guide to hidden sugars

The American diet is full of so many options and marketing ploys that it can be hard to decipher what is truly healthy and nutritious and what is not. Food companies work to stay on trend with diets, and then tweak food labels accordingly, making it more difficult than ever to decide which foods our healthiest for us (1).

Understanding how to scan the nutrition label and ingredient list of foods for grams of sugar is an important part of eating healthier and combating weight gain and all the detrimental health risks that come with it.

When we can start to eat more whole foods that are nutrient dense, we will, in turn, avoid the health risks that come with eating large amounts of sugar, refined carbohydrates and processed foods (2). You’ll want to get educated on how to compare nutrition labels and choose the foods that provide your body with more protein, fiber and healthy fats instead of sugars and saturated fats. Another significant aspect of avoiding added sugars is to know the many names that sugar goes by. Marketing companies use these ingredient names to confuse consumers, allowing food companies to continue to add excessive amounts of sugars into their products(3). Check out this post, which shows how to get to know sugar and how to accurately identify sugars in a nutrition label.

Sugars and even sugar substitutes enter the body and confuse the metabolic system (4). First, we don’t have the capacity to break it down. Instead, sugar drives fat to be stored unnecessarily, causing complications with our heart, arteries, cognitive function, and more (5). It can also make us think that we are hungry when truly we aren’t because when sugar is consumed it releases the hormone dopamine in large amounts (6). Dopamine is also known as the 'happy hormone' because we feel so good when our body is releasing it into our system. This is one reason that some people become addicted to sugar. The best way to combat sugar cravings and its detrimental effects is to regularly incorporate healthy fats into your diet, as well as lean protein sources and plentiful vegetables and fruits with a low-glycemic index (7).

We can add sweetness to foods within a low-carb diet, like the sweetners niKETO promotes and loves, without risking excessive sugar intake. Do this by choosing foods like juice from fresh lemon or limes, liquid organic stevia drops and low-carb fruits like raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and cranberries.

What follows is a list of foods that are often filled with unnecessary added sugars. Be sure to make educated choices when choosing these types of foods by comparing and contrasting nutrition labels:

  • Cereal

  • Pancakes/waffles (frozen and baking mixes)

  • Dairy

  • Yogurt

  • Bread

  • Beverages (tea, kombucha, milks, fruit juices, sports beverages, nutrition shakes, coffee drinks)

  • Pasta and pizza sauces

  • Condiments (ketchup, teriyaki sauce, marinades, relishes)

  • Salad dressings

  • Flavored oatmeal

  • Frozen meals

  • “Low-fat” foods (often flavor-enhanced by adding sugars)

  • Dried fruit

  • Jelly or jam

  • Nut butters

  • Granola and granola bars

  • Processed foods (fruit snacks, crackers, chips, baked goods, candy, protein powders, vitamin C packets)

  • Smoothies

  • Protein powders

  • Restaurant foods

The sooner you start to cut out unnecessary added sugars from your diet, the better you will start to feel and look. Energy levels will go up, fatigue will diminish, and your belly will feel comfortable and flatter (8). You'll likely begin to crave dark leafy greens and fresh meals with abundant nutrient density rather than consuming food-like substances that are processed, packaged and so harmful to our health. Keep following a low-glycemic, keto diet and feel how your mind thinking more clearly, your sleep will be better and your body will run more efficiently.

Don't fall victim to major food marketing companies by continue to consume the foods they want you to. Instead, choose whole foods, make your meals at home and listen to your gut. You won't regret it!


(1) C A Roberto, and N Khandpur. Improving the design of nutrition labels to promote healthier food choices and reasonable portion sizes. Int J Obes (Lond). 38(Suppl 1): S25–S33. July, 2014.

(2) James M. Rippe, and Theodore J. Angelopoulos. Relationship between Added Sugars Consumption and Chronic Disease Risk Factors: Current Understanding. Nutrients. 8(11): 697.Nov. 2016.

(3) Mary C. Wiley, PsyD. Hidden Sugars may have serious effects on children's heart health. Accessed Sep. 23rd, 2018.

(4) Jotham Suez, Tal Korem, David Zeevi, Gili Zilberman-Schapira, et al. Artificial sweeteners induce glucose intolerance by altering the gut microbiota. Nature volume514, pages181–186. OCt. 9th, 2014. Published online: Sep. 17th, 2014.

(5) University of California San Francisco, Sugarscience. Latest SugarScience Research. Accessed Sep. 23rd, 2018.

(6) Rada P, Avena NM, Hoebel BG. Daily bingeing on sugar repeatedly releases dopamine in the accumbens shell. Neuroscience.134(3):737-44. 2005.

(7) Nicole M. Avena, Pedro Rada, and Bartley G. Hoebel. Evidence for sugar addiction: Behavioral and neurochemical effects of intermittent, excessive sugar intake. Neuroscience Biobehav Rev. 32(1): 20–39. 2008.

(8) Harvard Medical School. The sweet danger of sugar. Published: May, 2017. Accessed Sep. 23rd, 2108.

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