Sugar: Just Say No

Ever feel like you should be able to do things in the gym that you cannot seem to do yet? Be able to move outside the gym and feel better, recover faster? Have you led yourself to believe that because you focus on exercise that your diet doesn’t need as much attention? Do you reward yourself with sugary drinks or food because you feel you deserve it?

If you admit to yourself that the answer is yes to any of these, it may be time to take time to look at where your sugar intake is coming from and how it is affecting you.

Added sugar can be found in nearly every processed food you can think of. It is in soups, breads, yogurts, salad dressings, deli meats, the list goes on. It also, sneakily, goes by at least 61 different names on food labels. Some of these are dextrose, maltose, sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, barley malt, agave, molasses, etcetera. The World Health Organization recommends that (for a 2,000 calorie diet) you consume no more than 25 grams of sugar a day (although ideally we would consume zero ADDED sugar). The average American consumes 82 grams each day. That is about 66 pounds of added sugar a year per person.

Check out this more in depth list of sugar names:

Also, here are some ideas that can help you avoid eating too much sugar. Drink plenty of water throughout the day, being dehydrated can make you think you are hungry and cause cravings. Try replacing “deserts” with dark chocolate and/or berries. Slowly remove sugary additions from your coffee, retrain your tastebuds. Read the ingredients, not only the grams of sugar, on nutritional labels to find out where any sugar is coming from.

Unfortunately, the more sugar you consume, the more sugar you want. It can leave you feeling hungry, decreasing the hormone that tells your brain you are full, and tricking you into eating more. With this hormone, called leptin, being decreased we may feel more sluggish. Therefore, making it more difficult to be active and healthy. More commonly known sugar can lead to crashes, giving us quick energy and then causing us to becoming foggy and plummet.

There is a reason we struggle with sugar consumption in our environment today. In the past sugar was not as easy to get. Even natural sugar was only in season for a few months out of the year. We have now made it overly accessible and are struggling with the effects. “You cannot exercise away a bad diet,” CrossFit Founder and CEO Greg Glassman states. “The meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, no sugar component is critical.”

Back to the original questions at the start of this read, if you think you could be performing better in life, try reducing your sugar intake. See how this makes you feel, physically, and mentally. We do not have to obsess or make ourselves miserable, we only need to be mindful and aware.

Do you want help getting dialed in on your nutrition? Check out our nutrition coaching program!