Cautionary Carbohydrate Calories

The word 'sugar' strikes fear into the heart of every dieter. To active athletes, sugar is another word for glucose. Those who are really up on nutrition and metabolism facts might even make the jump to glycogen. But how much is enough, or more precisely too much?

According to the NSCA's Performance Training Journal, the acceptable macronutrient distribution range for carbohydrates is 45% to 65% of total calories. This includes both simple carbs (sugars) and the complex variety found in green vegetables, brown rice and sweet potatoes that digests much more slowly and keeps glucose blood levels more stable. The maximal intake of added sugars should be limited to no more than 25% of total energy, or 500 calories for someone adhering to a 2000 calorie diet.

The Bigger Picture: These upper limit figures may apply to marathon runners, long-distance bikers or someone training to swim the English Channel, but for most people it's way too much sugar. Then again, according to the American Heart Association, the average American consumes 33 teaspoons (or 90 grams) of added sugar per day. That 355 extra calories can really add a lot of unwanted pounds on a day to day basis.
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