6 Signs You Might Be Eating Too Much Sugar
If sitting is the new smoking, sugar may be the new sitting. But why should you really be mindful of not eating too much sugar?
Over the last few years, researchers have been building a case against sugar, and finding many adverse effects against consuming too much of the sweet stuff. For example, a 2016 study showed a positive connection in children between cutting back on sugar and heart health.
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Here are a few signals your body might be sending to let you know you’ve been eating too much sugar.
1. You feel like a zombie.
You wake up tired, so you instinctively grab a vanilla latte. But soon after, you’re even sleepier. What gives? “Feeling tired all the time is a common sign of eating too much added sugar,” says Rachael Hartley, R.D., L.D., C.D.E., C.L.T..
Studies show that elevated levels of sugar can block orexin, a neurochemical that makes you feel awake. So although we chow down on sugary treats to feel energized, the reality is they’re turning us into mindless undead brain gluttons.
2. You can’t focus.
Ever chugged soda like a beer bong to power a pre-exam all-nighter yet noticed your brain only getting foggier? You may have banked on the caffeine for concentration without budgeting for the counteractive effects of sugar.
A 2016 study in the British Journal of Nutrition of more than 7,000 adults linked higher sugar intake with a decline in cognitive function. “The study didn’t determine whether excessive sugar consumption caused a lack of brain power or a lack of brain power caused excessive sugar consumption,” says author Michele Promaulayko in Sugar Free 3. “Either way, less-sharp people tended to eat too much sugar.”
3. Your digestion sucks.
Your gut contains trillions of bacteria, which aid digestion, help modulate your immune system, and assist the fight against pathogens. While science is only starting to understand most of these gut flora, one thing it has figured out: they don’t thrive on sugar.
A recent report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences showed that heavy doses of fructose and glucose (which, combined, make sucrose, a.k.a. “table sugar”) can block growth of a bacterium often found in the guts of people who maintain a balanced diet and a healthy weight. “Simply put: It helps you digest dietary fiber properly,” Promaulayko says.
4. You’re moody.
Feeling grumpy or on edge for no reason? Surprisingly, sugar — which gives us pleasure when we eat it — can negatively impact our mood when we overdo it.
“Both depression and anxiety are linked to added sugar intake,” says Hartley. A 2017 study published in the journal Scientific Reports found that people who ate a diet higher in sugar were 23 percent more likely to be depressed.
5. You can’t seem to stop eating added sugar.
If you crave the sweet stuff and just can’t seem to get enough, it’s a sign you may eating too much sugar. Constant sugar cravings are the most common sign of overconsumption, Poling says. Do you crave sugary or ‘carbolicious’ treats throughout the day? If so, chances are, you are addicted to sugar. Unfortunately, the more you eat, the more you’ll crave.
How much sugar is too much? The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than 100 calories (6 teaspoons) daily from added sugar, and men should limit that amount to 150 calories (9 teaspoons). “That’s about one soda’s worth,” says Kristen Arnold, R.D.N., L.D., M.S. “If you’re eating more than what’s in that, that’s too much.”
6. Your weight loss has stalled.
All calories are not created equal, and Poling says a diet that tips heavily toward sweets can cause weight loss to stall out. If you’re having a hard time shedding pounds, she suggests looking at macronutrient balance. “A diet high in refined carbs and sugar and low in fat can keep on excess weight,” she says.
If you’re starting to worry you’re eating too much sugar, Hartley offers this advice: “Moderate amounts of added sugar are not harmful to health and helps make eating a balanced, healthy diet more pleasurable — think honey drizzled over plain yogurt, maple syrup in your favorite homemade energy bar, or regular sugar in your famous recipe for chocolate chip cookies.” So start small and cut back slowly.