Sugar is a hot topic. Some camps say that a little bit of sugar can be part of a healthy lifestyle, and others insist that it's not healthy at all. But what does the science say?
Here, we'll explore the question: how much sugar is okay to consume?
What the medical community says
Different organizations have different guidelines for sugar consumption.
The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting calories from added sugars to no more than 10% each day. Based on a 2000 calorie diet, that’s roughly 12 teaspoons a day.
The American Heart Association (AHA)’s recommendations are a little different. Men should consume no more than 150 calories of added sugar per day, and women should stay under 100 calories of sugar per day. For reference, one can of soda contains almost as much as the daily limit for men, and more than the daily limit for women.
But, do you want the side effects of having even that much? Any amount of sugar can affect your moods and confuse your body’s appetite control mechanisms, causing you to eat more. Plus, sugar can be addictive.
Doctors often suggest that diabetics keep their sugar intake lower to make their condition easier to manage.
People who follow ketogenic diets, either for weight management, to control epilepsy, or for other reasons, tend to avoid sugars altogether in order to keep net carbs low.
It’s important to note that there’s no organization that recommends a certain amount of sugar that you must eat to be healthy. We cannot say for sure, but we suspect that if you told your doctor you were giving up sugar entirely, you would be met with nothing but encouragement. Why not try giving up sugar completely? It’s easier than you might think.
Is moderate sugar consumption safe, or is too much sugar harmful?
This study found that consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages could be linked to death from cardiovascular disease, and the risk increased with the amount of sugary beverages consumed.
Your body doesn’t need added sugar to live. You can eat a normal diet without sugar and not miss out on any nutrients that you need for optimal functioning. You do need glucose to live, which is sugar in your bloodstream, but you can get that from eating meals that contain healthy carbohydrates. You never need to seek out added sugar.
What happens when you eat excess sugar
When you consume sugar, it almost immediately enters your bloodstream and gets delivered to your cells for energy. Energy is a good thing, right?
Yes, until your cells start to say no thanks, we're all fueled up here. Send this extra sugar (glucose) shipment to storage.
So first, your body stores sugar in your liver and in your muscles as glycogen, which is the storage version of glucose.
And what if you've stored as much glycogen as your liver and muscles can store? You have a secondary storage system: body fat.
We're well aware that most people don't like to store fuel this way.
When the glucose in your bloodstream is used up and your body needs more fuel, it first releases glycogen, your stored glucose. And you have to burn through all of your glycogen in order to tap into your body fat stores for energy.
If you don't eat sugar, you don't have as much sugar in storage, you'll get through your blood glucose and glycogen a lot faster than you would if you eat sugar and have sugar in storage.
It's important to note that carbohydrates readily turn into glucose through digestion and goes through the same process. So if you're eating a lot of sugar or a lot of carbs, you probably have a decent amount of sugar in reserves.
It’s also worth a mention that exercise uses up glucose. If you’re generally sedentary, you’re not burning through your stored glucose as quickly as you would if you exercised a lot.
How to minimize your sugar intake
As of now, we can't say with 100% certainty what amount of sugar is harmful to your health. Our best guess is that it's different for everyone. What affects you might not affect your neighbor or your spouse the same way.
We do know that people who successfully give up sugar, either for a time period or forever, most often do not regret it. After an initial withdrawal period, they claim to enjoy increased energy and fewer cravings, and sometimes cutting sugar clears up long-standing health issues.
The best thing we can suggest is to give a no-sugar month a try. If anything, you'll see what you're made of. Plus, you may find that you feel better than you did on the sweet stuff.
And, with the right products on hand, you can satisfy your sweet tooth during your no-sugar experiment. Check out the full line of monk fruit sweetened cookies, muffins, syrups, and baking items here.