Monday, May 14, 2012

Sugar: Toxic?

There are many news stories floating around saying that sugar is toxic and to blame for every extra pound that Americans are carrying around. Many of the authors argue that if people replaced the sugar with fat, they'd be fine. They never say if there is a point where it does come back to calories, or not. Their argument, if extended would say that even if you only consume 800 calories a day, but all in sugar, you'd gain weight, but if you consumed 3,800 calories a day without sugar, you would maintain or lose weight.

I think they're trying to oversimplify things. Many of us consume a huge portion of our daily calories from sugar,  much of that in the form of added sugar to beverages. Beverages don't fill us up the way solid food does. The exception is milk, which our body digests differently than soda or juice. It's not the sugar that is toxic by itself, it's the over consumption of sugar and all other calories. For many people, cutting out the sugary drinks may lower their total daily calorie intake to a healthy level.

One 20 ounce bottle of soda contains 65 grams of sugar, which is about 15 teaspoons. That is more than double the amount the American Heart Association recommends for women. It's also 260 calories with no nutrition to go with them. Someone who runs 12 minute miles and weighs 130 pounds needs to run more than 30 minutes to balance that out. That's thirty minutes to negate the calories in a bottle of soda. It hardly seems worth it. If you want to see a good visual representation of how much sugar is in soda, check this site.

I am not saying that everyone should shun sugar, corn syrup, honey, maple syrup or other items that are basically sugar. Just watch your total calorie intake and cut out the low-hanging fruit. If you can cut 260 calories a day without feeling hungry, why not do that? If you can get a spaghetti sauce that doesn't have added sugar and unnecessary calories, why not buy that one? Read your labels carefully and choose what you eat and drink only after having all the information.

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