instead! 

Protein, granola and energy bars

Yikes! Most of these are basically cookies hiding in bar form. Read the label and ask yourself if it’s really worth the sugar and calories.


Ketchup, teriyaki, salsa, mustard, most of these have added sugar. While you may not be eating a ton of it, it’s good to be aware and make a conscious decision about whether you want to add it to your daily carb limit.

Packaged and processed foods

Anything that needs to have an extended shelf life is going to contain added sugars and preservatives. Take a glance at the label. If the ingredient list is longer than your hand, there’s probably a better choice.


Cutting out all beverages like soda, fruit juice, sports drinks, energy drinks and yes, even kombucha, will help you reduce the amount of added sugars you consume. A good idea is to limit your consumption of non-water beverages to one or less per day. 

Now that you are armed with tricks to find those sneaky sugars, start reading labels! You will be shocked that so much sugar was hiding in plain sight! 

Written by: Leah K., Dietetic Intern

Reviewed/edited by: Ryann Kipping, RDN, CLEC