I consider myself a fairly healthy eater. Yesterday, out of curiosity, I downloaded the MyFitnessPal app, entered my height and weight, set it to “maintain current weight”, and recorded my exercise and food to see how I measure up nutritionally.
Here’s my report card from the end of the day:
I fell short in a few areas–fat, calcium, iron–and really nailed a few others–protein, fiber, and vitamins A & C.
What stuck out the most was that I’d exceeded their recommended sugar intake before lunch. Hah! What sugar bomb did I eat before noon, you might ask? Blueberry muffin? Cinnamon roll? Nay. I had a bowl of Kashi Go Lean cereal with blueberries, raw almonds, and unsweetened soy milk, coffee with the same unsweetened soy milk, and after working out, a banana with a tablespoon of peanut butter. Somebody stop me; I’m out of control. 😉
This prompted me to do some research on sugar, and I found a lot of conflicting information. From what I can tell, the recommended amount refers mostly to added sugar, rather that those occurring naturally in fruits and dairy products. Why, then, doesn’t MyFitnessPal differentiate? Two-three servings of fruit can easily put one over their limit! On the other hand, with very limited knowledge of chemistry/biology/etc., my understanding is that our bodies cannot tell the difference–sugar is sugar.
So what do we do with that information? I say (again, with very limited knowledge on the subject…this is purely my experience), take a step back, don’t hyper-focus on how many grams of this or that, and just eat real food. I know there are many popular diets out there that limit (or eliminate) fruit, but are you really telling that a highly processed protein bar with who-knows-what as a sweetener is better for my body than something that grew from the earth? I don’t buy it. Intuitively, I just don’t buy it. I feel certain that the benefits of eating an orange far outweigh the grams of sugar it contains.
I am not criticizing MyFitnessPal for this–it’s a helpful tool that prompted some research. Near the end of the day yesterday, the app showed me that I’d fallen pretty short on fat, Vitamin A, calcium, and iron, so I made myself a kale salad with Balsamic vinaigrette (umm, raw kale is disgusting, but I muscled it down for the sake of my health. ;-)) That helped close the gap on most of those nutrients.
Ultimately, it all comes back to my very basic belief about nutrition–just eat real food.
Do you use the MyFitnessPal app? What do you think about it?
Thoughts on sugar?