In case you haven’t heard, “sugar” is the latest diet world “bad” word according to media reports of its impact on our health. This doesn’t mean you should stress over every gram of sugar in your diet—some foods contain naturally-occurring sugars, and they’re perfectly safe to eat as part of a balanced diet.

One of the first steps to increase your LEVL is to reduce sugar in your diet. Here’s what you need to know about sugar and how it can impact your weight.

What’s the difference between table sugar and natural sugar?

When you’re thinking “sugar is bad for me” the types of sugar that should be limited in your fat-burning diet are added sugars. Sugar comes under 50 names on food labels—remember to look for the common names as well as cane sugar, evaporated cane juice, brown rice syrup, malt syrup, dextrose, maltose, lactose to name a few, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Fruit contains fructose sugar, which is naturally occurring and is digested slowly because of the fiber also found in fruit. While fruit should be part of your healthy diet, if you overeat them, the excess calories could prevent you from losing weight at the pace you want.

Which fruits are highest in sugar?

We’re not saying that any of these fruits are bad for you, but if you want to reduce the sugar in your diet, some fruits contain more sugar than others. Those include: mangoes, figs, bananas, grapes, cherries, and apples. Fruits that are lower in sugar include: berries, kiwis, and avocadoes. See which fruits are highest in sugar.

Should I switch to artificial sweeteners?

While you were probably aware that it’s smart to cut back on the amount of added sugar in your diet to improve your overall health and lose weight, you should pause before switching to diet beverages and “light” food products. More and more studies are finding negative associations with artificial sweeteners and our health. A new research review of nonnutritive sweeteners studies found linked consumption of nonnutritive sweeteners (aspartame, sucralose and stevioside) associated with increases in weight and waist circumference, and higher incidence of obesity, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular events, according to the researchers. While some medical experts don’t find inherent risks to consuming these types of sweeteners, they say they should only be consumed in moderation.

How does sugar impact fat loss?

Since you’re reading LEVL’s blog, you’re interested in taking steps to amp up your body’s fat-burning capabilities. Remember, when your body increases the amount of fat it uses for energy relative to the amount of carbohydrates, your breath acetone concentration ramps up—which is what you want! If your diet becomes high in calories or carbohydrates, your body will become less dependent on fat for energy. When your diet is high in empty calories from foods that contain added sugars, that could impact your fat-burning potential. If you’ve cut added sugars and still aren’t seeing the increases in your LEVL, consider reducing the amount of high-sugar, high carb fruits in your diet to see if that has an impact on your fat loss.

How much sugar should you consume?

Americans should limit added sugars to no more than 10 percent of their daily calorie needs. That’s about 12 teaspoons (48 grams of sugar) on a 2,000-calorie diet, according to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines recommendations. The American Heart Association suggests nine teaspoons per day for men and six teaspoons per day for women. That’s about 37.5 grams (150 calories) and 25 grams (100 calories), respectively. Once you start reading labels, you’ll notice that those numbers rack up quickly—especially when you’re eating processed foods.

 Sneaky places sugar hides in common foods

Sure, you know there’s plenty of sugar in ice cream and fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt, but here are a few places where added sugar is likely to appear:

  • Whole-grain cereals and granola
  • Instant oatmeal
  • Frozen foods
  • Granola bars, protein bars and cereal bars
  • Pasta sauce
  • Dried fruit, canned fruit, applesauce and fruit juices
  • Barbecue sauce, ketchup, salad dressing and other condiments