What Should I Know About Calories in Sugar?

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  • Written By: Jennifer Hale
  • Edited By: Lindsay D.
  • Last Modified Date: 30 April 2020
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Some amount of sugar is found in practically all foods, processed and natural, and sugar contains calories. In fact, in one small teaspoon (4 grams) of sugar, there is an astonishing 15 calories. In a daily recommended diet of 2,000 calories, these calories in sugar can add up quickly.

There are two types of sugars: naturally occurring sugar and added sugar. Naturally occurring sugar is found in fruits and vegetables such as: apples, bananas, and carrots. Added sugar is usually from refined sugar, such as white, brown, and powdered sugars, or in corn syrup solids present in processed foods. Of the types of sugar, natural sugar is the healthier of the two. Sugar is often disguised on label ingredients as sucrose, dextrose, or high fructose corn syrup, as well as by other names, so it is important to read labels carefully.

Sugar is also referred to as a simple carbohydrate. A healthy body needs carbohydrates to provide fuel for energy and to aid in brain function. This simple carbohydrate does provide fuel for energy, but is also full of empty calories, since it does not offer any nutritional value. The body's daily carbohydrate requirement of 130 grams can be met with starches, which are natural sugars. These starches, or complex carbohydrates, include: pasta, rice, bread, potatoes and carrots. Obviously it is more beneficial to eat fruit containing fiber and other vitamins and minerals, rather than the indulging in sweet treats full of empty calories, like calories in sugar.

Obesity is often the result of a diet filled with high calorie foods. People gain weight by consuming more calories then their body is able to use. Any remaining calories not used for cell repair or energy, are stored away in the body’s fat cells for future use. This is why smart food choices will aid in eliminating calories in a diet and help an individual to maintain their ideal weight. Because of the calories in sugar, choosing an apple over a sweet treat that is primarily sugar will provide necessary nutrients and fewer calories.

Artificial sweeteners, including Splenda®, Equal®, and Sweet'N Low®, mimic the sweetness of sugar without the amount of calories in sugar and can be used as an alternative. These products are more difficult for the body to break down into fuel, and therefore should be used in moderation.

Sugar can be a wonderful treat used to sweeten everything from morning coffee to tea at bedtime, but it is loaded with calories. A healthy body can utilize the calories in sugar for fuel in moderation, but will store the excess, which can quickly become added weight. Wise food choices will allow for an occasional sweet indulgence without sacrificing the body’s overall health and performance.

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