For so long we were told to avoid eating fats because it would make us fat. The evidence is in front of us every time we walk into the supermarket – down every isle there are “low fat” or “fat free” items marketed to make us think we can literally have our cake and eat it too – get the perfect beach body and still eat the “fat free” version of your favourite foods!
But in more recent years there has been a shift. Sugar is becoming known as the bigger enemy when it comes to weight loss and health, and with the pile of evidence against sugar growing it’s hard to ignore!
WHAT IS SUGAR?
Sugar is a type of carbohydrate and it is essential for energy production in the body. It is important for your body function to include some natural sugars (found in fruit, vegetables and milk) in your diet. But free or added sugars – those that are added to food and drinks – can have be very harmful and drastically impact your body physically and emotionally.
(Just some of the) NEGATIVE AFFECTS OF SUGAR
It stores as fat – if you eat more than your body needs, any excess sugar will be converted to fat in the body. This can cause unhealthy levels of body fat, leading to obesity and a whole bunch of serious health problems (diabetes, gum disease, heart disease etc.).
It inhibits your body from burning your stored fat – having high levels of sugar in your blood blocks your body from using already stored fat as an energy source.
It’s addictive – a lot of us have an addiction to sugar that leaves us with mood swings, headaches, fatigue and/or cravings for more sweet foods.
HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH?
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends adults should be eating less than 12 teaspoons (around 50g) of free (added) sugar per day, which is less than 10% of the average adult diet. This is very easy to exceed without even realising with all the foods and drinks we have access to. It has been reported that Australians devour an average of 30 tablespoons a day – that’s more than double the recommendation!
You’re thinking “there’s no way I eat that much!” right? Think again… there are high levels of sugar in foods you may consider to be healthy.
Processed foods – packaged foods are often full of added sugar and preservatives to make foods last longer in the cupboard. Even foods you may think are healthy like breakfast cereals or muesli can fill your body with excess sugar. Eg. Uncle Tobys Protein Plus Cereal has a whopping 23.5g of sugar and only 13.6g of protein in a 100g serve – that’s almost 25% sugar and very minimal protein for a product marketed as a “protein rich” food!
“Low fat” or “fat free” foods – while the calories are lower in fat reduced foods compared to full fat versions, these modified and processed foods often have a higher sugar content and a long list of chemicals in place of the fat. Eg. Jalna Natural Greek Yogurt has 129 calories and 4.8g of sugar per 100g serve, while the low fat version has 101 calories and 6.7g sugar.
Fruit Juice – Even though juices are made up of fruit, which is a natural source of sugar, having one glass of juice contain half of your sugar content for the day. Eg. Goulburn Valley Orange Juice contains 19.8g of sugar in one glass. When you’re supposed to have less than 50g in a day a glass of OJ can easily raise your levels too high.
Sugar does play an important role in the body and, let’s face it, make foods taste delicious! BUT it is important to keep the amount you’re eating in check to avoid the negative side effects it can have on your body, and If you want to lose fat there is a good chance your sugar consumption is holding you back!
So take notice of what are fuelling your body with don’t be fooled by misguided advertising.