Whenever I’m talking to someone about his or her diet, one of the first things I ask about is sugar intake. Many people have no idea how much sugar they are consuming daily.
An easy way to find out is to download any calorie tracker and input your food intake for the day. Ideally, your sugar intake number should be somewhere between 40 to 60 grams per day, depending on your sex, activity level and body composition goals. The American Heart Association recommends limiting intake even further: 25 grams or 100 calories per day for women and 35 grams or 150 calories per day for men.
Excess sugar can cause your body to hold onto fat (especially at your midline), leave you feeling hungrier because of a spike in insulin levels and lead to a barrage of chronic illness down the line (high blood pressure and heart disease).
When carbohydrates (aka sugar) enter your bloodstream, your body releases insulin, which stimulates blood cells to convert sugar to energy. Timing high-carb foods around the window of your workout can be beneficial in delaying fatigue, allowing you to exercise for longer and promoting recovery.
Unlike fat and protein, sugar is broken down by the body right away. Unless you are a competitive athlete working out six hours per day, there is no reason to increase your sugar intake. Time your high-carb snack or meal (30 to 60 grams) one to three hours before a workout to promote fat loss and body composition changes.
These macronutrients will be used by the body first, as glucose is absorbed directly into the bloodstream. Some of my favorite high-carb snacks not mentioned on the list below include rice cakes with jam, oats, Kodiak Cakes and Ezekiel bread.
Next time you reach for a snack, think about these common items that could be bringing excess sugar into your diet and could be contributing to a performance plateau or regression.