By Teri Tenseth Market
Miracle Noodle Ambassador and Personal Trainer
Hello Miracle Noodle Fans! This week I wanted to tackle the sneaky little troublemaker hiding in your cupboards, on grocery store shelves, and in your stomach. I am talking about sugars you may not know you are consuming. These sugars can actually create roadblocks to your success in losing weight and even how you feel.
If you’re reading this newsletter, part of you has made a commitment to learning more about healthy eating. For some of you, you may just be trying to make healthier choices, which is an amazing way to start! Congrats!
I want to share with you something I wish I would have known when I began my journey in 2011. It’s hidden sugars. It’s still one of the biggest "ah-ha!" moments I have ever had. Let me tell you why.
What’s So Hidden?
I understand that using the term "hiding" might seem misleading. After all, if it's listed on a label, it's not trying to hide - but hear me out.
Would you usually expect sausages or meats to have sugars added? How about dairy? Broth? What about seasonings? Mustard? Frozen veggies? Depending on the brand, they are there. Why?
There are brands that add sugar in just to make things taste better. If it tastes good, you're probably going to repurchase it. Now, this may come down to only a gram or two per serving, but let's say you're using a seasoning containing sugars several times a day. It can add up!
Sugar on a label is easy to see. But, there are other terms to lookout for. For example, sucrose. Sucrose comes from sugar cane or beet sugar. It is table sugar. Hang on a bit longer here. I want to fill you in on some other names.
Let's talk artificial sweeteners.
Not everyone will have issues with artificial sweeteners, while others might. Take a look at what you are eating. Take a look at your goals. Have you plateaued recently? Then I want you to walk into your kitchen, and see if any of the items you are consuming contain the following.
The following are considered High-Intensity Sweeteners. They are super sweet and concentrated. This list comes from the FDA:
Acesulfame potassium (Ace-K)
Luo Han Guo fruit extracts
What you may not know; some people respond negatively to sugar-free/artificial sweeteners.
Did you also know that there is a recommended daily max allowance for them? Before you grab that XL diet soda, read this:
"During premarket review, FDA established an acceptable daily intake (ADI) level for each of the five high-intensity sweeteners approved as food additives. An ADI is the amount of a substance that is considered safe to consume each day over the course of a person’s lifetime. For each of these sweeteners, FDA determined that the estimated daily intake even for a high consumer of the substance would not exceed the ADI. Generally, an additive does not present safety concerns if the estimated daily intake is less than the ADI. (Food Additives & Ingredients, 2017)
People with medical conditions need to be careful.
The article from the FDA goes to note that High-Intensity Sweeteners are not advised for those with phenylketonuria (PKU). Why? Those with PKU can have a problem processing aspartame and components of it. In particular, phenylalanine.
What you also need to be aware of.
Let me introduce you to some names of other sweeteners, natural and chemically modified:
Fruit juice concentrates
High-fructose corn syrup
Evaporated cane juice
Corn syrup solids
My Revelation. A-Ha!
I was using a lot of products with the above ingredients listed. While some labels state "zero calories" - let's be honest, there's a count. If you look real close, some sugar-free syrups, dressings, etc. will say "contains trace calories."
Here's what happened to me.
I was experiencing a stall at a time when I was trying to cut weight (I compete in women's physique bodybuilding competitions). My coach advised me to eliminate all sweeteners out except natural stevia (with no additives). Guess what happened? I dropped weight. Shocking! I know!
An eye opener.
I was researching an all-natural brand of sweetener that used stevia and other ingredients. My friends were recommending it right and left, so I did what any other consumer does. I went to Amazon to read customer reviews. Not that I was surprised, but this is what I found when looking at a flavored chocolate syrup and a customer's question.
Q: "How many carbohydrates are in 2 tablespoons? It says less than one for 1/4 tsp, but I would like to know exactly how much for a larger amount."
A: One tablespoon (12 servings)
2.5 Calories from Fat
From the reviewer: "I got this [information] from the company - I am not going to use any longer as a result of the carb and fat count. Too high as I was using multiple times a day to drizzle on frozen protein."
What a great lead into my next point.
When we fill ourselves with these alternatives, we change the way our taste buds work. We may find ourselves under-consuming nutrient-dense foods in exchange for options marketed as low-calorie. This can quickly turn into over-consumption from the mentality "I just saved a ton of calories from eating this - there are no carbs/sugars. Now I can eat more of (insert favorite food) tonight."
So what's the big deal? Where's the problem?
The problem with that thought is there may have been a large amount of "trace calories" consumed without intent. Or, for some, blissful ignorance. I fell into blissful ignorance. It's a trap.
The Two Things You Should Do:
What I would advise is the same thing I educate my personal training clients on.
- Get in the habit of reading labels and ingredients. Ask questions. Do research. Use Google when you don’t understand what a word is!
- Take an honest look at your eating habits. If you really want to figure out how your body responds to ingredients, you can abstain for them for awhile and weigh yourself. Then try adding the ingredients/products back in and monitor how your body responds.
Let me be clear. I'm not out to demonize the food industry or those who make products with additives or sugars. I'm just here to help you navigate the sometimes murky waters of your health journey.
If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Teri Tenseth Market is a Certified Personal Trainer with a diploma in nutrition. She is also a Miracle Noodle Ambassador and has gone through her own physical transformation to better her health.
“Food Additives & Ingredients - High-Intensity Sweeteners.” US Food and Drug Administration Home Page, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, 19 Dec. 2017, www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/FoodAdditivesIngredients/ucm397716.htm.