How Much Sugar Can I Have On The If It Fits Your Macros Diet
Out of the 150k+ clients, our macro coaches have worked with over the years, the question of “How Much Sugar Can I Eat” comes up the most.
I personally answer this question in our Accountability Group Coaching calls at more times than I can remember.
One of the big benefits of the If It Fits Your Macros diet, is sustainability. After all, what do you think is easier to adhere to for 5+ months, eating the same boring health food, day in and day out, or eating the foods you love while burning fat at a steady and predictable pace? It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to answer that question!
Want that ice cream cone on a hot summers day?
Worries about eating clean, losing weight and all the BS that goes in to getting your dream body?
We’ve got you and your macros covered!
All we have to do is work it into your macro plan. There is nothing really ‘off limits’ with IIFYM and flexible dieting. Which means no matter your food craving tendencies, you can give in and satisfy that urge as long as the macros fit into your daily allotment of fat loss macros.
Now, with this said, is there a limit? How much can you really eat before you see the scale go up?
Common sense will tell you that if you live on nothing but burgers, potato chips, and candy for the rest of the month you aren’t going to be looking or feeling that great.
Most people know that even if those foods are allowed with flexible dieting, they probably should be consumed in moderation. Especially if athletic performance is one of your considerations.
But what’s the deal with sugar, specifically? How much sugar can you eat while tracking macros or at least… counting calories (Yeah, I said it..)
See, most diets out there heavily restrict sugar – or tell you to avoid it as best as you can. Is that the same with the If It fits Your Macros approach?
Let’s take a closer look at sugar and macro dieting so that you can fully understand this issue.
Sugar And Blood Glucose Levels
First, the biggest issue that occurs when you consume sugar on any approach is the influence it has over your blood glucose levels. Sugar enters your system and immediately a cascade of events will take place, which includes your pancreas releasing a large dose of insulin, who’s job it is to go in and remove that extra glucose from the bloodstream.
Your body tightly regulates blood glucose levels so anytime it’s pushed higher than it should be, you can rest assured that mechanisms are in place to bring the blood sugar down to a normal range.
As insulin enters the system, it draws up that glucose and moves it to storage. The storage that takes it? You guessed it – your body fat cells.
Now do keep in mind this will only happen if:
A. Your body does not need the incoming sugar for use as immediate energy.
B. There is no room in your muscle tissues to store the sugar (as muscle glycogen).
So at times, eating sugar in your macro diet can actually be beneficial. For instance, adding sugar to your diet immediately post-workout when your muscles have been depleted of their muscle glycogen can actually help to speed up the recovery process, restoring this glycogen and getting you ready for your next workout session. Don’t expect a miracle from this, but over time, the smallest changes can add up, so if you need every advantage you can possibly find, meal timing might be a consideration!
But, eating sugar when all you’ve been doing is sitting around on the couch all day is not so good.
See, the horror stories we hear about sugar only happen when we are in a caloric surplus (when we are eating more calories than our bodies can use in a given day).
When we are in a caloric deficit, the level of sugar we ingest (provided our macros are set up properly) is irrelevant to fat loss and general health.
Simply put, if we burn all of the calories we consume in a day, we also burn all of the sugar we consume in a day so the net effect of the sugar is zero
Sugar And Satiety
The next big problem with too much sugar in dieting is that it does influence satiety as well. As the blood glucose level, increases and insulin come in to help bring blood glucose levels back down, this drop in blood sugar levels can often promote intense hunger pains.
This can then drive you to eat more food – typically more sugar as your body knows that’s a fast source of energy, which just keeps the cycle going.
If you are very determined while following your If It Fits Your Macros diet, you’ll ensure that you don’t consume more calories than you need during the day, even despite this hunger.
But, not everyone is that determined. If you are feeling ravenous and can’t focus without eating something, chances are, you’ll have a snack. If this isn’t subtracted from your daily total calorie intake, you now may face weight gain.
Sugar And Nutrition
The next big issue that has to do with sugar is sugar and the nutritional intake you are consuming over the course of the day. If you are filling up on foods that are rich in sugar content and you only get to eat so many calories a day, what does this mean?
It means you aren’t eating those foods that are lower in sugar but higher in nutrients.
Over time, this can mean you start to suffer from nutritional deficiencies, and this could actually put you at risk for ongoing health issues.
Especially if you are on a reduced calorie diet, you want to, as often as possible, be making the most of all the calories you consume.
High sugar foods simply aren’t doing that, so this is a big reason why you may want to rethink including them in your weight loss plan.
Sugar Limits Per Day
Okay, so now that you know the drawbacks of consuming so much sugar, what should you limit be? How much sugar is too much?
As a general rule, we have most of our clients fall in a range of sugar intake based on their carbs.
While it is true that you can eat 100% of your carbs from sugar, we never have our clients get anywhere close to that.
The goal of the IIFYM coaches is to have our clients make the fastest fat loss in the least amount of time. This is not going to happen if we have them eat tons of sugar which will increase cravings, which could lead them away from hitting their macros for the day.
For our clients that need a sugar goal to hit for the day, we usually set their sugar allotment around 15-30% of their total carbs.
Here is how this works out:
Our average female client is 5’4″ 170 lbs, and goes to the gym or does yoga 2-3 times per week.
Someone like this might be at 180 grams of carbs per day to burn fat (everyone is different and this is just an example).
Yet, out of 180 grams of carbs, we might create a goal for this client of around 25-55 grams per day, give or take.
If they go over? No big deal as long as they are able to hit their macros for the day (carbs, protein & fat).
Now, if you are very active and are adding foods that contain a bit of sugar immediately post-exercise, you may be able to go slightly higher, provided all your other macros are in check. As long as our example client hits her macros on a day to day basis, she is going to burn fat at a steady and predictable pace.
This is part of the reason why so many people come to us, asking for help with their macros. They know that we have the perfect formula for IIFYM fat loss. We have worked with thousands of clients and have amazing success getting them in shape.
If you find yourself confused with IIFYM macro dieting, or just want someone to lay it out for you and tell you what to do, you might want to check out our Custom Macro Blueprint!
It is guaranteed to work.
Click here to check out our IIFYM Macro Blueprint
In either case, whether you have us dial in your macros for you, or you use our advanced macro calculator, the important thing to remember is that the negative effects of sugar are only going to affect fat loss when you consume more calories than you need. If you don’t get cravings when you eat sugar and you can still hit your macros, you have nothing to worry about.
For athletic performance, we suggest that you consume 20-25% of your carbohydrates from sugar.
No more, no less.
Sugar is not the devil and never has been.
Is it yummy and part of any balanced nutrition program.
Any healthy, disease-free person should be able to eat as much sugar as they can fit into their macros (carbs specifically) and still lose weight as long as the sugar does not cause cravings and trigger them in beyond temptation in to going over on their macros.
Thanks for reading, and be well!
PS, eat the cookie.
Sugar may not be a giant factor for say …..fat loss when macros are dialed in, but to promote sugar (which most people will think of refined white sugar) as something harmless is a very narrow way to look at it. One example is ….refined sugar is proven to initiate inflammation throughout the body (as measured with a c-reactive protein test) and when eliminated from a diet, measurable inflammation numbers sharply decrease. Sugar may not be the devil when simple mathematics are concerned with macros, but it is certainly not a component of value added nutrition with the havoc it creates when excess intake is not monitored and changed.