5 Reasons and tips to decrease sugar in your diet!
I think most of us know at this stage that sugar is not particularly good for us. While some of us might put on weight when we allow our sugar consumption to increase others have far worse reactions: insulin resistance and diabetes being two of the more serious results of chronic over-consumption of sugar.
Cutting sugar out completely is a tall order but it will suit many people best, however you can also simply decrease your intake and see results. Follow our plan to minimise it……
Know what foods/products contain sugar.
Firstly, we need to appreciate that all carbohydrates break down into sugars and are used as our immediate energy source. Simple sugars then, are those that are contained in sweets and desserts. The difference lies in how they are broken down and how quickly they infiltrate our system. Complex carbohydrates are broken down more slowly and calories are burnt during this process. Thus they are a slightly longer lasting fuel source. Simple sugars are broken down instantly which means that they need to be utilized quickly or they will be stored. Not good! This brings me to my next point. Note that even savoury processed foods like soups and breads contain added sugar to increase shelf life and improve taste.
Understand the hormonal reaction to sugar intake.
Consumption of sugar or carbohydrates, which we now know are broken down in sugars, leads to an increase in insulin in the body. Insulin spikes are detrimental to weight loss and weight maintenance because they lead to a constant increase and decrease of blood sugars which make us more inclined to reach for quick sugar fixes and perpetuate the entire cycle. This leaves us in a constant battle with our bodies and then we feel lethargic and fatigued constantly.
Fruits and vegetable are sugars too.
However, there is a difference. They are also full of nutrients and minerals our bodies need to function optimally. They are natural and therefore our bodies handle them differently to refined sugars. That said there is an argument to be made for decreasing fruit intake during a weight loss phase and reintroducing it at maintenance but this will depend on one’s own personality. Most vegetables on the other hand are so low calorie and some satiating that they can and should be consumed in high quantities for health and weight control.
Know your personality type.
Some people can minimise sugar to a healthy level without cutting it out entirely. Others function better and control their health and weight better if they cut refined sugars out of their diet completely. Note that this is not the same as cutting carbohydrates which is incredible difficult and not entirely advisable as most of us use carbohydrates as our primary energy source. Cutting sugar entirely may work best on a temporary basis during a weight loss phase, or indeed as a permanent change to your diet. This again will depend on your personality. Are you generally more successful if you go cold turkey or do you need an occasional reward at the end of the week? Either approach can work in terms of minimising sugar in your diet.
Like any dietary or lifestyle change, the key to success is in preparation. If you plan to cut refined sugar in the form of sweet treats only, it may help to learn some recipes as substitutes. Although I would remember that some of these can be very calorific also so bake wisely. If you hope to cut all ‘sweet’ treats out, distraction can be your best friend: leave the kitchen, go for a walk, and/or drink herbal teas throughout the evening. The herbal teas not only distract you, they also hydrate you and have some health benefits. Read the labels though: remember there are hidden sugars in a multitude of products. Do a weekly food shop and make sure you have healthy options at home. Mostly, when we are prepared we are very disciplined, the problems occur when we have an empty fridge! Eat small meals and snacks throughout the day so that we minimise blood sugar imbalances and over eating due to hunger.
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