I recently discussed how to eliminate sugary drinks from your life.
Today I want to talk about an even stealthier source of sugar . . . sauces, condiments and dressings.
Why am I so focused on sugar?
It’s making you fat.
Sugar is hidden in our foods and stimulates insulin release, which is a fat storage hormone driving fat into our bodies.
When I see a patient struggling to lose weight we dig deep into their diet.
Often these patients are unknowingly consuming loads of sugar hidden in sauces, condiments and dressings.
These hidden sugar sources are easy targets to help with weight loss.
I have found in my practice, and in my own life, that eliminating sugar is one of the fastest and easiest ways to jumpstart weight loss and prevent or eliminate diabetes.
As a sugar reference, the World Health Organization now recommends only 10% of calories come from added sugar and strongly consider going as low as 5%.
This is about 25 grams (6 teaspoons) per day for the average person, which is consistent with guidelines from the American Heart Association.
Here are 5 sugary sauces making you fat along with several low sugar options.
Ever wonder why you love ketchup so much?
It’s the sugar.
How much sugar is in ketchup?
A teaspoon of sugar for every tablespoon of ketchup.
The sugar adds up when Ketchup is lathered on everything. Heinz Ketchup for instance contains 4 grams of sugar per tablespoon. For perspective, one cup of ketchup has 55 grams of sugar.
This sugar content is as bad as muffins and ice cream.
Unfortunately, Americans consume an amazing amount of ketchup per year. Get ready for this one. 71 pounds of ketchup per person per year!
Check out this infographic on the All-American Diet.
Our household ditched Heinz Ketchup. At our local co-op my wife discovered unsweetened ketchup from Westbrae Naturals, which contained only 1 gram of sugar per tablespoon.
A tiny sugar improvement.
Does it taste different?
This ketchup is thicker and tastes not quite so sweet . . . something our tastebuds became accustomed to and preferred with time.
If you’d rather stick with the brand you grew up on . . . check out Heinz Reduced Sugar Ketchup, which also has only 1 gram of sugar. If you’d rather go with a a sugar free ketchup recipe check out this Homemade Sugar-Free Ketchup from Spoonful of Sugar Free blog.
2. Barbecue Sauce
I love barbecue.
There is something terribly addicting about that sweet and smokey taste . . . oh yeah . . . it’s the sugar.
Barbecue sauce is heavily sweetened . . . so be careful. It’s not the pork ribs necessarily . . . but the sauce lathered on top that makes you fat.
Famous Dave’s Rich and Sassy BBQ Sauce has 13 grams of sugar in only 2 tablespoons.
Annie’s Organic Barbecue Sauce is less sugary, but still contains 5 grams of sugar per tablespoon. As a bonus, Annie’s organic is without artificial flavorings, colors or preservatives.
If you want to go completely sugarless, consider a sugar free BBQ sauce such as Guy’s Award Winning BBQ Sauce.
There are multiple sugar free options available with a quick search online or at your local grocer. You’ll need to test several to check out the taste, which I can’t vouch for.
If you’re the do-it-yourself type, consider this homemade sugar free barbecue sauce from healthfulpursuit.com.
Lastly, do as our family has done . . . a dry rub. One of our favorite’s is Trader Joe’s Dry Rub. Dry rub’s are a great way to get the spicy and smokey flavors with less sugar. You’ll notice that Trader Joe’s does have brown sugar – a usual ingredient for dry rubs – so even with the rub you’ll need to behave.
No Trader Joe’s nearby?
3. Asian Sauces
Asian dishes are another favorite in our household.
Unfortunately the sauces for the American Chinese dishes such as Sweet and Sour, Orange and General Tso are loaded with sugar.
A serving of Orange Chicken at Panda Express (only 5.7 ounces of food) has 18 grams of sugar.
A single 5.5 ounce serving of Sweet and Sour Chicken has 23 grams of sugar.
Kikkoman Sweet and Sour Sauce contains 7 grams of sugar in 2 tablespoons.
LaChoy Sweet and Sour Sauce contains 11 grams of sugar in 34 grams of sauce. About 1/3 rd of the sauce is sugar.
If you want to make your own check out Low Sugar Sweet and Sour Sauce from chef and nutritionist Christine Bailey from the UK.
4. Fat-Free Salad Dressings
Salads are great way to get in some greens . . . unless lathered with sugary dressings.
Fat-free salad dressings add sugar after the fat is eliminated to give the dressing more taste.
It’s like adding a sugar coating to your vegetables.
Not at all healthy.
A single tablespoon of fat-free Italian salad dressing contains a gram of sugar. Doesn’t sound so bad, but that’s about 20 grams of sugar in a cup.
Annie’s Balsamic Vinaigrette contains 2 grams of sugar in 2 tablespoons. Newman’s Own Low-Fat Sesame Ginger Dressing contains 4 grams of sugar per 2 tablespoons. Kraft Fat-Free Catalina contains a whopping 7 grams of sugar in only 2 tablespoons.
Some sweet vinaigrettes such as Hyy-Vee Light Lemon Ginger Sesame Vinaigrette contains as much as 7 grams of added sugar in 2 tablespoons.
To control the sugar you need either portion control or a better recipe to make your own.
Stick to some olive oil or squeeze a lemon over your salad. Here’s a quick and Easy Lemon Vinaigrette from Lauren Slayton MS RD of Foodtrainers.
5. Spaghetti Sauce (and pasta)
Spaghetti sauce over pasta is a common American quick and easy dinner.
Unfortunately, store-bought tomato sauce has a large amount of added sugar for taste. For instance, Prego Traditional Pasta Sauce has 20 grams in a single cup.
Adding a sugary sauce to a pasta (another carbohydrate source) will cause serious sugar overload.
There are plenty of ways to cut back on your sugar intake.
Start by simply substituting a couple of the products or recipes mentioned in this article.
With simple changes you’ll be able to quickly lower your sugar intake as well as your insulin level to help jumpstart weight loss.
I’ve found this to be one of the most effective ways to help my patients (as well as myself) to quickly start losing weight and prevent or eliminate diabetes.