I was having a conversation with Betsy on Twitter yesterday about added sugars. When you’re trying to lose weight, added sugars are a sneaky reason why you might be struggling. Also, for your health, it’s just good to know how much sugar you’re consuming a day.
The World Health Organization recommends that a normal weight adult eat no more than 25 grams of sugar a day. But that’s total sugar, not just added sugars. Lots of foods have naturally occurring sugars. Typically, those aren’t the culprit though, and they’re also an important part of your diet. (I once did a diet that told me that the only fruit I could have was green apples because they were the lowest in sugar, and I also needed to avoid carrots. That diet was stupid.)
The big problem is added sugars. I’ve talked about artificial sweeteners here before, and maybe, like me, you’re good about avoiding those. But what about all the other sneaky sugar?
Okay, so obviously sodas and candy bars have added sugar. A lot. A typical can of soda has over 30 grams of sugar. And that’s just in 12 ounces! 4 grams of sugar is about one teaspoon, so you can easily see how it adds up.
Unfortunately, there are some sneaky sugars as well. If you eat a lot of reduced fat foods, you know what they add to make it taste better? Sugar.
One (now former) staple of my diet was fat free Greek yogurt. I won’t name a brand here, because the stats are all pretty similar. Looking at the black cherry flavor, I was pleased to see that there were no artificial sweeteners. Oh wait, that’s because they use sugar. Better than an artificial sweetener, but something I should be aware of. This flavor has 17 grams of sugar. Now, some of that is naturally occurring. The same brand in the plain flavor has 4 grams of sugar, so that’s from the dairy. And yes, there are cherries in there. But a USDA search tells me that a whole cup of cherries only has 13 grams of sugar, and there’s not a cup of cherries in my 6 ounce yogurt. So where is the majority of that sugar coming from? Look at the ingredients. Evaporated cane juice. Natural, yes, and definitely a better choice over a fake sugar, but it’s still there.
Sugars are everywhere. Salad dressings. Peanut butter (even the natural kind sometimes). Marinades and sauces. Breads. Even spaghetti sauce often has sugar added. Now, I’m not saying you need to avoid all these things. I just think we need to be aware of them. It’s easy to be watching calories and think that you’re eating healthy and totally miss just how much sugar you’re ingesting.
For now, I’m just paying attention to added sugars and not worrying about fruit sugars. It means reading labels at the grocery store. It’s something I should have been doing all along. I’m not sitting down and writing out how many grams of sugar I’m consuming every day, I’m just paying attention.
I’ve actually replaced my fat free yogurt with a full fat plain greek yogurt sprinkled with some low sugar granola. It tastes like I’m eating cheesecake. Definitely a decadent treat and much more filling than my previous low fat option.
And it’s definitely not an all or nothing deal either. Desserts will never be totally off the menu for me. But I’ve decided that if I’m going to blow my sugar goal, I’m going to make sure it’s worth it. I’m not just going to eat any old cupcakes. Just the really good ones.
But how does this fit into fitness and fueling on the run? For me, it really doesn’t. I worry about sugars in my regular diet. When I’m on a two hour run, those sugars don’t get factored in. Ideally they’re burning right off. I don’t know if it’s true, but I treat my daily diet and my workout fuel as two different worlds at this point.
Do you pay attention to added sugars in your diet? Found anything surprising?