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How Much Sugar is Too Much?

August 13, 2013 2 min read

It's a no-brainer that we should avoid sugar when eating healthy, or trying to lose a few pounds. Many in the fitness world think of sugar as poison. But, do you really know why? And how much is too much?



Sugar 101

Simple sugars like white table sugar, syrups, or even white flour products cause our blood sugar to rise more rapidly. This makes it much more likely that the body will convert these sugars into fat, and leave us with lower energy. Another negative is that the brain acts like it is "addicted" to sugar. It's like the old saying, "you give a mouse a cookie", he's going to want even more food. Sugar releases dopamine in the brain, making us feel happy and rewarded.  This is what creates the vicious cycle of sugar cravings! Another scary bit of information is that high sugar consumption may lead to high triglyceride levels and accelerate the body's aging processes.

[caption id="attachment_14229" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Dreadful sugary fake fruit. Dreadful sugary fake fruit.[/caption]

Eat This, Not That

So, what's a girl to do? Avoid all sugars? No way!

All of those fresh fruits are loaded with nutrients and antioxidants that keep us strong, lean, and healthy. Mysteriously, we still do not know how it works, but when we eat whole fruits, our body does not react the same way as eating a candy bar. This is most likely due to the combination of fiber and phytochemicals. The fruit sugars are absorbed more slowly, and the body processes them much better.

What to avoid: Any sources of added sugars. This means you must read your labels. If it is not from a whole food, I generally, do not eat it. A good rule of thumb is to limit foods with more than 5 grams of sugar per serving. My one exception to this is yogurt which naturally contains lactose (the milk sugar). Dried fruits are a good choice  as long as you can portion control them. They are like nature's candy!

Limit agave sugar, or any syrup that sounds healthy--it is still a source of sugar. A new favorite of mine is date sugar which is made purely from dates!

So, to answer the question: how much is too much? Keep added sugar levels as low as humanly possible. Eat as many fresh fruits as you like. And practice moderation with other sugars that you may want to eat. A maximum should be: 6 teaspoons per day for women and 9 teaspoons per day for men.

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