If you saw on my Instagram (@sarahmradcliff), I posted last week asking you guys to comment some popular nutrition beliefs that are out there that may or may not be true. This was an exercise we did in class and if 10 nutrition grad students could come up with 40 different nutrition topics that are popular in the media, I figured I should touch on a few popular ones! This week’s post is all about sugar.
“Sugar Makes You Fat”
This is a highly discussed topic. And while I do not recommend having a diet high in sugar, let me shed some light on why you don’t have to avoid all things sugar to lose weight.
Now, I know tons of people swear by cutting out sugar for weight loss, and I am sure they most likely see the results they are looking for at first. Why? Well, high-sugar foods are typically high in calories and fat, or not very filling for the amount of calories (such as hard candies). For example, if you eat 300 calories worth of sour gummy worms, jolly ranchers, or skittles, you will probably get sick of the sweet taste before you actually feel “full.” This may cause you to go start eating something savory to either cleanse your palette, or actually feel satisfied. Whereas, if you eat 300 calories worth of chicken and potatoes, you will probably start to feel full quicker and not need to eat again for a couple hours. Essentially, some of these high sugar foods could be leaving you hungry, causing you to eat more in order to feel satisfied.
Sugar is also going to be found in your foods like cookies, donuts, cakes, brownies, and so on. One large donut has about 300 calories, 18 grams of sugar, and 15-20 grams of fat. One subway chocolate chip cookie has about 220 calories, 18 grams of sugar, and 12 grams of fat. As you can see, these foods which are relatively small, easy to eat, and lack any nutritional value, are high in sugar as well as calories and fat. When people lose weight from cutting out sugar, they are most likely cutting out EXCESS carbs, fat, and calories, which could bring them into a calorie deficit and result in weight loss!
If you want to cut out sugar, that’s fine. However, do not feel like you HAVE to cut out all sugar all the time to lose weight. Some people go to extremes and even cut out fruits and carrots due to their “high sugar content.” Here is the issue with cutting out fruit and some vegetables… Not only are they already low in calories; but they contain fiber, vitamins, and minerals that are essential in our diet! Do not demonize sugar as the bane of all our existence. Demonizing sugar means putting a label on sugar as being “bad.” Once we start labeling foods as “good” or “bad,” it’s easy to experience food guilt when we do consume those “bad” foods. Simply just starting to cut back is going to help.
Instead of having a 300 calorie latte everyday, that is just empty calories, maybe just cut back a couple and try regular coffee a few days a week.
Instead of eating a pint of Ben and Jerry’s every night, maybe cut back to 2 or 3 nights.
Instead of having a donut for breakfast that is going to keep you satisfied for all of 30 minutes before you need to eat again, try whole wheat toast and some eggs.
If you are eating enough protein, fiber, and getting your vitamins and minerals, having some sugar is not going to derail your goals.
I’m going to be covering a different “nutrition myth” in each post! Be on the look out for the next one. Let me know if this was helpful!