This article is about cutting out sugar for weight loss. Added sugar is one of the main sources of empty calories with no nutrients and this, in the long run, can damage the body’s metabolism. Eating too much of the empty calories has been linked to weight gain.
Research shows that natural sugar that exists in whole foods is healthier compared to added sugar. Intake of excess added sugar leads to increased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, tooth decay, liver problems, and obesity.
So now how do we differentiate between added sugar and natural sugar?
Added sugar is any form of caloric sweeteners that manufacturers add to processed and pre-packaged foods like ice cream, cookies, candy. Added sugar is also found in the common foods we love most; such as bread, yogurt, spaghetti, and ketchup.
Natural sugar, on the other hand, is that which naturally occurs in whole foods for example fructose in most fruits and lactose that occurs naturally in milk. Whole foods like fruits have fiber that makes you fuller thereby reducing your calorie intake. Fiber also makes the body to absorb the sugar from fruits more slowly.
The ways of cutting out sugar for weight loss include; preparing own meals, checking labels on food, using sugar alternatives, Natural sugar, Avoiding liquid sugar, and cut back on packaged foods.
How much sugar is ok in a day?
Research shows that on average, people consume 72g of added sugar per day. Only 25g-40g is recommended as daily consumption.
The recommended daily sugar intake may vary depending on sex and age, of course not forgetting people with health conditions like diabetes.
Research shows that the average person in the United States consumes close to 72 grams of added sugar per day, which is about 17 teaspoons. Unfortunately, this is way too much compared to what is recommended by the American Heart Association.
The American Heart Association recommends that one should not eat sugar more than half of their discretionary calorie allowance. Discretionary calorie allowances are the excess calories to enjoy once the required nutrient needs are attained.
The guideline recommends that; men should consume 150 calories of sugar (38g or 9 tsp), 100 calories (25 or 6 tsp) for women and less than 25 grams for children between 2 to 18 years of age.
What about people with diabetes?
People with diabetes should monitor their blood glucose levels to make sure that it is within the required safe range. This is because different foods affect blood glucose levels differently depending on their Glycemic index. Diabetic people should avoid added sugars and focus on fiber and nutrient-dense carbs from whole foods. This may be one of the ways to stabilize their sugar levels.
How does added sugar bring about weight gain?
Sugar affects insulin resistance and blood sugar levels in the blood. This spikes hunger, causing you to crave more sugar/ cab foods. The more carbs you take will be turned into fat in the body.
Secondly, apart from calories, sugar is an addictive substance. Just like some drugs like heroin. Sugar causes a neurotransmitter response that makes people feel good, and they become a bit “high”. When the feeling reduces, they crave it again and again. The calories add up and people end up gaining weight.
Does cutting out sugar for weight loss work?
When it comes to whether cutting out sugar for weight loss is effective, the answer is yes. Registered dieticians and public health officials agree that added sugars in soft drinks and processed or packaged foods are the major cause of weight gain and obesity in the United States. It is logical to say that cutting out on the added sugar will work for weight loss.
Various researches have also supported this hypothesis. According to the meta-analysis published in journal BMJ in 2013, it was established that decreasing added sugars and naturally occurring sugars in honey, juices, and syrups are related to weight loss.
What are the different ways of cutting out sugar for weight loss?
1. Avoid liquid sugar
By liquid sugar means soft drinks like sodas and fruit juice. These are digested quickly compared to the sugar in whole foods which causes a spike in blood sugar levels. 12 ounces of soda, for example, contain about 130 empty calories. To cut on sugar intake consider having whole fruits than fruit juice or smoothies.
2. Cut back on packaged foods
Most of the packaged foods we buy from the supermarket contain added sugar. An article published in the journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics showed that 75% of the packaged foods in supermarkets contained added sweeteners. Some of the packaged foods which contain sweeteners include; candies, chocolate, yogurt, and savory snacks.
3. Try sugar alternatives
Consider using non-nutritive sweeteners (NNSs) since they contain little or no calories at all. Some of the non-nutritive sweeteners approved by the Food and Drug Authority include; Neotame, sucralose, saccharin, and Advantame.
4. Replace added sugar with natural alternatives
Added sugars are high in calories but have no nutrition value, and are digested fast which encourages craving. Replacing chocolate, candies, yogurt with whole foods like apples, pears may be one way of cutting back on added sugars.
5. Always check the label on the foods and drinks before you buy
Most commodities have a description of the ingredients and their percentages on the packaging. When you carefully take note of these labels, you can easily avoid those commodities that are high in sugar.
6. Take charge or prepare the meals or snacks from home
When you take control of the process of preparing your meals or snacks, you dictate the amount of sugar that you want to eat. So one can easily say zero or no to sugar foods since he or she is in charge.
Our article about the weight loss-friendly foods may be important to you.
Other benefits of cutting out sugar from your diet
Cutting out sugar from the diet is challenging. If you can cut back on added sugar intake, you are set to reap a variety of health benefits which include;
1. Better skin health
Collagen, the most abundant protein in your body responsible for tissue formation can be hindered with high blood sugar levels. When you cut back on sugar the collagen can effectively work on your skin tissues making it look plump. Research shows that reduced sugar intake can lessen sagging and signs of aging.
2. Cutting sugar intake reduces tooth decay
It is common knowledge that sugar is not good for our teeth. This was first discovered by Aristotle an ancient Greek philosopher. Therefore reducing your sugar intake to not more than 10% of the daily calories reduces the risk to tooth decay.
3. Reduces the risk to diabetes
As we have observed that cutting back on sugar intake keeps off excess pounds, you will eventually reduce the risk to type 2 Diabetes. Although eating too little still increases the risk of the same disease. This is because excess demand can put the pressure on insulin-producing cells, causing them to malfunction, leading to diabetes.
4. Increases lasting energy
Since added sugars are digested very fast and enter the bloodstream, they cannot give adequate energy to your body. However, when you cut down on sugar and eat foods high in protein and healthy fats; you will have a steady supply of energy. This is because those foods are not digested fast.
5. Reduces abdominal fat
Research shows that cutting back on sugar can reduce abdominal fat. With excess sugar, fats get pack around the liver and abdomen, due to high volumes of fructose in sugar. Sugar is part glucose and part fructose but fructose is digested in the liver. When you eat a lot of sugar, the liver is overloaded with fructose and it is forced to turn it into fat which is store around the organs like liver, intestines giving rise to abdominal fat.
6. Cutting back on sugar increases heart health
Cutting back on sugar ensures life free of heart diseases. A 2014 study showed that people who got 17% to 21% of their calories from sweet foods had a 38% higher risk of dying from heart diseases compared with individuals who got 8% of calories from sweet foods.
Is it healthy to cut out sugar completely?
We have seen that sugar, most especially added sugar is the leading cause of lifestyle diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, tooth decay, liver problems, and obesity.
But most health experts suggest that cutting sugar completely out of the diet is not the best way to go. This can make your health worse. Low or no sugar intake can lower blood sugar levels, causing dangerous symptoms.
Dieticians also say that our bodies require sugar as part of the body’s preferred fuel. They insist that instead of added sugar; having natural sugar such as whole fruits as they are a source of fiber and other nutrients.
Can I have sugar and still lose weight?
Eating too much sugar is like telling your body to store more fat. That said, Sugar exists in both added and natural form but with healthy eating and high-intensive exercise one can burn out the calories stored as fat from the sugar and still achieve the weight loss goal.
What are the side effects of not having sugar in your diet?
About completely cutting out sugar either for weight loss or for any other reasons;
If you’re the kind of person who normally does dessert and a cup of tea a very after dinner, quitting may not be an easy road. It will come with side effects. Research shows that when people quit sugar, they experience effects similar to those faced by drug addicts when they stop using drugs. These include;
- Gastrointestinal distress
- Brain fog and irritability
Is honey considered sugar?
Honey and sugar are carbohydrates and calorie-dense sweeteners. However, the differences may be in areas like:
- Honey is sweeter than sugar which means you might need less of it.
- Honey has more calories per measurement for example if you decide to use a teaspoon.
- Sugar has less calories than honey does
- Honey contains; enzymes, amino acids, Vitamin B and C, and anti-oxidants.
- Sugar may be harder to digest than honey
You can read more about honey from the blog at healthline.
The consumption of high amounts of added sugar has been linked to many lifestyle diseases such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, and blood pressure.
This risk can be reduced by cutting down on added sugar. This can be done by going for natural sugar such as fruits. Fruits are rich in fiber, nutrients and above all, they are absorbed slowly in the bloodstream compared to added sugar.
Always check those labels on the drinks or packaged foods to know the level of sugar before you buying. You can also consider making your snacks or meals to effectively monitor your sugar intake.
Subscribe for weekly insights on faster weight loss and good health.