How Much Sugar Is Too Much Sugar?

Posted on Posted in Educate yo' self, RESTART
consumptionThe average American consumes about 150 pounds of sugar every year. That is nearly 3 pounds of sugar each week or 12.5 tablespoons per day.
 
 

Check out these other fun facts about sugar:

 
  • Today, 31% of American adults and 13% of kids suffer from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease(NAFLD).¹ Two of the leading causes are insulin resistance and high blood sugar (hyperglycemia). Both caused, in part, by excess consumption of sugar and carbohydrate (other contributing factors include chronic stress, lack of sleep, and obesity).
  • There is growing scientific consensus that one of the most common types of sugar, fructose, can be toxic to the liver, just like alcohol.¹
  • Manufacturers add sugar to 74% of packaged foods sold in supermarkets.¹ You can find added sugar in many foods that you might otherwise think are healthy like yogurt, energy bars, or even spaghetti sauce and salad dressings.
  • According to brain scans, sugar is as addictive as cocaine.

It's true that never before in the history of mankind have we had an emergency need to lower blood sugar. Our bodies are put under a lot of pressure to maintain homeostasis (balance) and when we consume added sugar we are constantly stressing our organs (specifically the liver, pancreas and adrenal glands) to get excess glucose out of our bloodstream. When we consume excessive amounts of sugar it is stored as fat and we gain weight. Ugh.

That said...

 

This post is not intended to scare you or frighten you away from eating ANY sugar EVER. My intention is to educate you so that you can make the best choice for you and your families. Fearing sugar and stressing over it is not healthy behavior and beyond my scope of practice as a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner.

 

So when figuring out how much sugar is too much sugar for you there are two important considerations.

 

First, do you have symptoms of a poor carbohydrate/sugar to fat/protein ratio? Or, in other words, are you experiencing blood sugar imbalance symptoms?

 

When your blood sugar is out of balance you could experience any of the following symptoms:

Sugar cravings
Shaky, jittery, anxious feelings
Unable to go between meals without snacking
Too much or too little energy
Feeling physically full but craving more
Poor, restless sleep
Overly rapid thoughts
Inability to focus
Working out all.the.time. but not losing weight
Mentally sluggish, brain fog
Hypo-apathy, sadness
Hyper-anxiety, irritability, obsessive behavior

Do you experience any of these symptoms regularly?

 
This is not a complete list, but should give you an idea of the types of things to look out for and if you are experiencing these symptoms, acknowledging that feeling and then jotting down the meals and snacks you ate that day.
 
 
Then ask yourself:  Self, did I eat enough healthy protein and fats? Or was it a bagel for breakfast, pretzels for a snack, and a sandwich at lunch and then, did you skip dinner and just have coffee or drinks with friends? Yea...blood sugar definitely out of whack in this scenario.And then repeat that scene day after day and we never give our bodies a break!
 
 

Second, the amount of sugar/carbohydrate each person can tolerate varies by the person.

The only way to really know for certain how your body reacts to certain foods high in sugar and carbohydrate, say a cupcake or bowl of rice, is to test your blood glucose levels using a glucometer. You can purchase a glucometer and test strips at any drug store. Follow the instructions in the box for testing your fasting glucose and if it is above normal, make an appointment to discuss options with your doctor and seriously consider cutting out the sugar and carbs from your diet (cutting back on alcohol consumption is a biggie too!). Here's a handy graph to show you what your fasting glucose levels should be (click the graph for source).

Reading Labels

Processed carbohydrates like pastas, cookies, protein bars, cereal, are all hyper palatable, dense sources of carbs that turn to glucose during digestion. So if you see a label that says 20g of carbohydrate and no sugar, don't be duped. Excess carbohydrate is the same issue.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Any serving OVER 5g of sugar is likely to spike your blood glucose levels (the amount of sugar in your bloodstream), even in a healthy person. But again, everyone is different (bio-individuality).

There are MANY names for sugar. Check the ingredients label FIRST before looking at the nutrition facts. If you see ingredients like syrups, rice extract, anything ending in -tol, -ose, malt, or juice...those are all sugars. The more ingredients listed the more sugar the manufacturer added in to make it look like a bunch of different ingredients when in fact it's just different forms of sugar. Sneaky!

Other considerations:

Please go talk to your doctor. If you have Type 2 diabetes, Hyperglycemia, or Hypoglycemia and you make significant changes to your diet and lifestyle while taking insulin or other prescription medications it is ESSENTIAL that you work with your doctor during this time to monitor your sugar levels.

Don't take this post as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Be aware of your symptoms, educate yourself, and then make an appointment to have your doctor run some blood work.

If you are not satisfied with their analysis and you still feel like crap, try eliminating sugar and processed carbs from your diet for at least 21 days and see how you feel.

YOU are your best wellness advocate and only YOU know how you feel. If avoiding sugar and carbs for the most part gives you more energy, you lose some weight (happy bonus!), you can think clearly again and you have the mental clarity and focus to OWN LIFE. Then keep it up!

Don't fear sugar and processed carbs. Learn how they make you feel and then make the conscious decision to either:

1. ENJOY THE CRAP out of that cupcake or brownie OR
2. Avoid those foods and enjoy the crap out of the 1,000's of other options you have like colorful, nutrient dense vegetables and fruit and delicious and wholesome protein and healthy fats like grass fed, pastured meats and eggs, avocados, butter, and olive oil.

Lastly, as we say in my RESTART classes,

"Whatever I eat, I choose it consciously, enjoy it thoroughly, and then I let it go."

 

Was this helpful? I hope so! Comment below with your questions!

xxxooo,

Carolyn Marotta, NTP

 

P.S. Grab your Healthy Eating on the Go Guide here so that you can kick sugar cravings and restore your energy now, there’s no time to waste.

 

Sources

  1. Sugar Science.org
  2. USDA. “Profiling Food Consumption in America.” United States Department of Agriculture. Sowers, Robert. 2010. http://www.usda.gov/factbook/chapter2.pdf.
  3. The Richmond Institute for Continuing Dental Education http://www.richmondinstitute.com/preventive/u-s-sugar-consumption-a-not-so-sweet-reality