“You can’t manage what you don’t measure”
In all honesty there’s a plethora of reasons why you should be watching your added sugar intake. Taking in too much added sugar each day will obviously effect your overall health and how you look and feel. Rather than go into all the reasons why you need to monitor your daily added sugar, let’s focus on just one of those reasons. If this one point can be taken away and followed after reading this, then you will see over time, a change in the way you look and feel.
You first need to understand that the majority of what you’re currently consuming has sugar in it. Natural sugars are what in found fruits, vegetables and whole grains. These are OK but remember that fruit – even though it’s natural and typically has a high fiber content – still contains fructose (sugar), so eat it in moderation and maybe seasonally as well, that’s your choice. Added sugars are basically everything excluding fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Start by reading all food labels and you may be surprised to find out the amount of added sugar that you have been eating on a regular basis.
Your goal should be to eat around 100 calories (25 grams) of added sugar each day if you’re a female and about 150 calories (38 grams) a day if you’re a male. Try to keep a food journal on just daily added sugar over the course of the next 3-5 days.
What happens when you consume too much “added” sugar throughout the day?
You just devoured your favorite chocolate bar and it tasted great! It is now being digested and absorbed in your body. When you eat, the hormone insulin, is rapidly released from your pancreas which sits behind your stomach. The added sugar that was consumed elicits an increase in your blood sugar (glucose) and the response by the pancreas is to continue to release more insulin. Keep in mind that insulin, produced by beta cells in your pancreas, is the main regulator of sugar in your bloodstream and if this fails you eventually get diabetes. By eating high-glycemic type foods (i.e. simple carbohydrates) you end up basically sending your blood sugar on this roller coaster ride – spiking and then dropping after each meal or snack. This may be happening 3-5 times a day depending on what you’re eating (see graph). The important take home point here is that:
Hormones like insulin diminish our ability to burn body fat. According to the American Medical Association, “fat is mobilized when insulin is diminished”.
This is why it’s important to start regulating the amount of added sugar each day…starting today! If you continue to eat high glycemic foods (especially when they are not paired with protein) you end up with more insulin “hanging around” and a greater likelihood of storing additional fat. Don’t put it off, this coupled with a good exercise plan, will help keep your blood sugar and insulin levels in check. More than 26 million Americans (8.3% of U.S. population) have diabetes and there are 79 million Americans who are pre-diabetic but only 11% know it…
American Medical Association Council on Foods and Nutrition (1973). A critique of low carbohydrate ketogenic weight reduction regimens. A review of Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution. JAMA 224(10):1415-1419.