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The Perils of Sugar

The Perils of Sugar
The sweet stuff has ruined our eating habits and contributed to obesity and other major health problems.

The junk-food industry got its start in the 1890s. By 1928 sugar intake, which had averaged 12 pounds a year per person in 1828, was nearly 10 times that a century later. Today, even if you don’t take your sugar straight, you’ll find it already sprinkled into thousands of different foods and beverages before they even come to your table.

An Increasingly Sweet Tooth The latest Department of Agriculture statistics show that the average American consumed 124 pounds of caloric sweeteners (principally, refined sugar and high-fructose corn syrup) in 1975 and 158 pounds in 1999. This translates into an average of nearly 750 calories from sugar each day, which means by conservative reckoning, more than one-third of all the calories an adult puts into his or her body each day comes from nutritionally empty and metabolically harmful caloric sweeteners. Those figures represent 190 grams of sugar (and corn syrup) a day. Compare that with the 300 grams of carbohydrate the government expects us to consume each day, and we see that sugar now comprises more than 60 percent of the carbohydrate total.

The Role of Sugar in Obesity Sugar has no nutritional value and is directly harmful to your health. Despite vociferous attempts to defend it, there are hundreds of studies that clearly show how harmful (and even deadly, in the case of diabetics) its effects can be. Diets high in sugar and other refined carbohydrates radically increase the body’s production of insulin, and insulin is the best single index of adiposity. That final word is medical jargon for fat.

Sugar activates certain metabolic processes that are both harmful to your health and folly for your waistline. Sugar is a metabolic poison. You could, of course, ignore this fact and attempt to control your weight by calorie counting and deprivation. That is, you could direct yourself to the quantity instead of the quality of your diet. That’s pretty much what conventional diets advise. However, the likelihood that you’ll permanently lose weight by controlling your caloric intake is almost nil.

Low-Fat Often Means High Sugar Sugar is the American food industry’s friend, and it seems to be the friend of some highly regarded medical organizations, as well. For example, half the calories in some of the most popular cereals and breakfast foods come from sugar. If you’ve allowed yourself to be overawed by the vast quantities of antifat propaganda issued forth in the guise of nutritional education during the 1980s and 1990s, you may almost have forgotten that American supermarket aisles are crammed with sugar. Low-fat or diet cookies and crackers, ice cream, frozen cakes and pies, soft drinks and white bread are so filled with sugar that the United States has “low-fatted” and “dieted” itself to a raging epidemic of obesity and diabetes.

Helpful Tips:

Eliminate sugar and all products that contain sugar from your kitchen. Instead use a nonaspartame sugar substitute in granular form for baking and in packets for sweetening beverages. We recommend the use of sucralose, marketed as Splenda®, or saccharin, marketed as Sweet’n Low®. Atkins™ Sugar Free Syrups are another delicious way to sweeten desserts and beverages. Look for, and purchase, the ever-increasing selection of controlled carbohydrate food alternatives to low-fat, high-sugar foods. Read all labels for sugar under all its guises. This includes honey, corn syrup, maple syrup, cane syrup, sucrose, fructose and dextrose. When grocery shopping, stick to the aisles on the perimeters of the store. The center aisles are where the junk and processed food lurks. Avoid breath mints, chewing gum and cough syrups that list sugar as an ingredient.

Our thanks to the Atkins Center for this article. This article will give you some basic information about the Atkins Diet Approach for Weight Loss and Good Health, but is not a substitute for reading the books for the details of this plan (or the book for whatever low carb plan you choose to follow.)