Sunday, January 23, 2011

Monitor Your Sugar Intake

The rise in sugar consumption in the U.S. is one of the more confusing dietary trends in the last century, according to author Gary Taubes (Good Calories, Bad Calories).

My question to you - do you have any idea how much sugar (simple carbohydrate) your taking in on a daily basis? If not, your first goal is to start reading food labels to get an idea of the sugar content is in the foods that your eating on a regular basis. You will be amazed at how much sugar is in certain products. Start with your breakfast. If your having some type of cold cereal in the morning start checking the amount of sugar per serving on the side of the box. Even cereals - like certain types of Granola - can have a high percentage of overall calories coming from sugar. Remember sugar can "hide" under other names, look for words ending in "ose" as your eyes wander down the ingredient list.

"If you are concerned about your intake of sugar, make sure that added sugars are not listed as one of the first few ingredients. Other names for added sugars include: corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate, maltose, dextrose, sucrose, honey, and maple syrup." (source: FDA website).

The reason you need to pay special attention to the sugar content on food labels is because - "no daily reference value has been established for sugars because no recommendations have been made for the total amount to eat in a day." according to the FDA

I did find this however - 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends no more than 8 teaspoons per day of added sugar based on a 2,000 calories/day diet.  That's 32 grams if you're reading labels, and about 6% of your total calories for the day. I found other recommendations at 40 grams/day.

Remember that a healthy diet should have about 45-65% of it's calories in the form of carbohydrates (and the remaining calories coming from fat and protein). If your real active, your at the higher end (60%) and if your not, your at the lower end (50%). This carbohydrate number is broken down into simple/complex. Your simple carbohydrate intake, which is what we are talking about today, should consist of less than 25% of your overall caloric intake each day. More on simple and complex carbohydrate can be found here and here.

A final note, of the cereals pictured above, the Oatmeal has only 1 gram/sugar per serving while the others ranged from 6-17 grams of sugar/serving. How many people have just one serving? As you can begin to see - most people reach their sugar content limit for the day...after their first meal. One of your better choices is basic old Oatmeal and if your trying to eliminate sugars even more (like in a Paleo diet) than even this is taken off the table...bring on the eggs and lentils!

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