The Perils of Sugar (Sweet Tooth, Beware!)

If I were to choose the one dietary factor that most influences weight loss or gain, it would be sugar.


Sugar is a “sweet” detriment to our health, an insidious stowaway that hides itself in the foods we like to eat and even in foods we consider “healthy.”  I call it a stowaway because most people are unaware of just how much sugar they are consuming on a daily basis. For that matter, most don’t know the recommended amount of sugar they are to consume in a day to begin with!


Here’s what you need to know: When we consume too much sugar, it replaces the healthy nutrient-dense foods we need with empty extra calories that have no nutritional value.  That means you feel “full” without getting the nutrition your body desperately needs… so you’re not motivated to eat the good stuff!


Furthermore, sugar is a major contributor to obesity, diabetes, cardio vascular disease, and some cancers. Excess sugar sends our blood sugar on a rollercoaster ride and causes an overproduction of insulin (the hormone that regulates blood sugar and stores fat).


The American Heart Association recommends 6 teaspoons a day for women and 9 for men.  The average American consumes 22 teaspoons in a day.


The latest statistics show that 1 in 3 Americans IS overweight, which is largely due to our excessive sugar intake.  Let’s do the math:   1 teaspoon of sugar equals 15 calories. If we are consuming 16 extra teaspoons a day, that adds up to 240 empty calories. 240 extra calories multiplied by 7 days/week multiplied by 4 weeks/month multiplied by 12 months/year and divided by 3500 calories (which equals 1 pound) quickly adds up to 23 pounds in one year!  The good news is that the reverse is also true:  Find ways to cut out the excess sugar and you will lose weight.


Become a label reader!  Know what and how much you are consuming.  The sugar grams in a food product are listed under the carbohydrate totals on the nutrition labels. 1 teaspoon of sugar equals 4 grams.  Your goal daily amount would then be 24 grams of sugar for women and 54 grams for men.


One of my clients was shocked when she started reading labels to discover her regular morning bowl of Raisin Bran (which she had considered “healthy”) contained 19 grams of sugar in a SINGLE SERVING – nearly a day’s worth of sugar!


Knowledge is power…we can’t change what we don’t know!



Brenda BobBrenda Bobackack is a Certified Personal Trainer and Cycling Instructor at Harbor Fit. When not teaching classes, Brenda is working one-on-one with clients to help them achieve their fitness goals. She has a special interest in diabetes prevention, nutrition, and women’s health and wellness. You can contact Brenda at

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