When we hear the word “sugar,” most of us think about candy, cookies, and other sweet foods. While these items are high in the sweet stuff, there are many types of foods that contain sugar. In fact, it’s often challenging for us to know just how much sugar we eat. According to the American Heart Association, Americans consume an average of 77 grams of sugar per day. For context, the recommended limit for added sugar is 25g per day for women and 37.5g per day for men.
Eating too much sugar on a regular basis can lead to many health issues throughout the entire body. A high sugar diet may contribute to obesity as well as an increased risk for type 2 diabetes. Additional research also points to sugar increases inflammation in the body and blood pressure, both of which are related to heart disease. The body of evidence linking sugar consumption and disease provides strong support for reducing sugar intake.
At Healthy Steps, we have designed our program to help you lose the weight you want without changing your diet. However, cutting certain foods from your diet, such as sugar, can help you reach your target weight faster while also improving your overall health. Our talented team of weight-loss experts is ready to support you throughout your entire journey.
Beware of Your Sugar Intake
One approach to lowering sugar intake is to cut back on high-sugar foods, such as cakes, pies, cookies, and candies. This is especially challenging for anyone with a sweet tooth. However, it may help to tackle the habit in small steps. For example, if you tend to have a sweet dessert (like ice cream or cookies) every night, set a goal to only enjoy this type of dessert once or twice a week.
For some people, a high sugar intake comes from drinking our calories. In fact, 47% of all added sugars consumed in the United States comes from sugar-sweetened beverages. A 20-ounce bottle of most sodas contains a whopping 70 grams of sugar. Limiting soda, fruit drinks, and sports drinks is a critical strategy for reducing sugar intake. A useful tip is to identify a replacement beverage that you enjoy, such as sparkling water or water with a slice of lemon.
Natural Sugar, Added Sugar and Artificial
Another key point to keep in mind when managing sugar intake is to know the difference between “natural sugars” and “added sugars.” Natural sugars already exist in foods like dairy products, grains, vegetables, and fruit. In fact, when reading the food label on a gallon of milk, you’ll notice that there is sugar in milk – this is an example of natural sugar. Consuming sugar in its natural form is typically not an issue for healthy adults.
In contrast, added sugar is used as an extra sweetener in a variety of processed foods. When choosing foods at the grocery store, your goal should be to minimize items that have added sugar. Reading food labels and ingredient lists are practices you can use to select better foods. Sugar can appear in many different forms on an ingredient list, including “high fructose corn syrup,” “honey,” “maple syrup,” “turbinado sugar,” and “evaporated cane juice.” These words are all flags to help you identify that sugar has been added to a product.
Applying strategies to minimize added sugar intake is a great way to improve your nutrition and your overall health. Given the many negative effects of high sugar intake, it’s worth the time and energy to put these strategies outlined above into place.
At Healthy Steps, we will help you identify which foods will help you lose weight faster and which ones will slow your progress. Schedule an appointment at one of our clinics today so you can reach your goal weight fast!