Excess Sugar and Weight Gain in America

The consequences of excess sugar on your health

Picture this. Your favorite TV show is on. You’ve got a sweet tooth. You reach into the cupboard, grab the bag of sugar and a teaspoon, venture back to the couch, and dig in. After 22 excessively sweet teaspoons, you stop. Sound yummy? Probably makes your stomach hurt thinking about it.

Did you know that the average American consumes 22 tsps (88g) per day? That translates to an extra 350 calories per day! Tons of simple sugars are added into our foods and drinks to help with taste or texture of the food. You’re probably consuming more sugar than you thought possible and the health consequences are dangerous. Can you even imagine sitting down and eating 22 teaspoons of sugar?

Understanding Sugars

Sugar is a carbohydrate. There are good or naturally found sugars in fruits, vegetables, dairy, and whole grains – typically called complex carbohydrates. These are not dangerous to our health when consumed in a balanced diet. The bad sugars added to foods are simple carbohydrates, which are detrimental to our health.

How to spot the added sugars? Easy – check the ingredients. Words that end in “ose” are sugar. Sweeteners that contain simple sugar include, high fructose corn syrup, corn sweeteners, honey, molasses, and fruit juice concentrate.

Weight Loss Tip:
Try to avoid foods with added sugar – especially if sugar is one of the top 3 ingredients.

Daily Sugar Intake

The less added sugar we eat, the better. In the perfect world – you shouldn’t eat any added sugar.

The maximum daily amounts of added sugar you should consume

Gender Teaspoons Grams
Men 9 tsp 36 g
Women 6 tsp 24g
Children 3-4 tsp 12-16g

1 teaspoon equals 4.2 grams of sugar.

Stay away from sugary drinks and cereals. They’re the most common sources of excess sugar. In fact sugary beverages are quickly becoming the #1 cause for weight gain in America.


The Dangers of Overconsumption 

There are no health benefits to the extra sugar. Added sugar is empty calories, with absolutely no nutrition.  Eating or drinking added sugar increases hunger and causes carb/sugar addiction. Studies have link excess sugar intake to the following health risks:

Health Risks in Adults Health Risks in Children
Obesity Attention problems
Diabetes Insomnia
Heart diseases Increased weight
Kidney disease Tooth decay
Some cancers
Tooth decay


Hidden sugar in the American diet is a major culprit behind weight struggles. To avoid excess sugar in your diet, read the nutritional labels and then keep track of your daily intake with a food journal. You’ll probably be surprised at how much sugar you’ve unknowingly been consuming.



4 Keys Facts About Weight Loss Smoothies

Clients and friends ask me all the time for recommendations on weight loss smoothies. Running from work to soccer practices to piano lessons –  you think I’ll just skip dinner and grab a smoothie. You’re busy, and you want something quick and healthy – I get it

Before you reach for a diet smoothie or juicing quick fix, make sure to review these 4 key facts about weight loss smoothies and juicing to help you achieve your weight loss goals – the right way.  

1. Check the label for protein
Your body needs protein. Our society is on carbohydrate overload. Only smoothies or weight loss shakes that contain adequate levels of protein will help you lose weight and sustain weight loss.

If you’re consuming one or more a day without adequate levels of protein, your body will start to break down your own muscle to get protein causing muscle wasting, which ultimately lowers metabolism.  If you do this for a a month or longer, you may cause a significant reduction in your metabolism. And then to maintain and lose weight – you’ll have actually have to start eating less.

2. A smoothie is not synonymous with healthy 
A smoothie could be filled with sugar, but because it says “smoothie” many people think its healthy, just like they do with cereal, oatmeal, etc.  Unless you know the actual ingredients and in what amounts, it certainly shouldn’t be mistaken for healthy because it probably isn’t.

3. Juicing decreases nutrients, especially fiber
The juicing mechanism removes parts of the fruits and veggies, often containing rich nutrients and fiber. You many think you’re consuming more nutrients by juicing, but you may actually be getting less.  Eating whole fruits and vegetables preserves all the nutrients.

4. Uncharted territory – limited rules
There are few rules on what is in them or what determines “weight loss”.  You need to check the ingredients and find out what’s in them. Are they really going to help you achieve weight loss – the right way?  Probably not. Similarly – a lot of food labels may say “protein bar” or “protein shake” but the amount of protein they actually have varies. And they can be laden with all kinds of sugar.

How to improve smoothies or juicing? The answer is simple-add protein and cut the sugar!  By adding protein and limiting sugar you give your body a more balanced, mixed nutrition that can turn smoothies into a healthy snack or meal replacement. (a healthy carb and a protein together is much better for your body).

Protein sources for smoothies

  • Whey protein powders
  • Milk (almond, cow, soy)
  • Greek yogurt
  • Peanut butter (natural is best)
  • Quinoa

While a smoothie may seem like a good healthy option – make sure it fits into you overall weight loss plan. Ideally, one that has been customized for your body and your weight loss needs. There is no quick fix to achieve and maintain your weight – it’s about making healthy choices and learning what to eat and how much. 


Acheive Weight Loss with Food Portion Control

If you’re like me – when you were growing up you weren’t allowed to leave the dinner table until every last morsel was off your plate. My mom tried to lure me into that mythical, exclusive club known as ‘the clean plate club’. As an adult, I still feel guilty if I don’t finish my food. Combine this with today’s typical restaurant portions – no wonder most people don’t know how much, of what to eat.


On average most restaurant portions have 2-4 times more food than you should eat at one time. And some restaurant may even have more calories than you need to eat in one day – over 2,000. And you probably try to eat it all – after all you have to maintain your membership in the clean plate club. And when you go to a restaurant that serves the right portion – chances are you feel ripped off. Sound familiar?


The key to successful weight loss: Portion Control. Know what you need to eat and how much.


Recommended food portions for dinner


  • The recommended portion of meat (protein) is the size of your palm (yes that means bigger for men).
  • Non starchy vegetables should take up half of you plate
  • Whole grains and starches are usually ½ cup or less. You shouldn’t eat both of these in same meal since these are higher in carbs.




Tips & Tricks for Food Portion Control…


at Home


  • Eat your meals on salad or kids sized plates (8 inches or less).  Studies have confirmed, the bigger our plates/bowls are, the more we eat. (clean plate club anyone?)
  • When packing leftovers, don’t just pack all of them into one big container, separate them into a smaller containers with proper proportions. You’ll be less tempted to overeat.
  • Buy smaller sizes of some foods if you have trouble controlling intake
  • Plan meals for the week to reduce eating out



at Restaurants


  • Avoid the buffet
  • Order 1 entree and split it with your date. Not only will you eat less – you’ll save money.
  • Pack up half of your meal to go at the beginning of the meal, not at the end of the meal.
  • Plan your meal before getting to the restaurant. Check out the menu online, review the carbohydrates and calories to order with confidence.
    • Websites like provide nutritional information on many dishes at common restaurants.


Everyday Best Practices 


  • Drink water before and during a meal,
  • Eat slowly and mindfully-taste and savor each bite. Typically, we eat so fast we are not tasting our food and not listening to our bodies telling us we’re full.
  • Don’t starve yourself before eating out or attending a dinner party. When you do – you’re more likely to overeat.
  • Allow yourself occasional treats in moderation,
  • Sleep 7-9 hours a night
  • Keep a food log!  It’s the best way to to control your portions and manage your weight.



We are a country of excess and the ‘clean plate club‘ is not our friend. So if that feeling of guilt comes over you when you don’t eat the full plate remind yourself “I’ll either waste it, or waist it!” Sorry mom!!