Of all the New Years resolutions out there, “lose weight” is by far the most common.
While there is, and always will be, continuous debate as to the best way to go about losing weight there are things all weight-loss plans recommend, first and foremeost: cutting out processed sugar. This month's how-to guide is all about that sweet crystal and how to reduce your consumption.
Sugar is a tricky little guy – present in many foods naturally but often extracted, purified and added to everything, from flavoured yoghurts to pasta sauce. The ingestion of sugar has been reported as lighting up our brain in the same way the illicit drugs do, which explains why a lot of people find themselves addicted to or craving sugar. As humans we’re also hard-wired to prefer sweet flavours so the logistics of lowering sugar intake isn’t as clear cut as just not eating sweets.
Let me make this very clear – there is NOTHING wrong with consuming simple sugars every now and again. Even eating a little bit everyday won’t hurt as long as you’re eating enough fibre, eating enough protein and staying within your daily caloric limit. There are presently no studies showing any ill effects from simple sugar consumption as long as those three things are being managed.
Completely cutting out processed sugar forever is an unsustainable and unnecessary goal (remember:everything in moderation) but everyone can benefit from minimizing their processed sugar consumption in day-to-day life, especially people looking to shed some extra weight. Here are some tips to reduce your overall sugar consumption:
Look for all types of sugar
It’s easy to find sugar listed on the ingredients label, but make sure you’re keeping an eye out for all types of sweeteners. Sugar comes in many different forms so just because you don’t see the word ‘sugar’ listed, your food could still be filled with added sugars. Words like syrup, nectar, concentrate, maltose, dextrose, fructose (most words that end in –ose are sugars), HFCS and juice are all types of added sugar that are best avoided.
Make snacks at home
Snack foods are often the biggest culprits when it comes to added sugars – think yoghurts, fruit snacks and bakery products. There are tons of healthy snacks you can make yourself – muffins, muesli bars, fruit roll-ups, energy/protein bars, smoothies, even flavouring your own yoghurt – without adding any processed sugars. All of the recipes on The Fit Kitchen Blog are free from processed sugar, or you can use good ol’ Google to find healthy sugar-free recipes.
Cut down gradually
Don’t think you need to go gangbusters and suddenly cut out every gram of added sugar – you’re likely to end up with terrible sugar withdrawls and miserable because you don’t like the new taste of your food. Small steps are the key to success, so if giving everything up at once is not realistic (an that’s totally ok) then work at cutting back gradually – one less can of soft drink, one less sugar in your tea/coffee, reducing the amount of sugar you use in your cooking. That way your tastebuds can adjust over time and you’re less likely to throw in the towel because you think everything tastes gross.
Don’t drink your calories
Almost all commercially made beverages have added sugars – ice teas, juices, flavoured milk, soft drinks and smoothies. The only drink your body needs is water so switching up some of these options for h2O will not only increase your water intake, which is something most people could benefit from, but decrease your intake of added sugars and total calories – meaning you could lose weight without changing any of your other meals! If plain water is too boring try adding slices of citrus or other fruit to make it more interesting.
Replace white sugar with more nutritious options
Let’s get this clear – cutting out processed sugar doesn’t mean cutting out ALL sugar. Naturally occurring sugars are a great way to sweeten your foods because they’re often found in items with other nutritional benefits. Fruit is a particularly good processed sugar substitute, as it’s naturally very sweet but still provides vitamins, minerals and fibre. Maple syrup is another favourite, as is rice syrup and honey.
If you're looking for more delicious recipes to help reduce your intake of refined sugar check out my ebook "Healthy Morning Meals" - 24 recipes free from refined sugar and flour so you can get healthy, lose weight and still eat amazing food!
If you like this article and want recipes, tip and special offers sent straight to your inbox then sign up to the FREE JL Fit Nutrition newsletter:
Fit Kitchen Blog
Healthy recipes for people that love food.
Join the JLFN community to receive your free healthy chocolate recipes e-book
- as well as a regular newsletter with exclusive recipes, tips and special offers - making it easier to reach your health and fitness goals!