The Low Down on Sugar
In this series, “The Down Low on Nutrition”, we answer some popular questions from clients about the best nutritional support to help achieve fitness goals. Turning to our trainers who are qualified Holistic Lifestyle Nutrition Coaches, we ask them for insight and their best tips. In this post, Jade McClure writes about sugar.
Getting our clients to reduce their sugar intake is something we often preach at Precision Athletics. We see such huge improvements in our clients’ weight, energy and health when we get them to focus on reducing their sugar intake, that we make it a priority.
But cutting sugar from your diet can be tough. In fact, studies have shown that sugar is up to eight times more addictive than cocaine, so you can understand how hard it is for many people to give up the sugar. Also, sugar is in everything we eat!
Sugar is a cheap additive that food manufacturers use for flavor, and comes by many names. Check out these 46 different names that are used to trick you into thinking their product doesn’t contain “sugar”:
Agave – Barley malt – Beet sugar – Blackstrap molasses – Brown rice syrup – Brown sugar – Buttered syrup – Cane juice crystals – Cane sugar – Caramel – Coconut sugar – Corn syrup – Corn syrup solids – Confectioner’s sugar – Carob syrup – Castor sugar – Date sugar – Dextrin – Dextrose – Ethyl maltol – Fructose – Fruit juice – Fruit juice concentrate – Glucose – Glucose solids – Golden sugar – Golden syrup – Grape sugar – High-fructose corn syrup – Honey – Icing sugar – Lactose – Maltodextrin – Maltose – Malt syrup – Maple syrup – Molasses – Muscovado sugar – Raw sugar – Refiner’s syrup – Rice syrup – Sorbitol – Sorghum syrup – Sucrose – Turbinado sugar – Yellow sugar
While some of these forms of sugar may be considered healthier than plain sugar, the reaction they have in your system when ingested is the same.
Whether you consumed sugar, raw honey, brown sugar, date sugar or even fruit juice concentrate, the reaction in your system will be to release the hormone insulin. Insulin’s job is to take excess blood sugar and store it away in places in your body for use later. This way you have stored sugar you can access when you need it for things like intense exercise.
Guess what excess blood sugar gets stored as? You guess it, FAT! It can be pretty easy to have excess of blood sugar, as most people don’t realize how much sugar they are consuming each day. While you may not be the type of person who’s having candy or ice cream on a regular basis, you might still be having too much sugar for your current goals.
Reduce Your Sugar Intake
Sugar is in everything from bread, ketchup, pasta sauces, yogurt, milk substitutes and even your “healthy” supplements. By the end of the day many people are having 10+ teaspoons worth of sugar in their day without even knowing it.
So how do we figure out how much sugar we are having? Let’s look at the conversion of what we typically find in products to simplify things:
- 4 grams of sugar = one teaspoon of sugar
- 10 grams = 2.5 teaspoons
Examples of sneaky sugar in our diet:
- The average flavoured yogurt has around 20 grams of sugar, meaning it has 5 teaspoons of sugar.
- One cup of orange juice has around 20 grams (5 teaspoons) even though there is “no sugar added.”
- One cup of apple juice has 24 grams (6 teaspoons).
- One can of Coke in Canada has 42 grams of sugar, which is 10.5 teaspoons!
So now you might be thinking, “Okay, so sugar is in everything. How much sugar should I be having each day?”
That’s a tough one to answer, as we are all different – we have different tolerances to things like sugar and caffeine and have different fitness, weight loss and energy goals. For example, if your goal is to get healthier and change your body composition in favour of a lower fat percentage – like many of the clients who come to see us – then I would focus on lowering your sugar intake as much as possible.
If a serving of food or drink has more than 10 grams (2.5 teaspoons) of sugar in it I would avoid it, unless it’s naturally-occurring sugar such as in a piece of fruit, or if it’s a specific treat meal. While there are other ways to see fast results, reducing your sugar intake is one of the best ways I can recommend to improve your health and body composition.
If you’re not sure where to start, one of our nutrition coaches can create a specific plan to fit your needs, and that will help you get results, fast!