What to hear something crazy? The average American eats about 22-30 teaspoons of sugar a day (1), amounting to about 77 pounds of sugar per year. Mind-blowing, isn’t it? The human body wasn’t made to handle all that sugar, and that means that even if you think you have cut sugars from your diet, you could still be eating much more than what’s beneficial for you. Now, imagine what that sugar is doing to your weight loss efforts? Everyday products on the grocery store shelves are packed with hidden sources of sugar, which is your weight loss goal’s arch-rival.
Today, we’re going to discuss how to finally defeat this invisible enemy, so you can start owning your transformation.
Why Is Excessive Sugar Bad For You?
The human body can safely metabolize about 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day. Most people, whether they are aware of it or not, consume three times that amount. Whenever the body has too much of one thing, whether it’s sugars, fats, or proteins, that excess will be converted into fat. It doesn’t matter if you’re working out or not. Excess nutrients become excess fat. This leads to metabolic diseases and more, such as:
- Impeded weight loss efforts, since the body is converting all that sugar to fat.
- Damages the liver – too much sugar is like too much alcohol because the liver metabolizes it the same way.
- Affects insulin and leptin signaling by failing to suppress the hunger hormone, ghrelin.
- Causes metabolic issues, such as weight gain, abdominal obesity, increased LDL cholesterol, high blood glucose levels, high triglycerides, and high blood pressure.
- Increases uric acidity, which increases your risk of heart and kidney diseases.
- Too much fructose has been known to increase inflammation, due to the Maillard reaction of proteins.
- May cause Alzheimer’s disease.
Keep in mind that sugar isn’t inherently bad. Sugar, in a more complex form, is a carbohydrate, which you need to survive, but adding too much processed sugars to your diet can harm you when you’re not burning them off.
Recipe For Fat Gain
Knowing all that covered above, here’s how sugar increases fat:
- Fructose raises insulin in the body by causing insulin resistance. This increases the amount of fat in fat cells.
- Fructose causes resistance to the satiety hormone, leptin. This leads to eating more food and lowering metabolism.
- Sugar induces an addiction where the body seeks out more sugar.
A List of Hidden Sugars In Your Food
According to SugarScience.org, over 70% of processed foods contain sugar that has been hidden by more 60 different names. Here is a list of sugars that can show up in your food:
- Brown sugar
- Cane sugar and cane sugar extract
- Cane juice
- Caster sugar
- Coffee crystals
- Turbinado sugar
- Golden syrup
- Invert sugar – a mix of pure glucose and fructose often used in baking recipes
- Date sugar
- Fruit juice concentrate (fructose)
- Grape juice concentrate or sugar
- Pear juice concentrate
- Beet sugar
- Corn sugar
- High fructose corn syrup
- Agave syrup
- Barley malt syrup – often used in baking and brewing
- Brown rice syrup
- Malt extract
- Maple sugar
- Palm sugar
- Rice malt syrup
Some chemical names for sugars you might find listed in ingredients include:
Look over the nutrition information and ingredients in the foods you pick up at the market. You’ll be shocked to find how many items contain multiple hidden sugars.
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For example, sriracha sauce has sugar listed as the first ingredient. A cup of Greek yogurt could have evaporated cane juice, fruit and vegetable juice concentrate, and sugar added in, turning a healthy snack into a sugar-laden mess. Even a nutritional bar that you assume would be good for you can have 22 grams of sugar that comes from brown rice syrup, dried cane syrup, chocolate, cocoa butter, cane syrup, and date paste (yes, that is all in a single “protein bar”).
How to Limit Sugar and Start Losing Weight
Sugar cramping your weight loss goals? Don’t worry. Limiting sugar and losing weight is not difficult, once you start cutting foods from your diet that are secretly upping your sugar intake. Limit consumption of refined carbohydrates, like frozen waffles, bagels, and white rice and bread. Instead, eat whole grains, sprouted breads, and brown rice.
Keep your fructose consumption below 25 grams per day, including the fructose from whole fruit. Because fruit is naturally high in fructose, it could increase your uric acid levels.
To help accelerate the sugar detoxification, you can add fermented foods, like kimchi, unsweetened yogurt, kefir from grass milk, kombucha, and fermented vegetables to your diet. These foods have bacteria that help break down sugars and decrease the burden on your liver.
You should also stop drinking sugary beverages. Take a look at your protein shakes, especially store bought ones. Avoid the concoctions at Starbucks, and make your own coffee. Stop drinking fruit juice, which is loaded with sugar. Instead, drink plenty of water.
Lastly, increase your intake of healthy fats, like omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats. Your body doesn’t only need fat to survive, fat is great for promoting satiety, which will keep those sugar cravings at bay. You can get these fats from foods like raw nuts, avocado, free-range eggs, olive oil, coconut oil, and wild salmon.
It deserves repeating: The food you eat could be sabotaging your efforts to cut sugar and lose weight. With sugar hiding in nearly everything that you pick up at the grocery store, being vigilant and reading nutrition labels is more important than ever before. You need to be cautious because those sugars add up. Keep track of what you consume, refine your diet to include less processed, sugary items, and you can transform your body in no time.
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