C’mon Def Leopard, go ahead and pour! Well, maybe not pour, but how about drizzle?
I’ve been learning a lot about excessive sugar and it’s gnarly effects. But does this mean live a sugar-less life?
Hell no! What’s the point of living if I can’t have sugar?!
I’m being dramatic…ok, but seriously, there has to be a way to walk the sugar walk without harming our bodies or gaining weight.
I went on a mission to find a healthy way to incorporate sugar into my diet and share it with you!
What is sugar?
Sugars are carbohydrates, composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen which our body quickly breaks down for energy.
Why are carbs important:
- They provide energy for muscles
- They provide fuel for the central nervous system
- They enable fat metabolism
- They prevent protein from being used as energy
We need carbs to have energy and proper brain function!
However, the type of sugar is very important because our body breaks down the molecules differently.
When you consume sugar, your body breaks it down into two basic components, glucose and fructose.
Glucose vs. Fructose
- The body’s preferred source of energy
- The body breaks down carbs to glucose and uses it for energy
- Also called blood sugar
- 80% of it is used by our cells and only 20% is stored as glycogen (energy) for later use
- 80% is absorbed by the intestines and 20% is processed by the liver
- Glucose releases hormones that tells your brain you’re full
- Naturally occurring in many plants
- Not the preferred source of energy and brain function
- Fructose is found in whole foods such as fruits and vegetables, and it can also be consumed in natural forms of added sugars such as honey, molasses, and maple syrup
- When fructose is combined with glucose, it forms sucrose and high fructose corn syrup
- Does not release the hormones that control appetite
- Converted into glycerol, and promotes fat formation
- 100% metabolized and processed by the liver, increasing toxic load
When Fructose is consumed moderately in the form of fruits and veggies, most people can break it down easily. It’s the added sugars that we need to watch out for!
All sugars are not created equal when it comes to the physical end results they create.
There are two types of sugars in American diets: naturally occurring sugars and added sugars.
Naturally occurring sugars are found naturally in foods such as fruit and milk.
Added sugars include any sugars or caloric sweeteners that are added to foods or beverages during processing or preparation (i.e. adding sugar in your coffee or cereal). Added sugars or sweeteners can include natural sugars such as white sugar, brown sugar, and honey as well as other caloric sweeteners that are chemically manufactured (i.e. high fructose corn syrup).
Let’s break down the added sugar/calorie situation:
Added sugars contribute additional calories and zero nutrients to food.
Why is this a big deal? We have a daily energy need — the amount of calories (or energy units) our body needs to function and provide energy for our activities. Anything over this daily energy is stored as fat. Oy!
You know what’s crazy? While we use carbohydrates for energy, our bodies actually don’t need to get any carbohydrate from added sugar. So you don’t need to reach for those sugar packets when you have your afternoon coffee. Try some coconut milk instead.
Let’s not poo-poo Calories. Calories are needed for normal body processes, but the big bummer is, you will gain weight when you eat more calories than you use up in daily activities and exercise.
The Healthy Eating Pyramid says sugary drinks and sweets should be used sparingly, if at all, and the Healthy Eating Plate does not include foods with added sugars. That’s sayin something!
Americans have steadily consumed more and more added sugars in their diets, which has contributed to the obesity epidemic.
The average American consumes 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day, which amounts to an extra 350 calories. And most added sugar comes from processed and prepared foods. Sugar-sweetened beverages and breakfast cereals are two of the most serious offenders.
Soft Drink are Bad News Bears!
Soft drinks are a prime source of extra calories that can contribute to weight gain and provide no nutritional benefits.
Soda is nasty stuff. I used to be a three-diet-coke-a-day chick, and let me tell you, I feel so much better since I quit that junk.
Some Trivia: Studies indicate that liquid carbs such as sodas, gatorade, and artificially sweetened fruit drinks are less filling than the solid carbs– causing you to continue to feel hungry after drinking them despite their high caloric value. They also contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic conditions. Forget about it! It’s not worth it.
Try reducing your soda intake, and if you must have one, don’t get diet soda! For the love of unicorns, avoid that diet crap.
Not-So-Fun Soda Facts:
- The average can of sugar-sweetened soda or fruit punch provides about 150 calories, almost all of them from sugar – usually high-fructose corn syrup. That’s the equivalent of 10 teaspoons of table sugar. Holy crap.
- If you were to drink just one can of a sugar-sweetened soft drink every day, and not cut back on calories elsewhere, you could gain 10-15 pounds in a year. No bueno.
Reducing the amount of added sugars you eat cuts calories and can help you improve your heart health and control your weight. #NoBrainer
Below is a table from the American Heart Association. You will see how many calories are present from added sugars!
The AHA recommends limiting the amount of added sugars you consume to no more than half of your daily discretionary calorie allowance. For most American women, this is no more than 100 calories per day and no more than 150 calories per day for men (or about 6 teaspoons per day for women and 9 teaspoons per day for men).
I know, I know, this talk of “calorie intake” can give you a headache, but let me ask you this:
- Are you trying to lose weight and your work-out videos aren’t making a dent on your waistline?
- Are you eating only one meal a day but you can’t seem to lose the extra pounds?
Guess what? You won’t lose the extra poundage if you are eating crap loads of sugar. Why is that?
Weight loss is about calories in and calories out.
The amount of calories you consume has to be equal with the amount of calories you expend. It’s the only way to lose weight!
So, if you’re sitting at a desk all day or you don’t exercise at all, and you drink soda and eat cookies every day, good luck with your project.
Ok, so what are examples of added sugar? I thought you’d never ask.
- If the product label has no fruit or milk products in the ingredients, all of the sugars in the food are from added sugars.
- If the product contains fruit or milk products, the total sugar per serving listed on the label will include added and naturally occurring sugars.
Unfortunately, you can’t isolate the calories per serving from added sugars with the information on a nutrition label. No worries! You can calculate the calories per serving from total sugars (added sugars and naturally occurring sugars).
Here’s what you do: multiply the grams of sugar by 4 (there are 4 calories per 1 gram of sugar). For example, a product containing 12 g of sugar has 48 calories from sugar per serving. Easy right?
Wanna talk about some ways to eat less added sugar?
- Remove sugar (white & brown), syrup, honey and molasses from the table — you’ll find that you really don’t need it.
- Cut back on the amount of sugar added to things you eat or drink regularly like cereal, waffles, and coffee. Try cutting the amount of sugar you add by half and wean down from there. Pinch a small amount of sugar with your fingers, and voila.
- Instead of cereals, try oatmeal.
- Start thinking of added sugary snacks as special treats, not every day foods.
- Buy sugar-free or low-calorie beverages. Look on the labels and read the ingredients. Look for no-sugar-added beverages.
- Buy fresh fruits or fruits canned in water or natural juice. Avoid fruit canned in syrup, ESPECIALLY heavy syrup.
- Instead of adding sugar to cereal or oatmeal, add fresh fruit (try bananas, cherries or strawberries) or dried fruit (raisins, cranberries or apricots).
- When baking cookies, brownies or cakes, cut the sugar called for in your recipe by one-third to one-half. Often you and your happy eaters won’t notice the difference!
- Instead of adding sugar in recipes, use extracts such as almond, vanilla, orange or lemon.
- Enhance foods with spices instead of sugar; try ginger, allspice, cinnamon or nutmeg. Cinnamon is my jam.
- Substitute unsweetened applesauce for sugar in recipes (use equal amounts)
The moral of this story is simple: Be aware of your sugar intake. Don’t make yourself crazy about it, but be conscious of what’s going into your body.
Sugar is something to be enjoyed sparingly. The less added sugar you consume, the better you’ll feel and look.
You can take control of the sugar monster. I believe in you. We’re in this together.
Leave me a comment in the box below and share some sugar wisdom with us. Do you have any delicious sugar alternatives?
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