EVOLVE nutrition Foundation week 2:
I am so glad you’re now hydrated after Week 1! How are you feeling? Like a new person? Hopefully it was easy for some, but I am sure for many of you it was hard. Did you hit your water goal everyday? We hope that you did and that it is now second nature to have your new, colorful, stickered up water bottle at your side. It is okay to have a day where you forget, but at EVOLVE we always say shoot for 80%.
Your next goal is to eliminate sugar-sweetened beverages. I am sure that many of you already do this, but for those of you who do not, this is absolutely paramount.
We have all heard about sugar, and if you haven’t, you might live under a rock (always possible in Flagstaff). Sugar is HORRIBLE right? Well, it's actually more nuanced than that. Sugar can be not the worst in all cases, and is in many ways essential. But there are times and forms of sugar, such as sugar-sweetened beverages, that we want to avoid. So, let's dive in.
What is sugar?
Sugar is considered a carbohydrate (we will delve deeper into what these are later) but not all carbohydrates are sugars. Here are some forms of sugars:
Fructose (naturally occurring in fruit and honey)
Sucrose (naturally occurring in cane and beets)
Maltose (sucrose and fructose)
Galactose (glucose and lactose)
Lactose (naturally occuring in milk)
You probably recognize some of these names. Also notice the "ose" on the end of each of these. Whenever you see a word that ends in "ose" know that is a sugar, this is handy when looking at food labels.
Sugar is used in our bodies for many functions. Every cell requires some sort of sugar to function. It is the main source of energy in our muscles (glycogen), neurological function (our brains prefer sugar), and hormones. Many of the common foods we eat are converted to sugar for our bodies to use as energy. And, almost all foods, especially vegetables and fruit, have some natural sugars or are converted to sugar by the body. So, when people say they are "quitting sugar" or eating absolutely no sugar, it's technically not possible. They're probably referring to added, refined sugars, which are good to limit, as we discuss below. We think this is an important distinction, because at EVOLVE we want to teach you how to eat in a healthy and balanced way, without guilt or remorse about certain foods.
Is sugar bad? It's complicated.
Too much of a good thing is usually not a good thing, and this is the case for sugar. Too much sugar can definitely cause problems in the body. We start to run into problems when there is sugar in excess. Naturally there is sugar in many of our foods (i.e fruit, vegetables and dairy), but the food industry has started to ADD sugar into many foods that wouldn't naturally have sugar in them. The leading source of sugar in the American Diet includes the following:
Fruit drinks and juices
Sweetened coffee drinks (those freezy fraps from Starbucks, you know)
Sports drinks (there is a time and a place for these, but the time and place is not at your desk).
Excessive sugar intakes is associated with weight gain, obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, chronic kidney disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, tooth decay and gout. Sounds great right? Not really. When you have an excessive amount of sugar plus other energy (from your food), your body doesn’t know what to do with all of it. Your body will then turn the sugar into triglycerides (fat) and this can decrease your insulin sensitivity (hello, diabetes).
Now, a single soda once in a blue moon won’t do this, but it is a good idea to be aware.
So let’s break it down.
20 oz coke= 65 g sugar
Arizona Iced Tea= 72 g sugar
Starbucks Frappuccino= 45 g sugar
Jamba Juice smoothie (small)= 67 g sugar
Minute Maid Lemonade= 40 g sugar
Snapple (mango)= 44 g sugar
Monster= 57 g sugar
It takes about an hour to walk off 70 grams sugar. That is a long time. L
Natural Sugar vs. Added Sugar
Natural sugar is sugar naturally occuring in food, like fruit or milk (13 g sugar per cup from lactose). Added sugar is sugar that has been removed from its original source and added to a product during processing, like chocolate milk (24 g sugar with and 11 g of those are added). Naturally occuring sugars are okay. Fruit is not a junk food, not all sugar is bad, but condensed, added sugar is much harder on your body. The American Heart Association has set maximum daily amount of added sugar that you should have per day:
Daily Added Sugar Limits
Men: 9 tsp teaspoons, 36g
Women: 6 tsp, 25 g
Nutrition labels are now starting to have added sugar included under the total sugars.
Do you ever stand there in the store and wonder what all the labels and terms mean? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Sugar-free: <0.5g sugar per serving
Reduced sugar or less sugar: at least 25% less sugar per serving compared to a standard serving size of the traditional variety
No added sugars or without added sugars: no sugars or sugar containing ingredient such as juice or dried fruit is added during processing. Note: This does NOT mean that the food is low in sugar. For example, dried mangos nearly 100% sugar, but some types have no added sugars.
Low sugar: This is actually not defined or allowed as a claim on food labels
What about artificial sweeteners (AS)?
Well, that is a tough question. Research is still being conducted as we speak to truly understand the effects of AS on our bodies. Here is one thing that we do know for sure, many artificial sweeteners are exponentially sweeter than natural sugar. Meaning that if our brains get used to this super duper sweetness, it requires more to satiate our brains when we are consuming real sugar… which means we eat more sugar. Artificial sweeteners may also be detrimental to the gut microbiome.
Building on Week 1
Alright, so you can probably guess what your next goal is to replace all sugar sweetened beverages with water. Yes, this includes soda in mixed drinks, sugar in your tea and in your coffee. If you find water a little boring sometimes or just need something else, try some sparkling water or fruit infused water. Here is a link to the video for more information.
Now, you don't get to throw your water goal out the window. Try continue to meet your water goal everyday, but the main focus is eliminating sugar-sweetened beverages. Let me know how things are going! Feel free to pop by if you have any questions!
Concerned or confused about nutrition? Not sure if your current nutritional habits are helping you meet your goals? Feel free to pop in Abby's office, schedule an appointment, or shoot her an email at firstname.lastname@example.org