What’s the Big Deal with Sugar?
Most of us know that sugar isn’t good for us, but it is really all that bad? The short answer: absolutely yes. In this article, we’re going to talk about why.
First, sugar is an “empty” calorie, meaning it provides no nutrients. It is also rapidly absorbed, quickly increases our blood sugar (called glucose), and in turn increases our insulin levels. Insulin is a fat-storing hormone that is needed for our body to convert the food we eat into energy we burn or fat we store. So, the higher your blood sugars, the higher your insulin, the more fat you are storing.
Sugar also wreaks havoc on our livers, which are responsible for regulating cholesterol in our bodies. People who eat more sugar tend to have lower “good” cholesterol (called HLD) and higher triglycerides (molecules made of fat and sugar), both of which increase our risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
So how much sugar is a safe amount of sugar?
The rule of thumb here is that less sugar is always going to be healthier, but here are some numbers to help guide you. The daily recommended amount by the American Heart Association is:
- For women: No more than 25 grams (or 6 teaspoons) of sugar a day
- For men: No more than 36 grams (or 9 teaspoons) of sugar a day
Grams are confusing, so I encourage you to think of sugar in teaspoons. There is a simple way to calculate this: 4 grams = 1 teaspoon of sugar. This means that on a nutrition label, look at the grams of sugar and divide by 4. This will give you the number of teaspoons of sugar per serving. For example, a 12-ounce can of soda has 40 grams of sugar, which equals a whopping 10 teaspoons in one can! That’s more than your entire recommended sugar intake for the whole day in one can. If you are serious about losing weight and getting healthier, start by cutting out sodas and other sugary drinks from your diet.
What about sugars in fruits?
Sugars in fruits are definitely healthier than added sugars in processed foods. This is because the sugar in fruit is bound up with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. However, while fruit is a healthier choice than a candy bar, you should still be mindful of overall sugar content and portion size. Some fruits (like mango, banana, and grapes) are very high in sugar, while others (like strawberries, blue berries, and raspberries) are much lower. I’d encourage you to eat lower-sugar fruits and in moderation.
Becoming More Mindful of Sugars
Overall, the first step is to become aware of all the sugars in your diet. Always read your nutrition labels. You be surprised how many processed foods have hidden sugar in them! Slowly work to decrease your sugar intake and find healthier alternatives that you enjoy. Your taste buds will start to shift to prefer less-sweet foods as you eat less sweets. Keep this in mind for your kids too!
Work towards becoming a happier, healthier you by decreasing your sugar intake. Is it a sneaky ingredient that will sabotages your weight loss efforts. It’s something that tastes good to virtually all of us and is not healthy for any of us.