Want to know one of the quickest ways to lose weight and get in better shape?
Cut out added sugars and artificial sweeteners from your diet! I know, it doesn’t sound like much fun, but refined and added sugars are a major killer to your body, fitness, and weight. And they’re hurting you much more than you realize. Even if you’re a naturally skinny person who can eat whatever you want, refined sugar and carbs are still like a poison to your body. Sugar is addictive, it creates cell damage, can negatively impact learning and memory, and can cause headaches, mood swings, and cravings. Yikes!
FIT TIP #27: Eliminate Added & Refined Sugars
If you’re not aware by now, science discovered long ago that the whole “fat makes you fat” concept was way off and based on poorly designed research. Sugar is what makes you fat (as well as overeating, of course), as well as processed carbs that turn into sugar once in your body.
When you eat sugar, your body stops burning fat so you can use that glucose for energy. Insulin is released, intended to shuttle that sugar into your muscles for energy. Which works great if you are about to run a marathon, or just completed a serious bodybuilding workout. However, most of the time we’re eating sugar, we’re sitting in front of the TV or at our desks, and using almost no energy. So rather than get used, that sugar just gets converted into fat storage for future use.
Why Sugar is Bad For Your Health
Beyond just hurting your appearance and causing weight gain, sugar can also contribute to the following health conditions:
- Fatty liver
- Decreased energy and slumps
- Type 2 diabetes
- Leaky gut
- Some cancers
- Joint pain & inflammation
- Cell damage
- Mood swings
- Cravings & addictions
Good Sugars & How Much to Eat
Now, just to be clear, I’m not talking about sugar found in fruit, vegetables, milk, etc. Naturally occurring sugars(fructose) are okay, and it’s highly likely you won’t overeat those. Though, do be aware of how much fruit you eat in one sitting if you’re a fruit lover, since it does still spike your insulin.
Foods like honey and pure maple syrup are kind of the next level of acceptable sugar, because they are also natural and go through very little processing. However, these can also be considered “added” because we add them into things like oatmeal, cookies, pancakes, etc. They’re a much better alternative for sweets, coffee, and baking, but they are still loaded with calories and sugar, so they should be used in limited quantities. I still prefer baking with Stevia and monkfruit whenever possible. I would suggest always measuring how much you’re using and checking the nutrition label for what a serving size is considered.
I also recommend tracking how much sugar you eat in a day, and keeping it around 25 grams. If you use honey or something like that, then make sure before you eat you’re not going over your day’s allowance.
Sugars to Avoid
Sugar is good at hiding out in foods (well, companies are good at coming up with new marketing terms and confusing names). Ingredient lists may not just say “sugar”. Look for names like cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup, brown sugar, powdered sugar, dextrose, evaporated cane juice, maltose, fructose. Also, skip artificial sweeteners! These are just as bad for you, if not worse because they’re chemically made, and can also cause you to crave sugar. These are things like sucralose, aspartame, Splenda, saccharin, Sweet ‘N Low, acesulfame potassium, Equal (as well as others)
Here are some common places you’ll find sugar that you might not expect. Always read nutrition labels, and if sugar is added (not naturally occurring), skip it and find a more natural version. At the least, sugar should be listed near the very bottom of the ingredient list. If it’s one of the first ingredients, there’s way too much in it – put it down!
Unexpected Foods Containing Sugar
- Pasta sauce
- Salad dressing
- Granola and granola bars
- Ketchup, BBQ sauce
- Dried fruit
- Flavored oatmeal
- Canned soup
- Protein bars
- Restaurant food
- Energy drinks
- Coffee drinks
- Some milks
And here are some more obvious places you’ll find them, but it doesn’t hurt to list them to make sure we’re all aware. Cut these out entirely, and save only for special occasions:
- Cookies, brownies
- Cakes, pies, pastries, donuts
- Candy, candy bars, chocolate
- Fruit rolls/roll-ups
- Pop tarts
- Ice cream, frozen yogurt
- Tea (sweetened)
You can also make your own versions of these at home – like sourdough bread, salad dressings, cookies, and pasta sauce. Other good options are to swap flavored varieties for plain – oatmeal, yogurt, dried fruit. This is one of the most effective ways to change your body, so start this fit tip right away!