The holidays are upon us and you know what that means, tempting candy canes, cookies, and pies. Did you know that the USDA estimates the average American consumes 54 pounds of added sugar per year—that translates to 67g of added sugar per day, which adds up to a whopping 270 calories. It’s important to note there are naturally occurring sugars, found naturally in foods such as fruits (fructose) and dairy (lactose), while “added sugars” are the sugars and syrups put in foods during preparation or processing.

Added sugars do not provide our bodies with nutrients like their natural counterparts.  Instead, excess added sugar intake has been associated with increasing blood pressure, weight gain, and type 2 diabetes. We often think of candy and baked goods as the usual sugary suspects; however, the majority of added sugars sneak into our diets through sweetened beverages like soft drinks, sweetened coffees and teas, energy drinks; and even flavored waters. Of course we mustn’t forget about added sugars that hide in breakfast bars, cereals, yogurts, and condiments too. The American Heart Association recommends limiting your daily added sugar intake to 24 grams or 6 teaspoons (100 calories) for women and 36 grams or 9 teaspoons (150 calories) for men.

Describing how Sugar Impacts Your Fertility 

Drinking sweetened beverages and eating high glycemic, processed carbohydrates (low in fiber and packed with added sugars) quickly spike blood sugars, causing a sharp rise in insulin levels. Insulin is a hormone our body produces to move sugar into our cells so it can be used for energy. Because insulin is chemically similar to the ovarian hormones that help our eggs mature, the ovaries confuse elevated insulin with their own growth factors and down-regulate the production of reproductive hormones. This can potentially interfere with egg maturation and ovulation. Unfortunately, high levels of insulin also tell our bodies to store fat, making weight loss more difficult. Consistently elevated insulin levels, as seen with insulin resistance, can cause the cells in the ovarian tissues to produce too much testosterone. This excess of testosterone may cause abnormal hair growth, acne, and hair loss that is sometimes associated with polycystic ovary syndrome, or PCOS.

The Good News for Your Fertility

By reaching for less processed carbohydrates you will gain the added benefit of fiber. Dietary fiber helps slow down the absorption of carbohydrates, which helps stabilize blood sugar and insulin levels. Another helpful technique for maintaining good blood sugar control is to incorporate protein with your meals and snacks. Pairing protein and healthy fats with unprocessed carbohydrates like legumes, vegetables, fruits, and whole grains makes for a nutrient dense, fertility-friendly diet. Protein will not only aid in blood sugar and insulin regulation but it will also decrease those strong carb and sugar cravings and help you feel full longer.

Here are a few lower sugar, naturally sweet treats to try during the holidays:

  • Baked apples or pears with cinnamon, a dollop of Greek yogurt, and sprinkle of homemade granola
  • No bake, natural peanut butter, oat, honey, and walnut energy bites
  • Homemade frozen fruit sorbet


If you’re interested in learning more about sugar and fertility and healthy eating, schedule an appointment with our Registered Dietitian at the Wellness Center at Shady Grove Fertility or call 888-761-1967.

If you’ve been trying to conceive without success, it might be time to see a fertility specialist. To schedule an appointment, please call our New Patient Center at 877-961-7755 or click here.