Did you know that in 2012, the average American consumed about 130 pounds of sugar in one year or that the average American adult was consuming 22 teaspoons of sugar per day? It gets worse though, the average American child was consuming a whopping 32 teaspoons of sugar per day!
Now that I’ve caught your attention, here’s why you might want to reconsider the amount of sugar you consume on a daily basis.
I’ve typically had an interest in health and fitness, but over the past few years I have become stricter with my exercising and eating habits. For 12 years I have been a vegetarian (just recently transitioned to vegan) so I am able to avoid a lot of the fats that come along with meat. Because of the fact that I don’t eat meat, I have been more mindful to cut back on my carb intake as vegetarians/vegans can sometimes go overboard with carbs. I go to the gym at least 5-6 days out of the week to do heavy lifting, cardio, or yoga. I primarily drink water or plain hot tea. So you would think that I would have the most fit and toned body right? I thought so too! So when I noticed that my progress started to plateau and that I still had that pesky little pudge of belly fat, I decided that I needed to do some research. There are plenty of diet fads, pills, and wraps out there that claim they will give you the desirable flat belly of your dreams. Those are quick “fixes” and I don’t buy into that junk (and you shouldn’t either). There’s no quick fix to getting rid of belly fat. I personally think it is one of the hardest things to get rid of when it comes to fat on the body. Trust me, it doesn’t matter how many ab workouts you do if you have a few inches of fat covering it up. When I would flex in the mirror I could see some definition coming in, but I still have the excess fat hiding it otherwise. I’ve heard and read so many times that,
Abs are 70% made in the kitchen and 30% made in the gym.
Pinterest is my online heaven, so naturally I looked up “get rid of belly fat” there and found some posts about some natural ways. There of course were articles about cutting out fatty foods, but I’m usually pretty good about watching the fat content in what I eat. I knew that there had to be something that I was currently eating that was possibly hindering my belly fat loss. Somehow I came across some posts focused on eliminating foods high in sugar (specifically refined sugar) versus eliminating foods high in fat. How crazy is that? Most people see the word fat and think that if they want to lose fat off their bodies, then they need to get “non-fat” everything. In reality most non-fat items are high in sugar whereas low-fat is a better option instead.
So why is sugar such a villain when it comes to belly fat?
“…if sugar calories are not used as energy shortly after they are consumed, however, they are converted into stored body fat by a process known as lipogenesis.”
Source: “Does Sugar Turn Into Fat?” from Livestrong.com
I encourage you to read that article in it’s entirety because it is very informational and eye opening.
If you look at nutrition labels on the foods you buy, you’ll probably notice that there is not a percent daily value for sugar because there is not a set healthy amount of sugar we should intake. That does not mean we get to consume an unlimited amount of sugar either.
Maybe you’re thinking, “But I don’t even like sweets or candy!” Surprise! There’s sugar in some types of breads, ketchup, peanut butter, chips, processed foods, even “Emergen-C” powder has sugar. Refined sugar is everywhere! So after reading both the articles I mentioned above, I decided to see what the maximum amount of refined sugar I can intake on a daily basis. Like I said before, there is not a set amount deemed as acceptable on food labels, so there are different ideas of what is acceptable. I primarily found though that as a female I should not consume more than 25 grams of sugar per day (for men it is higher at 37.5 grams).
That started my sugar tracking journey two weeks ago. My goal each day was/is to consume 25 grams or less of processed or refined sugar. I do not count fresh fruits in my sugar tracking as those are natural sugars. However, it’s still not a great idea to just consume 29 apples because it’s a fruit! In my planner, I record down the grams of sugar and what I ate, then I total it. There have been a few days that I have gone slightly over or I was unsure of the amount of sugar because it was something that I purchased without any nutritional information(for example the frozen yogurt I enjoyed last Friday). Even though I’ve gone over a few days, most of the time I am right at 25 grams or even under.
Click here for a Sugar Intake Tracker PDF Download that I created.
I thought this would be really difficult because even though I eat fairly healthy, I L-O-V-E sweets and desserts. However, I H-A-T-E the
belly fat. So, it’s all mind over matter.
What do you truly want more? The short-term taste and indulgence or the long-term physique that you busted your butt to obtain?
My hands are up for the second choice! With that being said, I have actually found it to be a lot easier than I expected. I have become more aware of what I am putting in my body and I truly am seeing gradual results. I’ve noticed that I can see more of the muscle coming through with less flexing effort. Again, nothing
will happen over night, but consistency is key. I’m sure if I continue with this and with my intense workouts, I will be where I want to be in a few months. Plus, I feel better and less guilty about over doing it with junk food or sweets like I would have done in the past. Instead of just taking something that is offered to me, I consider whether it’s worth it or not. If I am planning on eating half of a Complete Cookie (these are delicious and vegan, but have 30 grams of sugar per cookie) after dinner, then I need to make sure I’ve allotted those 15 grams for the end of the day as I’m eating throughout the day.
So you don’t have to cut out sugar completely unless you truly want to, and props to you if you decide to travel that path. Just be more mindful of what you consume and it starts to become a lifestyle habit.
Here’s a challenge for you: track your sugar intake for a week. Take a picture of your tracking and post it on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #ChooseYourLifestyle so I can see! It’s so much easier to accomplish goals when you have people on the same page as you.
*Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, physician, dietitian, or have any sort of health degree. I just have an interest in health and nutrition. Please consult a physician should you have any major health issues or concerns!