Ever have a time when you are working out insanely hard. Watching your calories and trying to lose weight, yet still after weeks of 5 am pain inducing workouts, your weight loss is basically negligible?
There are lots of factors that could cause a weight loss plateau or even cause the scale to go in the wrong direction, but one of those things could be that you aren’t eating as clean as you think you are.
Even if you are reading the labels, watching your portions and trying to burn extra calories, you could still be unknowingly sabotaging yourself and that’s because:
Spotting Hidden Sugar is Hard
We know that manufacturers order the ingredients on the list based on the amount of the ingredient in the product. So if a product has more water than sugar, then water is listed as the first ingredient. So reading the label is a good way to see what we are dealing with. But manufacturers are a little sneaky.
They know we are looking for out for sugar so instead, they use one, two or 3 of the different names for sugar.
According to the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, added sugars can be known under the under the following names:
Anhydrous dextrose, brown sugar, cane crystals, cane sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, crystal dextrose, evaporated cane juice, fructose sweetener, fruit juice concentrates, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, liquid fructose, malt syrup, maple syrup, molasses, pancake syrup, raw sugar, sugar, syrup and white sugar
And since each one is in different concentrations they are able to list each one separately. So you could have 5 different kinds of sugar listed in the ingredients sections, but it does not show up as the first ingredient because the sum is greater than each individually. Pretty sneaky huh.
Going Overboard in Super Easy
Much like anything, taking that ingredient in extremes is a recipe for disaster so we all know that sugar tastes great, but in excess is really bad for our health. But did anyone ever tell how much sugar is considered excess?
Well, the American Heart Association recommends most American women eat to no more than 100 calories per day of added sugar (six teaspoons or 20 grams) and no more than 150 calories per day for men (or about nine teaspoons or 36 grams).
What does that look like? I’m glad you asked!
- Snickers bar (52.7 grams) – 6.75 teaspoons of sugar
- Coca-Cola (one can) – 8.25 teaspoons of sugar
- Honey Nut Cheerios – 8.25 teaspoons of sugar
- Muffin (one chocolate chip muffin) – 4.75 teaspoons of sugar
- Krispy Kreme (original glazed doughnut) – 3 teaspoons (10grams) of sugar
- Sweet Baby Ray (1 tbsp barbeque sauce)- 6 grams of sugar
So you could have 1 Coke or a Snickers bar and blow your amount of recommended added sugar! And it gets worse.
Label Reading can be hard
We know we should read the package to look for the ingredient list, and the quantity of the nutrient and substance in each serving but many of us reading and fully understanding the label can be very hard. Even when we rightly determine that the amount of sugar, we can forget that that value is per serving and may not be for the whole container.
Take the following FDA sample label and the correct way to read a nutritional label.
Per the FDA we should “Pay attention to the serving size, especially how many servings there are in the food package. Then ask yourself, “How many servings am I consuming”? (e.g., 1/2 serving, 1 serving, or more) In the sample label, one serving of macaroni and cheese equals one cup. If you ate the whole package, you would eat two cups. That doubles the calories and other nutrient numbers, including the %Daily Values as shown in the sample label.”
I always read section 3 for just information. I never knew the expectation was to limit my intake of these. Furthermore, many of us don’t journal every single item that passes through our lips.
So this serving may have only 5grams of sugar, but add it to the other 25grams of sugar I have had throughout the day and suddenly I’m overboard.
We can’t trust the label
Even when you manage to read the label correctly, we might still end up with wrong information as calorie counting as the current system is currently flawed and the FDA legally allows calorie labels to be off by as much as 20% so that 2,310 calories, 4,370 mg of sodium and 79grams of saturated fat Pasta Napoletana could really have hundreds more calories and still be following the law. Researchers have even found where calories on restaurant menus can be off.
Not so hot if you are measuring your calories precisely to stay under the wire and avoid an extra work out.
That could have been a whole extra meal.
For me, I knew I wasn’t working hard to eat super clean, but I was staying well under my daily caloric burn and I was avoiding cakes and pastries but it wasn’t until I realized the above information that my efforts were being thwarted left, right and center even with an average diet.
But now we know better. We know what to look for, and we know what we can trust.
I use this information to re-ignite my passion for making healthy lifestyle choices. Whenever I want to get comfortable, I think on these things and get pissed off enough to want to do better.
I hope it does the same for you!