Added sugars are ubiquitous in modern diets and lurk in many unexpected foods that we believe are otherwise healthy. That said, we often eat the sweet stuff and don’t even know it.
The fact is, 80 percent of the 600,000 packaged foods in the U.S. have added sugar, according to Dr. Robert Lustig, Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics, Department of Endocrinology, University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). And here’s another sugar shocker: The American Heart Association (AHA) estimates that Americans consume over 110 pounds (or about 22 five-pound bags) of sugar a year. If you cut that down to the daily level, we̵
The side effects of added sugars
Science shows that consuming added sugar in large quantities can destroy our bodies over time. Both the AHA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that the added sugar in sodas, baked goods, and other processed foods is likely to be responsible for the increase in calorie consumption and the subsequent increase in obesity in American adults and children is the last few decades.
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, approximately two-thirds of Americans today are overweight or obese. That’s not even the worst: In addition to its association with obesity, excessive sugar consumption has been linked to much more serious health conditions such as food addiction, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, tooth decay, insulin resistance, high triglycerides, fatty liver and heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
Daily recommendation for added sugar
It’s important to note that the big no-no to your health is the sugar that is added for food and beverages during preparation or processing. Naturally occurring sugars – those found in small amounts in fruits, vegetables, and milk – aren’t the problem. These foods contain important nutrients or are often high in fiber (or are often combined with high fiber foods), which slows the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream.
The AHA recommends that women add a maximum of 6 teaspoons (24 grams) of sugar per day. Men should stop at 9 teaspoons (36 grams). If you have health problems that are affected by sugar consumption, it is best to minimize or eliminate the added sugar completely.
Added sugar in sports drinks
With all of these cool commercials featuring famous athletes devouring colorful creations, sports drinks are a marketer’s dream – and we buy them. According to the latest statistics, Americans drink more than 5 gallons of neon sports drink per capita per year.
Not to be confused with caffeinated energy drinks (like Red Bull or Monster). Non-caffeinated sports drinks contain nutrients designed to help you achieve a superior workout while staying hydrated.
The big sales of sports drinks are electrolytes (sodium, potassium, magnesium) that are added to replace the minerals lost in sweating. But the carbohydrates in many popular sports drinks are nothing but sugar, which is fine in cases where you need sustained energy for activities like running a marathon but are less than ideal as a regular exercise hydrator.
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Here are some facts about sports drinks:
- The most popular brands of sports drinks contain more than twice the daily recommended amount of sugar.
- According to numerous studies, the added nutrients in sports drinks are only effective if you exercise intensely for over an hour.
- According to the University of Illinois Extension, the sugar found in sports drinks delays the absorption of fluids, which slows down hydration.
- These sugary drinks contain a hearty serving of calories. For the casual athlete, this means you are drinking more calories than you are burning.
Don’t let the nutrition on the label fool you, as many sports drinks only list the numbers for an 8 or 12 ounce serving. That’s far less than the whole bottle – which you will most likely gobble up while exercising. If you want a fitness water with no sugar (or no calories) check out these four options:
You can also dilute your favorite sports drink with water to cut the sugar, or get more serious with these simple ideas.
1. Try “fitness water” for a quick workout. Slightly sweetened or not sweetened at all, these designer waters contain electrolytes and offer flavor if you’re not crazy about stale water. (Avoid carbonated water as the blisters can cause an upset stomach.)
2. get milk? According to a study at McMaster University, low-fat milk is a better option than a sports drink or water as a source of high-quality protein, carbohydrates, calcium, and electrolytes, especially for children. Try low-fat chocolate milk after your workout to replenish essential carbohydrates as well as protein.
3. Refuel with food. Avocados, bananas, beans, leafy green vegetables, nuts, and seeds are high in electrolytes. Nibble on it and drink from the tap and you can get started before or after your workout.
This article was extracted from Sugar Shock: The hidden sugar in your food and over 100 smart swaps to reduce it. Copyright © 2020. Published by Hearst Home, Reprinted from Hearst Books / Hearst Magazine Media, Inc.
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