17 May 2021
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Sugar: the raw deal

Rob Deutsch
21 March 2012

Did you know that one teaspoon of sugar equals four grams?

You probably did. In any case, I challenge everyone to keep reading and question something.

Repeat – one teaspoon = four grams of sugar.

Start thinking of how you can analyse the labels. I want to teach everyone how to read labels. Once you can do this, half the battle is won. Whether you’re losing weight, gaining muscle or toning up, you need to know how to read labels.

Why? Because there will be items of food you’re eating regularly which are shocking for you.

If you’re overweight, I bet it is the sugar you are consuming that is causing this, not the fat! It could be both, but more often than not, it will be the sugar.

How many teaspoons of sugar do you have in your coffee?

Sugar trap 1 – yoghurts (choose smart and be nimble)

Yoghurts are a great example of a product that can be eaten smarter. Attached is just a simple example of the different types of product sold. For example, Tamar Valley yoghurt has 5.6g of sugar per 100g serve. If you ate the same amount of a Dairy Farmers Yoghurt, you would consume 15.1g of sugar and the Fruche almost 22g of sugar. That is four times the amount of sugar between Tamar valley and Fruche!! And yes, five teaspoons of sugar for the Fruche (22grams/4grams).

You wouldn’t get your coffee with five teaspoons of sugar, would you?

Tamar Valley label

Dairy Farmers label

Sugar trap 2 – dried fruit (if this were a human, it would be the stalker so avoid)

Dried fruits are really healthy, right? No they are not. It is a complete myth. They are jam-packed full of sugar, and people eat them in the mornings and afternoons at will. Stop! Substitute this for something else right away.

I have attached dried apricots and sultanas’ nutritional information as a reference guide. Bear in mind what we have learnt about sugar so far. No protein, no fat, just sugar. What a bad snack for weight loss clients! We are talking about 20g and 34g of sugar per serving of sultanas and apricots respectively and that’s for a smallish serving.

Again, do the maths: would you put five teaspoons of sugar in your coffee? OR would you put 8.5 teaspoons of sugar in your coffee?

Sunbeam Sultanas label

Sunbeam Apricots label

Sugar trap 3 – iron man food (marketing nonsense)

I want to make you aware of how marketing persuades our food choice, such as good old ‘Iron man food’ Nutri-Grain. Quality marketing! Average product! If there is an ironman who eats this, I would be surprised. Shame for poor old Joe Blogs, who doesn’t do the four hours of training a day. Check out the difference between your oats and Nutri-Grain in terms of performance.

Our ‘Iron man food’ contains 32g of sugar if you eat around a third of the box. I know blokes that could do that easily. That is one big bowl. On the other hand, our oats have 1g of sugar for the same size bowl. That is a whopping 32 times more. Yes, 32 times!

On average a normal person would eat around 60g or more, that is 20g of sugar for the Nutri-Grain and virtually none for the Oats.

Which one do you think the ironman eats?

Do you put five teaspoons or MORE of sugar in your coffee?

Does the ironman put five teaspoons or MORE of sugar in his coffee? I can answer this one – of course he doesn’t!

Sugar trap 4 – sauces (sweet, sour, and absolutely deadly)

Out of all the categories covered, this has to be the most startling. I honestly had to take the photos so you would believe me. If you take nothing more out of this, realise that the sauces you are putting into your body are fattening. Really fattening. They are way worse than you think. Who likes mint sauce with their lamb? Or tomato sauce with their eggs? Anyone throw on a bit of Kan Tong to spice up their stir-fry? Everyone does right?

Of the three, the tomato tends to fare best. Only because we tend to have smaller quantities at each sitting, the mint sauce and Kan Tong are shocking!

To put this into perspective, a bottle of each is around 250mL.

Let’s do the maths:

  • 100mL of mint sauce equals 36.4g of sugar
  • A bottle of mint sauce equals 250mL (2.5 x 36.4g = 91g of sugar)
  • 91g of sugar = 23 teaspoons of sugar
  • A bottle of Kan Tong or mint sauce has 23 teaspoons of sugar!

Would you put 23 teaspoons of sugar in your coffee? Perfect if you wanted a heart attack. Would you put it in your stir-fry?

Sugar trap 5 – fruit juice

Team, fruit juice is ok every now and then. What I am trying to do is open your eyes. Do not drink glasses and glasses of it. In fact, if you’re extremely overweight, don’t touch it! Not even a sip. Big call? We’ll let the numbers do the talking.

A standard glass is around 250mL. That would be approximately 20g of sugar.

Sugar trap 6 – muesli bars

So many people eat these as a snack. Are you one of them? Please don’t tell me you fell straight into the ‘ironman’ trap? Very clever (sly) marketing have us believe these are really, really great snacks for losing weight. Don’t be fooled. Be Natural bars should be called Be Fat bars. These are not the worst muesli bars on the market by any stretch either. Some of the fat is good (nuts). Not so good when you lace it with sugar. Yet again, read the labels and be smart. You should all know what to do by now so make up your own mind.

Personally, if I was trying to get lean I wouldn’t want to be eating a bar with 19.5g of sugar in it.

Sorry… but would you put five teaspoons of sugar in your coffee?

Alternatives – turn bad into better (or even good)

Some of the food options we make could be drastically improved with subtle changes. The technology of food and the development of healthier alternatives, make it much easier to lose weight these days. Have a look how small changes to your basket, can result in big changes to your waistline.

1. Good fat – peanut butter; your nuts if you don’t take this on board

When it comes to peanut butter, the choice is huge. Nuts are a good fat. Did you know that when eaten in the right quantities, good fats actually make you lose fat? It is true. So yes, I am saying a tablespoon here and there of peanut butter is fine if you’re trying to lose weight. However, only if you avoid brands such as Kraft. I am going to show you the difference between good and bad peanut butter. Be honest with yourself, which one do you usually buy?

The generic peanut butter we usually buy contains only 63 per cent peanuts. The rest is not good; vegetable oil, salt and sugar. Did you know you can actually buy peanut butter which is 100 per cent peanuts? Swap your Kraft for the brand called Macro! The difference is massive. The taste and price are the same.

In terms of the difference, it is huge:

  • The Kraft option has 50 per cent less protein.
  • The Kraft option has 40 per cent more sugar.
  • The only reason why it has less fat is because it is full of the other stuff instead. The irony is you want the fat! This is good fat remember.

Kraft Peanut Butter label

Organic peanut butter label

2. Want to get in shape? Goodbye Shapes...

This one is pretty obvious, but from an awareness point of view still important. This is a classic case of positive substitution. Admittedly, Cruskits don’t taste like Shapes. However, these rice cakes are really nice and still fare much better than the Shapes. These should be eaten in the following order; Cruskits, then rice cakes and then Shapes (NEVER).


We are talking about 0.4g of fat per serve of Cruskits against 5.6g of fat per serve of the Shapes. The rice cakes have 1.9g of fat per serve.

Conclusion: Shapes have 14 times more fat than Cruskits and Shapes have three times more fat than rice cakes.

3. Milk

Milk has always been subject to raging debates. I will leave this one in your court, but will outline the fat differences between skim and full cream. What this really comes down to is how much do you drink? If you’re having milk in cereal every day or large coffees then take note. Read very carefully.

Let’s assume an average person consumes around two litres of milk a week. That is only one big glass (250mL-300mL) a day. Most people, once they have had their coffees and/or cereal, drink far more than this.

The person who drinks full cream milk will consume the following:

  • 34g of fat
  • 49g of sugar

The person who drinks skim milk will consume the following:

  • 1.2g of fat
  • 49g of sugar

Skim milk has 30 times less fat than full cream milk. If you drink one glass a day, you will consume only 1g of fat/week with skim. If you drank full cream, that blows out to 34g of fat/week.

Everyone – these numbers are for a week!

Do the numbers over a year. On just one glass per day, you would consume 52g of fat/year with the skim. If you drank full cream, that blows out to 1910g of fat/year.

Wow! That’s just the fat.

Note – both the skim and full cream actually contain a fair bit of sugar as well. To be precise, in one glass there is around three teaspoons of sugar.

If you get your coffee with no sugar, what about the three teaspoons in there you forgot about?

4. Cheese (tasty and cream out; light and low fat cottage in)

This is a no-brainer. Cheese contains huge amounts of unwanted fat. However, there are some cheeky ways to get around this. First, we bin the cream cheese. Second, we bin the Swiss, tasty and cheddar cheese. Thirdly, we bin the feta, boccocini and mozzarella.

Solution? All cheese makers have cottoned on, and now sell cheeses which are 50 per cent less fat. Don’t eat the entire block, but a little bit of this is far better than a little bit of full fat cheese.

Better solution? Eat low fat cottage cheese. What a great snack – full of protein, low in fat and low in sugar. Everyone, in between breakfast and lunch and/or lunch and dinner is a great option.

Let’s run through some scary numbers to see the difference:
  • Cream cheese contains 34g of fat and 7.4g of protein.
  • Low fat cottage cheese contains 2.5g of fat and 12.5g of protein.

In summary, cottage cheese has 16 times less fat and almost double the protein – get on board!

5. More positive spin – beans

With so much negativity (reality), I wanted to include something random, and a little more positive. Of all the hidden demons, there are some items on the shelves we should start considering. One of these is the four bean mix. Not the most exciting but they actually taste great. Look at the label; very low in sugar, very low in fat and relatively decent amounts of protein. Use this in salads or eat it straight out as another good snack.

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