Are you eating too much sugar? Though the recommended daily amount of added sugar tops out at 25 grams (six teaspoons) for women, your body could be significantly more sensitive (and the truth is, many of us eat way, way more than the recommended daily max).
But how can you tell if your sugar intake is higher than it should be? Because everyone's body is different, we'll each have different reactions to sugar intake — and each of us has a different personal "maximum." Clinical nutritionist and detox specialist Autumn Bates, CCN, shared a few telltale signs you can keep an eye on to decide if it's time to cut back.
If you haven't been feeling like the nicest or happiest version of yourself, your diet could be to blame. "A high-sugar diet can cause you to have severe mood swings," said Bates. This is "due to the rise and fall in blood glucose levels — think 'hangry.'" We've been there! "This happens because sugar is absorbed much more quickly into your body than fat or protein, so this results in a surge of energy and a very sudden drop. That drop can cause you to feel moody, angry, anxious, annoyed, and really hungry." Limiting your intake of sweets could potentially balance out your mood and lead to more positive feelings overall.
Is sugar giving your skin a little #TBT to your middle school years? You thought you outgrew acne, but your diet had other plans for you? "[Ingesting] high levels of sugar has been linked to hormone imbalances," said Bates. "These imbalances can appear in a variety of ways, but one of the most common forms is acne." Plan of action: keep your skin routine the same, but just start reducing your sugar intake. Take some before and after photos to see if the diet overhaul is making a difference, and go from there.
Ouch. Are you catching yourself reaching for NSAIDs and calling out of work with a migraine more than once a month? "Having a sudden spike, then drop in blood glucose levels (which happens with a high sugar diet) can trigger hypoglycemia," said Bates. "Common symptoms of hypoglycemia can include headaches or migraines. If you experience headaches often, you may be eating excessive amounts of sugar."
Inability to Lose Weight
If you're exercising constantly and eating pretty healthy but still not losing weight, it's time to reassess your diet's sugar levels. "Having a constant stream of sugar given to your body makes it impossible for your body to utilize its own fat stores," she said. Want to burn fat? Time to ditch the sweets. "It's much easier for your body to use sugar as a source of energy when it's available, so a high sugar diet will make it extremely difficult to tap into energy stored as fat."
For women especially, a sugary diet could be linked with different hormonal issues — according to Bates, this is specifically true for women with PCOS, or polycysitc ovarian syndrome. "PCOS has become an epidemic with women in their 20s and 30s," she said. "The two main factors that have been traced back to PCOS are stress and excessive sugar intake." Fun fact: stress can also cause all of the aforementioned symptoms that sugar can . . . so eating sugar is almost like eating stress.
"PCOS has been linked to insulin resistance, which can be caused by excessive sugar in the diet," said Bates. Keep in mind that even if your PCOS is not caused by sugar, you can potentially control the symptoms by reducing your intake. "One of the ways that I've seen PCOS controlled and sometimes reversed with my clients is by cutting out any additional sugar, reducing fruit intake, and limiting grain intake, especially refined grains — which ultimately get broken down into simple sugars in your body," said Bates.