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Cutting out sugar is a popular weight-loss method, but also a method that promises better health and a better life. The truth is that sugar harms our health in many ways, and contributing to weight gain, and with that preventing you from losing those last couple of pounds, is why we all need to make this change in our lives. In the following article, we will discuss the various ways that sugar is reflecting negatively on our health and weight loss journey to help you better understand why it represents a change that we need to make.
Over the years, more and more harmful effects of sugar on human health have been discovered. From increasing the risk of heart disease and diabetes type 2, causing acne breakouts, to even increase the risk of certain types of cancer and depression, sugar is guilty of many health issues that we are facing today (1, 2, 3). You see, sugar is able to trick our brain into wanting more and more sugar over time. A little sugar has not hurt anybody, but even the strong-willed have fallen under the pressure that consuming sugar can create. Now let’s discuss how eating sugar if harming your weight loss process.
Manufacturers often use added sugars and artificial sweeteners to improve the taste of their products. This, however, does not serve any purpose regarding our health. Fructose, corn syrup, and cane sugar are all examples of added sugars that you will find if you look into some of the products in your kitchen. Perhaps these sugars really do improve the taste of our food, but they come with a lot of calories and no nutrients whatsoever. Two tablespoons of corn syrup introduce around 120 calories and no nutrients (4). That is why you will often find them being referred to as empty calories (5).
Lacking many nutrients is not the only problem when we are talking about added sugars. There is also the fact that foods that contain high amounts of added sugars and artificial sweeteners are often not that fillings as we would like them to be. These foods often lack the one nutrient that is considered to be your friend during the weight loss process – protein. A high-protein diet is bound to keep you away from any excess calories throughout the day, especially if you consume a protein-rich breakfast (6, 7). These foods often lack the needed amount of fiber, which is another important nutrient when you are trying to lose weight since it keeps you full longer and reduces your appetite (8). But since the foods with added sugars have little to no protein or fiber, they have a negative impact on the appetite and fullness, increasing your calorie intake day after day (9).
Foods that have a high level of added sugars are more likely to cause you to overeat. Because added sugars activate the pleasure centers and reward centers in the brain, they directly enhance your intake of sugars but also your intake of calories in general (10). Research has suggested that fructose is particularly guilty for enhancing the production of the hunger-promoting hormone – ghrelin, all while it is influencing the levels of the appetite-suppressing hormone – peptide YY. This is causing you to become hungrier and more likely to satisfy your hunger by consuming more sugars and empty calories, thus leading to overeating, and with time to obesity (11).
As we mentioned earlier, eating foods that are high in sugars, make you more susceptible to numerous health issues among which are obesity, cancer, depression, diabetes type 2, heart disease, high cholesterol levels, etc. Numerous studies have explored the link between foods with added sugars and obesity, and they all have come to the same conclusion – sugary foods lead to overweight and obesity over time, and this would include the consummation of sugar-sweetened beverages as well (12, 13)
We all know the negative effect that foods high in sugar have on our blood sugar levels, causing them to increase. When you consume these foods on a daily level, you risk increasing your blood sugar levels permanently, leading to a chronic condition known as hyperglycemia (14). One of the negative effects of hyperglycemia on our health is weight gain and obesity. But sugary foods have an impact on our insulin levels as well, causing insulin resistance to develop. When your cells stop responding to insulin, the fat storage increases, thus resulting in an increase of abdominal fat which represents a problem to a lot of women today (15, 16)
Anyone who is interested in losing weight in a healthy, controlled way, without the risk of gaining the lost weight back or starving themselves for the purpose of weight loss is recommended to peruse a low-carb diet. A low-carb diet restricts the number of carbs and focuses on a high intake of proteins, healthy fats, and fiber. But what if we cut sugar completely out of our diet? What will happen if we free our body from the previously mentioned harmful effects of sugar? In the following, we will share five beneficial effects that are expected to occur once you have cut sugar from your diet.
One of the most significant beneficial effects of cutting sugar from your diet is a smaller waistline. This is the perfect weight loss method if you want to get rid of your belly fat. Because you will be cutting out sugar, your body will have to find another way to fuel itself. And when there is no sugar, there is more than enough belly fat that, with time, will get burned in order to create the energy that you need (17). Of course, you will need to introduce regular workout in your everyday routine, but cutting out sugar is the first step towards the toned abs of your dreams.
Added sugars represent simple carbs that, once introduced in your bloodstream, are easily digested and cause an instant blood sugar spike. However, once those carbs are digested, you will experience a drop in the blood sugar levels and a drop in your energy levels as well. If you keep introducing simple carbs all day long, you will repeatedly experience this effect, thus experiencing low productivity, low concentration, and impaired memory. However, when you eat lots of protein and fiber, you are providing slow-releasing energy to your body. They represent a long-lasting energy source that comes with a reduced intake of calories and a positive feeling about yourself (18).
We talked about how dangerous insulin resistance can be, which is why it should be your goal to keep those insulin levels as stable as possible. Once you stabilize your insulin levels, the fat storage will reduce as you will be using fat as the main source of energy instead of sugar. Only a healthy diet filled with lots of protein and fiber can help you accomplish this goal. Cutting down sugar will directly help you lose those unwanted body pounds and get the body of your dreams.
Once you cut out sugar from your diet, you will directly cut the risk of diabetes and obesity, not to mention all of the chronic diseases that we have discussed so far. Cutting out sugar will help you lose weight, but what is perhaps more important, it will help improve your health in general.
Because eating sugary foods has been proved to cause increased production of the hormone-promoting hormone, ghrelin, it is easy to understand how consuming these foods leads to common cravings, often cravings that require every more sugary food to be consumed. So by cutting your sugar intake, you will directly cut these cravings in their roots. You will no longer feel the need to snack on candy or chocolate in-between meals or late at night since you will fill full from your well-balanced meal that has no sugars, but lots of proteins and fiber instead.
Now that you hopefully have understood how dangerous sugar really is regarding your physical and mental health, but also your weight loss journey, we thought that it would be a good idea to share some simple yet effective tips on how to cut sugar from your diet. You need to understand that what we are talking about here is not some weight loss tip, but a tip on how to improve your diet and live a healthier and happier life, while weight loss is just one of the many benefits that are to come with a change such as this one.
What we are talking about is a lifestyle change; it will take a bit more than a few days to adapt your body and mind to such a big change in your life. You would need to make this change gradually as you are transforming your diet from a diet filled with sugars to a no-sugar diet. Start by eliminating the obvious sugar-sources such as candy, cakes, muffins, and baked goods, and allow your body to adapt to that before you proceed to look into the hidden sugar-sources.
Finding and using some good sugar alternatives can be really helpful, especially at the beginning of the process of eliminating sugar from your diet. This will help you to adapt better without even noticing that you are no longer using your normal sugar-sources to satisfy your sugar cravings day after day. We would recommend trying stevia, honey, maple syrup, and molasses to help on the path of eliminating the bad sugar from your diet (19).
If you are about to exclude sugar from your diet, then you better start reading the labels to discover any hidden sugar. Added sugar can be easily found in most canned and frozen food. Even if it is canned or frozen fruits and veggies that you are buying, chances are that you will be getting added sugar as well. Make sure that the label says “no added sugars” before you make decide to buy the product.
Sugary beverages such as soda, sweetened tea, coffee, fruit juices, and energy drinks represent some of the biggest sources of added sugars. Buying these drinks harms your wallet, your diet, and your health. Allow yourself to save money by preparing coffee, tea, smoothies, and juices at home instead of buying them. That way, you will know what ingredients exactly go into your drinks instead of relying on what the manufacturer promises you.
It takes a bit more than giving up your favorite energy drink or preparing your smoothie at home. One of the key methods that will help you eliminate added sugars from your diet completely is meal prepping, and that means cooking at home. Of course, you are allowed to go out for dinner or lunch, but you will have to be more careful about the meal that you are choosing. And regarding any other meal of the day, you are highly recommended to cook at home. Using fresh fruits and veggies, clean protein, whole foods, and healthy fats will help you eliminate sugar, deliver many nutrients to your body, and actually satisfy your hunger so that you do not have to starve yourself in order to lose weight.
The added sugars that are found in many foods and drinks are our health's worst enemy, including our weight loss process. If you want to lose weight, you need to dedicate yourself to eliminating sugars from your diet in order to pursue the dream of having a healthy, toned body and strong self-confidence. Use the tips that we provided you with and make the step to improve your life starting today.