We all know that sugar is not good for us. In my practice, many of my clients claim that they don’t eat sugar or sweets or if so, just in small amounts. When we dig deeper though with more specific questions, it turns out that their sugar consumption is actually pretty decent. Tracking our food is not sustainable on the long run, but for a few weeks or months it is extremely helpful. Most people are astonished to see how much more they eat than they think they do.
According to the American Heart Association the maximum amount of added sugar for men is 37.6 g (9 teaspoons) and for women 25 g (6 teaspoons) - and this is already a lot! But an average American consumes 76.7 g (19 teaspoons) sugar a day! And the situation in Europe is not much better either.
When you eat a big portion of ice-cream or a nice piece of cake, you are at least conscious that you are consuming a lot of sugar. But what about some “health”-foods which you choose because you think they are good for you?
Let’s look at a few examples of the most common high-sugar foods and drinks that people consume without even knowing and understanding it?
1. Fruit juice - a typical example is a freshly pressed orange juice. Many people still think that this is healthy because it is fresh and doesn’t contain added sugar. But what does it contain in reality? Let’s see! According to https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/fruits-and-fruit-juices/1971/2 1 cup (2.5 dl) fresh orange juice contains 20 g of sugar! And as it is in a liquid form that is absorbed in the bloodstream immediately. Juices are REFINED carbohydrates, not whole foods. Blood sugar and insulin spikes and excess calories coming from fruit juice are as bad and damaging as when they come from refined sugar.
2. “High-protein” Energy Bars - there are differences in sugar content between these products, but all of them contain high amounts of sugar. Even if they do have zero added sugar, their sugar content coming from dates or other dried fruit and/or honey is still plentiful. These protein bars can contain anywhere between 20g to 80 g sugar or even more.
3. Smoothies - how about this trendy superfood? It can be made only from fruit, mixed fruits and vegetables, or fruits, vegetables and added nuts and seeds. Let’s take as an example the sugar content of smoothies made with one mango and a banana (only these two, no added sugar or other ingredients). One portion contains 65 g sugar! This is three times more than the recommended daily intake. One big problem with smoothies is that even if they contain the whole fruit, as their structure is broken, their sugar content is absorbed immediately, causing a huge insulin spike, which leads to many different health problems on the long term, like insulin resistance, obesity and inflammation.
4. “Healthy” oat porridge with fresh banana and dates - this is a popular breakfast amongst health-conscious people. But why is it healthy exactly? At least regarding its sugar content, it is like a candy bar. One serving oats contain 46.9 g starches (complex sugar), one banana 14.4 g sugar and 1 date 16 g sugar. This high-carbohydrate breakfast (when the oats are cooked in water) contains almost no fat. The protein content of the fruit is almost non existant. One portion of oats contain 10.6 g protein, but it is not a complete protein. Oat prolamins contain low amounts of basic amino acids and they are high in glutamic acid and proline.
5. Ready salad dressings - having a salad for lunch is the healthiest thing we can have - or is it? It really depends what we put in our salad. What kind of greens do we choose? Are they seasonal and grown outside in the sun without pesticides and fertilisers? Are they low in anti-nutrients such as oxalates and lectins? In most cases, they are not, so their nutritional value is close to zero but they still cause bloating and other digestive distress. What other ingredients are in your salad? And how about the dressing? Do you put fried bacon and bacon grease, organic olive oil and lemon juice or do you use a ready-made salad dressing? What are the ingredients in those dressings? A typical, commonly-sold Italian dressing contains 3 g sugar per serving. In addition it contains soybean oil, distilled vinegar, xanthan gum, propylene glycol alginate, sorbic acid and calcium disodium edta (used to protect quality), yeast extract, natural flavour - just to mention a few. It sounds really healthy, doesn’t it?
So what is the conclusion? My advice to you is to avoid added but also natural sugar as much as possible. Read all labels and don’t buy foods with any added sugar. But beyond that, make sure you know how much natural sugar your food contains. Remember you shouldn’t consume more that 20 g sugar a day, including, grains, fruits and processed foods.
I recommend you to eat real food instead. I am convinced that an animal-based ketogenic diet - PKD - is the best choice to stay healthy and fit, and to treat and prevent disease.
If you are stuck and need guiding in loosing weight, getting rid of chronic pain and regaining your health, contact me. I am here to help you!