Sugar - but we used to be friends?

Sugar has turned into a major focal point of the health industry over the last 10 years.  With good reason – excess consumption has been linked to:


  • Obesity. Why?  4 main reasons –


  • a) sugar is quickly consumed.  Fruit juice, soft drinks, cake, sweets, added sugars, biscuits etc are all eaten quickly with little fibre to slow things down, and with very little nutritional quality (vitamins and minerals).  


  • b) Fullness.  Sugar will not fill you up, so you can over consume.  


  • c) Leptin – this hormone tells you to stop eating!  Too much sugar will stop this hormone working properly, meaning you’ll just keep going!  Bad news.  


  • d)  Insulin – when sugar flushes into the bloodstream, the hormone insulin is released, which essentially is a storage hormone, it comes along and moves things into storage, to get the blood sugar level back to normal.  When your insulin levels are elevated, you also store more fat.  Excessive insulin levels are linked to weight gain.  People who are losing weight typically have lower insulin levels.  This is why High Protein diets work, they promote stable insulin levels so the body can remove fat from storage, rather than move fat into storage.  


Other Issues:


  • Diminished brain power and ageing of cells.  High sugar consumption has been shown to have negative effects on cognitive function, and general ageing of cells.  Populations around the world that have natural diets and low sugar intakes, have more robust older people, with clearer thinking and healthier lives.


  • Liver disease.  High sugar intake damages the liver cells.  Quickly.  


  • Cancer.  High sugar intakes are linked with certain cancers.  Excessive sugar can equal cancer?  That’s a good enough reason for me to reduce my intake, as my family has had many cancer patients.  


  • Abdominal obesity.  High sugar intake promotes belly fat specifically.  Worse still, it’s the visceral type, around the organs.  


  • Heart Disease.  Not only will obesity place stress on your heart, a high sugar intake has been linked with heart muscle problems as well.  



  • Dental Disease.  



Sugar has no nutrients, no protein, no healthy fatty acids, and no value to us as a being at all.  In fact, digesting sugar takes valuable nutrients out of your body, so it’s worse than nothing.  


When sugar intake spiked in the 1970’s, so did obesity.  Our planet is now rife with obesity, and sugar clearly has played a large role in this.  

Suffice to say, in my coaching practice and also work of my friends in the health industry, cutting down someone’s sugar intake has the single greatest effect on health and weight loss bar none.  


It’s so effective that in many cases I just advise people to find out WHERE their sugar is in their diet, and that process alone results in significant weight loss because once people find out where it IS, they reduce it down of their own accord.  


Key learning point:  Cutting down your sugar intake is the single greatest thing you can do to improve your health and body composition (fat v muscle).


Where is it hiding?


Most adults in Western countries eat way too much added sugar.  In New Zealand, the average Male eats around 120g of added sugar per day, and the average Female around 96g.  Recommendations are for around 25g per adult, perhaps a little more for men with higher calorie requirements, but still – we need to cut it down a long way before the health and weight of the population improves.


By Sugar, we mean all sugars added by the manufacturer, cook, or consumer – including sugars present in juices, sauces, concentrates, syrups, and honey.  Sugar naturally occuring in milk whole fruit does not count as it is digested differently and the benefits of the other nutrients in those foods outweighs the negatives from the sugar.  ANYWAY – we mostly mean foods like:


  • soft drinks
  • fruit juice
  • sauces
  • syrups
  • cakes
  • added table sugar
  • biscuits
  • sweets / lollies
  • many breakfast cereals
  • sports drinks
  • cereal bars
  • flavoured milk
  • drink powders eg milo
  • jams and preserves
  • canned and dried fruit
  • ice cream / smoothies / fruit yoghurt


Names to look for:


Sugar can be called many things in food ingredient lists – rest assured it’s still sugar and still has the same effects.


Watch out for –


  • sucrose
  • barley malt
  • beet sugar
  • brown sugar
  • buttered syrup
  • cane-juice crystals
  • cane sugar
  • caramel
  • carob syrup
  • corn syrup
  • corn syrup solids
  • date sugar
  • dextran
  • dextrose
  • diatase
  • diastatic malt
  • ethyl maltol
  • fructose
  • fruit juice
  • fruit juice concentrate
  • glucose
  • glucose solids
  • golden sugar
  • golden syrup
  • grape sugar
  • high-fructose corn syrup
  • honey
  • invert sugar
  • lactose
  • malt syrup
  • maltodextrin
  • maltose
  • mannitol
  • molasses
  • raw sugar
  • refiner’s syrup
  • sorbitol
  • sorghum syrup
  • sucrose
  • sugar
  • turbinado sugar
  • yellow sugar

Get the picture?  You need to go on a personal mission to discover where it is in YOUR diet, and work on it.  


SO – ideally you are aiming for LESS than 30g for a male, and 25g for a female to really obtain peak physical health and reduce risk of health issues.  

How Much Sugar are YOU having?


Use the form below to calculate your sugar intake.  Once you have an idea of what your present intake is, work on it slowly, aiming to reduce it by about 10% per week if you can, it’s a hard process but is very achievable if approached slowly but with long term success in mind.


soft drink – does not include diet drinks ( 1 can  =  9 teaspoons) ……….  

fruit juice (glass of orange/ apple juice 4-5 teaspoons) ……….

breakfast cereal / muesli (with  dried fruit or added sugar 2-4 tsp per serve) ………              

yogurt with added sugar (3 tsp per 200 ml tub) ………

sugar added (to tea, coffee, anything) ………

dried fruit (mini pack of sultanas 6 tsp) ……….

chocolate/ sweets (Mars Bar 7 tsp, 125gm block of chocolate 14 tsp) ……….

dessert/ ice cream (2–4 tsp per serve) ………

honey and jams (1–2 tsp per serve) ……….

tomato sauce, BBQ sauce, mayonnaise etc (1 – 2 tsp per serve) ……….

sweet biscuits (Scotch Finger 1 tsp,TimTam 2 tsp) / slice of cake (2 tsp) ……….

alcohol (is fermented sugar, equivalent to 3 tspns per standard drink) ………

other foods based on nutrition panels on packet……..

YOUR ESTIMATED TOTAL  ………….teaspoons per day


multiply teaspoons number by 5 to estimate your total sugar intake in grams per day.  
Total Sugar Intake…….

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