Often I see people trying to reduce their weight by only focusing on fat and calorie restrictions. While those two steps can help (eliminating bad fats and increasing good fats…a whole different post) watching carbohydrates through sugars intake is critical to a healthy metabolism.
When I challenge clients to limit their diets to 60 grams of carbs per day I’m often met optimism. I usually hear things like “I don’t eat that many carbs” or “I eat really good foods” or “I’m a vegetarian”. Most think it will be smooth sailing until they start the first day count. When I contact them for their first coaching session, if they haven’t called, texted or emailed already, the first thing I hear is “DO YOU KNOW HOW MANY CARBS ARE IN [insert random food]!!!” Yes. Yes I do.
The sad truth is many processed foods, including healthy products, contain large amounts of refined sugars. These sugars (carbs) are often hidden in many of the foods and drinks we consume every day without us even knowing it.
A few sugar facts
From a weight loss perspective it is very important to know a few facts about sugar and how to recognize it.
The following list details describes facts about sugar:
Labels. Read them!! Sugar comes in a variety of fancy names. It can be listed as brown sugar, palm sugar, cane sugar, corn syrup, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, glucose (dextrose), high-fructose corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, lactose, maltose, molasses, raw sugar, (table) sugar (sucrose), syrup.
What ever it’s “called” doesn’t really matter. Sugar is sugar. All should limited or avoided.
The Evil Effects of Sugar
Simple sugars are EMPTY calories. On their own, have no nutritional value (no vitamins, minerals, etc). So why eat them?
Sugar Increases our blood sugar and insulin levels which can cause our bodies to begin storing and stop burning fat. This can lead to insulin resistance and metabolic system (ie diabetes)
Eating sugar frequently is the usual
culprit of those highs and lows of hunger. Eliminating sugar is the first step to normalizing cravings.
Sugar is known to suppress the immune system. Eating or drinking 100 grams (8 tbsp.) of sugar, the equivalent of one 12-ounce can of soda, can reduce the ability of white blood cells to kill germs by forty percent. The immune-suppressing effect of sugar starts less than thirty minutes after ingestion and may last for five hours. In contrast, the ingestion of complex carbohydrates, or starches, has no effect on the immune system.
Sugar also known to:
-Disrupts the body’s mineral balance.
-Contributes to hyperactivity, anxiety and depression.
– Damage The kidneys .
– Increases the risk of coronary heart disease (#1 killer of women in the US)
– Contributes to diabetes.(insulin resistance)
– Contributes to osteoporosis.(eliminates minerals that support bond health)
– Causes food allergies.
You’re probably thinking, “But I don’t eat that much sugar”
That may be very true for some people but the vast majority of Americans do. Many people don’t realize is that most of the sugar in our diet comes from the processed foods that we eat, not the sugar that we add to our cooking and meals.
Ok. You want to lose weight by reducing sugar. What should you do?
– Eliminate. Learn to enjoy foods that are naturally sweet, without added sugar.
– Replace. when cooking or baking, reduce the amount of sugar indicated in a recipe. Use only 2/3 to 3/4 of a cup and replace omitted sugar with an equal amount of non-fat dry milk to increase the nutritional value. You may also experiment with products like stevia or fruit substitutes.
– Spice it up! Use spices and herbs to promote flavor often added by sugar. Aromatic spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger will enhance the flavor of foods naturally.
– READ the labels!!! Take your time shopping and read labels!!! You will soon realize the amount of hidden sugar in processed foods. Remember to watch for those fancy sugar names!
When reading “Nutrition Facts” labels remember that 7 grams of sugar is equal to around 1 tablespoon of sugar.
Energy bars and drinks are a common source of hidden sugar – look for ones that have less than 12-15 grams of sugar per serving.
– Be Aware! “Diet foods” like reduced fat and fat-free products use sugars to often mask the loss of flavor when fat is removed.
– Coffee Breaks can be deadly! Read nutritional values on your favorite coffee chain drinks of choice. You’ll probably be shocked to see some drinks can meet your daily carb intake! Choose different options, light syrup or add the sugar yourself to control the carbs. I usually carry stevia packs with me to avoid this.
– ADD! Mix fresh fruit into plain yogurt. Many fruity yogurts are loaded with added sugar. Just remember fructose turns instantly to fat!
– Live and Learn. Switch from those high sugar fruits to those lower in sugar like grapefruit, strawberries and other berries. Choose fruit when it’s in season and it shouldn’t need any added sweetness.
– Avoid Artificial substitutes! They are bad. You probably already know that!
Be aware. Count your carbs. Change your life!