What’s The Deal With Sugar Anyway?

We are excited to be back in the blogging world!  Did you know we have an on-staff nutritionist?  Donna recently graduated with her Master’s of Science degree in Integrative and Functional Nutrition! Here is our first blog post just in time for holiday nutritional guidance.


Did you hear about that experiment in which, given the choice, mice chose sugar over cocaine http://www.foodaddictionsummit.org/docs/Lenoir_Serre_Article.pdf?  Yikes!

It’s no secret that consuming too much sugar is “bad” for you, but why?  According to healthline.com, consuming sugar releases opioids and dopamine, two “feel-good” hormones that activate the reward center in your brain[1].  Simply put, this means that it makes you feel temporarily good and then your brain craves more of that feeling, leading to wanting more of the thing that makes you feel good – just like a drug.  There are obvious consequences to consuming too much sugar – like weight gain, increased risk of diabetes, cavities – but there are also some not so obvious ones like headaches, joint pain (too much sugar can cause inflammation), bad skin, mood swings, and depression, just to name a few.

However, it’s important to understand that the most harmful sugar is processed or refined sugar.  Natural sugars are found in foods like milk and fruit; they are not added to a food, they are naturally present.  When consuming fruit and dairy products, it’s important to remember that these foods are in their own neat little package, and include other components like fiber and nutrients, to slow down sugar absorption.  On the contrary, processed or refined sugars are added to foods to increase the sweetness and appeal of the food.  While you wouldn’t want to spend your whole day eating fruit or drinking milk, you most definitely don’t want to get the bulk of your daily calories from added sugars

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans suggest cutting down added sugar intake to less than 10% of your total caloric daily intake[2]; that’s 12 teaspoons for a 2,000 calorie diet.  A 12 oz. soda has almost 11 teaspoons of sugar in it!  To cut down on added sugar consumption, you need to know where those added sugars are coming from.  Major culprits are beverages like energy drinks, sweetened coffee/tea, fruit juices, alcoholic drinks and sodas as well as snack foods like cookies, brownies, candy, etc.  However, there are other surprising sources of sugar that you may not think about, like ketchup, salad dressing, granola bars, and even bread. Be sure to read nutrition labels and be aware that sugar comes under many disguised names.  Here are a few to look out for: barley malt syrup, cane juice, corn syrup, dextrin, honey, rice syrup, and anything else that ends with “sugar” such as palm sugar.

The good news is that you can train yourself to get used to eating less sugar by decreasing your consumption.  Eventually your body will recognize sweet foods as “too sweet”, and, unless you go back to regularly consuming added sugars, you will crave less of it.  This is why we are inviting you to:



(yup, you’ll finish the day before Thanksgiving!)

To join, e-mail our on-staff nutritionist: donna@nmsportsfitness.com.  You will be invited to join our private Facebook group where you’ll receive a healthy tip everyday of the challenge, as well as helpful recipes and ideas.  This group is FREE to join but there is an option to upgrade your challenge by purchasing a suggested meal plan.  For more details, e-mail Donna at the above address.

[1] https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/experts-is-sugar-addictive-drug#7

[2] https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/resources/dga_cut-down-on-added-sugars.pdf

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