Busting The “No” Sugar Misconception!
Do “No Sugar” recipes actually have no sugar?
Oftentimes we see recipes advertised as having no sugar. For example, I just saw one the other day titled something like, “Healthy No Sugar Chocolate Caramel Squares.” Immediately I’m sure many of us are thinking, OMG, amazing, no sugar, I can eat this all the time!
So first, I want to draw your attention to the “No sugar” part of this. After reading the recipe, you’ll usually see dates as the main ingredient. Which, although very nutritious, are, in fact, high in sugar. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with natural sugars, but it’s something you need to be aware of. So thinking there’s no sugar in this snack may make you feel like you can overindulge in it without gaining weight. And that’s the misconception here! The title should probably have something like “No Added Refined Sugar” or anything along those lines in it to be a bit more accurate. However, that’s of course far less exciting!
So, for all the fitness enthusiasts looking for healthy eating tips and healthy lifestyle ideas, understanding what your low sugar, no sugar, and no added sugar options really mean is key to achieving your goals and fuelling your body nutritiously!
Let’s read some facts about “No sugar snacks”!
What does “No Added Sugar” really mean?
Nowadays, it’s become more and more apparent that high sugar diets (I don’t love using this word, but we’re using it to mean a way of eating) lead to all sorts of unwanted health conditions like heart disease, obesity, diabetes, etc. So we’re definitely more attentive to that sugar number on a nutrition label. But of course, marketing can be a very misleading thing when you’re shopping or grabbing something quick and not necessarily reading through ingredients. When you see “No sugar added” or “Zero sugar,” it looks healthy at first glance or even something you could munch on all day, but it can still have sugars in it. The “no sugar added” part means that there aren’t any sugars like white sugar, brown sugar, honey, molasses, dextrose, fructose, etc. And although that’s a great thing, if you’re watching your sugars for whatever reason, you should still know that naturally occurring sugars still mean there’s sugar in the food. For example, one cup of canned kidney beans has about five grams of sugar in it, and an 8.45 oz juice box of unsweetened orange juice hits about twenty-three grams of sugar! That’s a lot! Then we have to consider sugar alcohols. And that’s the next point! So what we can take from this: no added sugar means that the common sugar culprits like white sugar, molasses, fructose, dextrose, etc., are not present, but they’re still likely sugar contained in the food item. And even more likely, as there are sugar alcohols.
What’s the difference between “No sugar added” and “Unsweetened?”
You see the words “No sugar added” or “Unsweetened,” and you might think, yay! This must be healthy AND sweet! And you’re right! Almost!
Both of these phrases mean there aren’t any added sugars (like white sugar or molasses and the other sugars listed in the point above), but that doesn’t mean the food only contains naturally occurring sugar. This is where it gets tricky, sneaky, and confusing. So, “No sugar added” products can’t be sweetened with any sugar-containing ingredients, as outlined by the FDA. BUT, they can be made with artificial sugars and sugar alcohols, which do have fewer calories than sugar-containing ingredients. However, they don’t come without some sort of compromise. Some people are very affected by artificial sugars and sugar alcohols and experience bloating, headaches, and other digestive issues. I’ve experienced these things without even consuming sugar, alcohol, and artificial sugars in excess. So, that’s definitely something to watch out for!
Next, we have products labeled “Unsweetened.” These foods can contain naturally-occurring sugars and sugar alcohols, but NO artificial sweeteners. Now we can see why taking an extra minute to read the actual ingredients becomes more and more important.
There are so many added ingredients that make foods sweet (which don’t look like sugar on a label), but they are neither natural nor healthy. At least by reading the ingredient list, we can get a better picture of how all the ingredients, nutrients, and sugars stack up.
Something that has naturally occurring sugar is definitely something I favor over a low sugar option with more artificial sugars and sugar alcohols in it. But I also keep in mind that these naturally occurring sugar products can be very high in sugar and shouldn’t just be eaten like an infinite supply of deliciousness! Like I want to do most times, but only do sometimes, hah!
Hopefully, this helps clear up the misconception and understanding of what “no sugar” actually means!
For more healthy and nutritional information, reach out to Bar None Fitness Studio. We are Burlington’s most trusted personal trainers, helping clients realize their potential through positive fitness outcomes. We continuously improve our customer experience so that our clients feel safe and comfortable bettering themselves.
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