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The Sugar Coated Truth: How Much Sugar is Too Much?

By Julia Aimers

THE SUGAR COATED TRUTH: 3 QUESTIONS ABOUT SUGAR

Thank you to everyone who emailed, “Facebooked” and tweeted this week about my last article on the 3 Confessions from a Triathlete & Exercise Physiologist. Your kind words of support for my sugar crusade are much appreciated. I am encouraged by your curiosity to learn more! The question that stood out the loudest this week was: how much sugar should we have?

1) HOW MUCH SUGAR IS TOO MUCH?

On Jan 7th, 2016, Reuters reported that the U.S. government now recommends that sugar should not exceed 10% of an individual’s daily caloric intake. Looks like the Americans are on a new sugar crusade as well! Interestingly though, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 5th, 2014, we shouldn’t ingest more than 5% of our daily calories from added sugar. As of July 2014, Health Canada’s highly criticized proposed recommendation was no more than 20% of natural and added sugars combined…yikes, confusing!

2) HOW DOES SUGAR MEASURE UP?

Let’s go with the best case scenario for our health and take the numbers from the WHO. We’ll set a limit of no more than 5% of our daily calories being from added sugar. On a 2000 calorie per day diet that would mean 100 calories of added sugar. This is where things got confusing for me: how do all of these sugar measurements add up?

Here’s a chart to explain the different measurements of sugar:

AMOUNT   EQUIVALENCIES  RECOMMENDATIONS
(from the WHO)
5% OF 2000 CALORIES PER DAY
= 100 CALORIES OF ADDED SUGAR PER DAY < 100 CALORIES OF ADDED SUGAR PER DAY
1 GRAM OF SUGAR = 4 CALORIES < 25 GRAMS OF ADDED SUGAR PER DAY
1 TEASPOON OF SUGAR = 4 GRAMS OF SUGAR < 6 TEASPOONS OF ADDED SUGAR PER DAY
1 SUGAR CUBE = 4 GRAMS OF SUGAR < 6 SUGAR CUBES PER DAY

Source: Julia Aimers www.pbest.ca

3) WHERE IS ADDED SUGAR LURKING?

A problem arose when I looked at nutrition labels. Sugar is listed in grams and added sugars are not separated out. You need to be a detective to figure out if there is added sugar in products and how many grams there are. We know for sure that there are natural sugars in fruit and their juices, and milk. Other products get more confusing so that’s when we have to read the ingredients.

Here’s a list of added sugars:

Malt Sugar
Molasses
Barley Malt Extract
Syrup
Cane Sugar, Syrup
Stevia
Honey
Maple Syrup
Corn Syrup
Corn Starch
Glucose, Fructose, Sucrose, Dextrose, Maltose

It’s practically impossible to find bread, salad dressing, cereal, pasta sauce, sliced turkey, granola bars, yoghurt, muffins or pizza without added sugar! So I created a rule: 1 gram of sugar or more per serving and it gets left on the shelf!

THE SHOCKING SUGAR COATED TRUTH!
I went back onto My Fitness Pal, which got me started on the sugar crusade, and looked at how many grams of sugar were in foods I used to eat. Like most athletes, my training foods for long workouts were on there. The sweet topic of energy drinks, gels and bars will need to be explored next!

Here’s the shocking list:

Foods with more than 25 grams of sugar:
Grande Chai Latte – 32 grams :(
Dairy Queen Small Hot Fudge Sundae – 37 grams
Tim Horton’s Creamy Chocolate Chill – 50 grams
Chocolate Milk – 50 grams
Gatorade – 35 grams!!

Sugar That Adds Up:
Low Fat Vanilla Yoghurt – 10 grams
Gluten Free Granola – 6 grams
Coconut Almond Milk – 20 grams
Indian Split Pea Soup – 6 grams
Gluten Free Bread – 11 grams
Quinoa Skinny Crackers – 2 grams
Salad Dressing – 1-4 grams
Gluten Free Peanut Butter Cookie – 7 grams
4 Squares of a Chocolate Bar – 6 grams
Peanut Butter Lara Energy Bar – 18 grams

When starting the sugar crusade, all of the calories from these items were replaced with healthier foods. The result was very few sugar cravings, supressed appetite, decreased inflammation and weight loss. This crusade isn’t about body weight but is about protecting myself and you from heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, cancer, and about generally reducing (chronic) inflammation caused by too much sugar.

And that, my friends, is the Sugar Coated Truth!

In the coming weeks, I will explore sugar addiction, the risks of too much sugar, energy bars and drinks, alcohol and artificial sweetners. Follow along on Facebook, Twitter or join my weekly email list for updates. Get inspired to make some great changes in your life! If you would like to start now, I love working with clients one on one. Feel free to shoot me an email: [email protected]

Julia Aimers – Coach
juliaJulia Aimers (BA Rec Admin, Certified Exercise Physiologist) is a NCCP Level 1 Triathlon Coach and Level 2 Technical Road Cycling coach. She has completed her Swim Coaching course and is an Ottawa, Ontario based coach who uses the Total Immersion ™ approach to swimming. To read more about Julia please visit her website: http://www.pbest.ca/team-coach/


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