In Categories: Practical Tips

Sugar is a master of disguise: just because you don’t see “sugar” on the ingredient list when scanning a nutrition label does not guarantee the item is sugar or sweetener-free. Sugar goes by a slew of different names, making it easy for manufacturers to hide how much sugar is truly in a given product. A whopping 56 different names! While some of these names are more obvious, like brown and cane sugar, others are trickier to spot (e.g., Maltodextrin and dextrose).

Shockingly, over 68% of barcoded food products sold in the US contain added sweeteners — even if they are labeled as “natural” or “healthy.”1 The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires that all packaged food and beverage nutrition labels display the sugar content per serving. However, most manufacturers have until January 1, 2020 to display if a product includes added sugars.2

The best way to ensure you’re not consuming excess added sugars is to get in the habit of always scanning the ingredient list below before you throw the item in your cart. Keep in mind that ingredients are listed by quantity from high to low: the closer to the front of the list a form of sugar is, the more the product contains.*

Feeling overwhelmed? Use this list of sugar names below to help you avoid a head rush when you shop!

The Most Common Names for Sugar

(Excluding artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes)

Basic Simple Sugars (monosaccharides and disaccharides):

  1. Dextrose
  2. Fructose
  3. Galactose
  4. Glucose
  5. Lactose
  6. Maltose
  7. Sucrose

Solid or Granulated Sugars:

  1. Beet sugar
  2. Brown sugar
  3. Cane juice crystals
  4. Cane sugar
  5. Castor sugar
  6. Coconut sugar
  7. Confectioner’s sugar (aka, powdered sugar)
  8. Corn syrup solids
  9. Crystalline fructose
  10. Date sugar
  11. Demerara sugar
  12. Dextrin
  13. Diastatic malt
  14. Ethyl maltol
  15. Florida crystals
  16. Golden sugar
  17. Glucose syrup solids
  18. Grape sugar
  19. Icing sugar
  20. Maltodextrin
  21. Muscovado sugar
  22. Panela sugar
  23. Raw sugar
  24. Sugar (granulated or table)
  25. Sucanat
  26. Turbinado sugar
  27. Yellow sugar

Liquid or Syrup Sugars:

  1. Agave Nectar/Syrup
  2. Barley malt
  3. Blackstrap molasses
  4. Brown rice syrup
  5. Buttered sugar/buttercream
  6. Caramel
  7. Carob syrup
  8. Corn syrup
  9. Evaporated cane juice
  10. Fruit juice
  11. Fruit juice concentrate
  12. Golden syrup
  13. High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
  14. Honey
  15. Invert sugar
  16. Malt syrup
  17. Maple syrup
  18. Molasses
  19. Rice syrup
  20. Refiner’s syrup
  21. Sorghum syrup
  22. Treacle

*Note: If you spot any of these names listed on a label, keep in mind it’s not automatically a no-go. It’s the amount of sugar that counts!  If the total carbohydrate count is 1-2 grams, it’s still fine to have if you’re following a low carb lifestyle. For example, many keto-friendly salad dressings include a pinch of sugar with 1-2 grams total carbs — these are still suitable to consume.



  1. Think there’s one more!

    57. Trehalose.
    That’s a real baddie.


  2. Hello
    I want to ask if glycerin and propylene glycol are sugars too?
    Thanks so much.


    1. Virta Health

      Thanks for your question! We excluded artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes (including sugar alcohols) from this post.


      1. So many hidden sugars to avoid insulin spikes thank you for the details.

        I am choosing a ketogenic diet and thankfully managing to avoid sugars by eating whole foods. I found Dr Berg’s information on sugar alcohols very helpful also for when I might like to make a non grain treat.


  3. Jacqueline Glasgow December 4, 2018 at 10:36 am

    Would that be 1-2 grams in a 100g or a serving size.


    1. Virta Health

      That would be in a serving size, which is typically 2 tbsp


  4. Are sweet fruits considered sugar?


    1. Virta Health

      Hi! Great question! In this context, if you read a label and it has any type of fruit or fruit juice listed, this would be considered added sugar. In a well formulated ketogenic diet, our patients are encouraged to choose fruits like berries that are lower in carbs and to avoid fruit juice or foods sweetened by fruit juice.


  5. You might also consider adding STARCH which is simply a ring of loosely connected glucose molecules. Just because it is a glucose ring does not make it a home free name.


  6. Your reasoning is flawed that it is ok to have these in small amounts. So e you should never have because of how it affects your glucose. Maltitol is never ok,along with the entire list of liquid sweeteners. There are only a few on this list that are acceptable.


  7. Wolfram Alderson February 6, 2019 at 6:14 am

    I would have credited Dr. Robert Lustig for first publishing “56 Names for Sugar” back in 2013 (still available on

    A current project I’m working on with Dr. Lustig has identified several hundred names for sugar. Here is a list of 247:


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