Sugar is everywhere these days. It’s not just in your common violators like ice cream or pop. It’s also in foods labeled as “health foods”, such as protein bars, smoothies, sports drinks, and basically any item labeled as low fat. So why is this a problem? Well, if you have been through our 6-Week Challenge you have probably heard why sugar is causing problems, so in case you have forgotten or need a refresher, this is for you.
Junk In, Junk Out
Too much sugar has been linked to obesity, diabetes and heart disease – all things that we are fighting against at CrossFit Icehouse. You have probably heard it before that you cannot out work a bad diet. So even if you are going to the gym 5-7 days per week, but you are eating and fueling yourself with junk, you will get the health results of eating junk.
So, how much sugar is a safe amount? The World Health Organization recommends that sugar be no more than 5% of your daily calorie intake. This works out to be about 6 teaspoons, or 25 grams. The American Heart Association recommends limiting sugar to no more than 100 calories/day or 6 teaspoons for women, and 150 calories/day or 9 teaspoons for men. In Greg Glassman’s Fitness in 100 Words he says, “Eat meat and veggies, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar”. He does say “no sugar”, but that is with the idea that you will be eating good quality whole foods that have a normal amount of natural sugar in them.
Good sugars can be found in almost all whole foods, especially fruits. The reason we want to get most of our sugar from these sources is because the sugar is supported by fiber, water and nutrients that keep your blood sugar levels from spiking like they do with added sugars. However, too much fruit could be a bad thing as well. Primarily if you pack a lot of fruit in a smoothie. Blending up fruit breaks it down further so that your digestive track doesn’t have to do as much work, thus increasing the blood sugar spike. So, do your best to eat fruit in its whole state and don’t over pack a smoothie with more fruit than you normally eat with a meal.
We know too much sugar is not good for us, we have an estimate of how much sugar to eat and we know what sources to get our sugar from. It is our responsibility to make sure we are not harming ourselves with too much sugar. However, you are not in this alone. If you struggle with binging on sweets or having too much sugar, reach out to someone who could be your accountability partner. You could also talk with a coach or sign up for Precision Nutrition Coaching to help dial in those cravings. Overall, try and pay attention to food labels and become an informed consumer.