Sugar - that small, soluble carbohydrate that adds so much flavor to our food and drinks. Many foods, such as fruit, contain natural sugars, which can be beneficial to our health in moderation. But the amount of added sugar in our Western diet is alarming and may be causing more harm than we know.
There are 61 names for sugar. Some are well known, such as high fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, sucrose, and dextrose, but many are not known and are disguised on our food labels, making it difficult to make smart choices. Manufacturers are also not required to differentiate between natural versus added sugars on food labels, making it nearly impossible to stay within recommendations for consumption.
On average, Americans consume about three times more sugar than recommended. The American Heart Association recommends 9 teaspoons (38 grams) or less per day for men and 6 teaspoons (25 grams) or less per day for women. For children, they recommend between 3-6 teaspoons (12-25 grams) per day, depending on caloric needs and age.1
Wondering how much that is? Most 12-ounce sodas exceed those recommendations.
To make life a little more difficult, many marketed “healthy” foods have added sugars. Some of these foods include protein bars, yogurts, cereals, and breakfast bars.
What does added sugar do to our bodies?
- Weight Gain. Most added sugars are for flavoring and provide no nutritional value but do provide a lot of empty calories that don’t fuel our bodies and get stored as fat.
- Risk of Disease. When we consume too much sugar, our liver can’t metabolize it all, so it’s stored as fat, which can then lead to risk of preventable diseases such as obesity, Type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Added sugars also accelerate cell oxidation, which can damage tissues, proteins, and organs leading to liver disease and kidney failure. 2
- Energy Roller Coaster. Refined carbs that have added sugars cause our blood glucose levels to rapidly rise, giving us a boost of energy. This quick boost is usually followed by lack of energy and sleepiness.
- Early Aging. Studies have shown that added sugar can reduce the repair of collagen, which is what gives our skin our elasticity. This can cause early wrinkles.
- Cravings. Sugar releases dopamine. The more we consume sugar, the more we want more of it from overstimulation. The more this happens, the more our bodies crave more to get the same “reaction,” leading us to crave more sweet treats.
Ways to cut out the added sugars:
- Drink water. Cut out high sugar drinks like sodas, energy drinks, and any fruit juices that aren’t 100-percent fruit juice.
- Read labels. At Farrell’s eXtreme Bodyshaping, we coach our members on nutrition and how to read labels to make the best choices to fuel bodies.
- Eat real fruit with natural sugars instead of desserts like cookies, cake, pies. Many fruits also provide fiber, which we need.
- Choose savory snacks, like cheese and crackers, nuts and seeds, or vegetables.
- Choose reduced-sugar jams or jellies.
- Select protein bars that contain less than 5 grams of sugar.
A healthy diet that fuels your body and daily exercise are the best ways to prevent health risks and reduce stress. At Farrell’s eXtreme Bodyshaping, our passion is teaching members to live a healthy lifestyle through our unique 10-week challenge, which includes fitness kickboxing, strength training, nutrition coaching and accountability.