By 2017 we’ve all started to realize that sugar (white carbs), not fat, is the real culprit in making people fat (and if you haven’t, here’s a primer on how that all works). Most of us know that sugary beverages like soda are the fast track to weight gain, and that cutting carbs (not necessarily eliminating, but decreasing) will help you lose body fat.
But let’s also be real – there’s a lot of confusion about what sugar actually is, the differences between the types of sugars on the market, in what ways added versus natural sugars are different, and whether artificial (calorie-free) or natural sugars are “better” for you in the long run.
#AskAmanda is here to save the day – as much as I can, at least – with some not-so-sweet talk on sugars and how they affect your overall health.
First of all, know this: consuming sugar in any amount is not superb for the human body. We need carbs to live, but we don’t need refined sugar (and in fact, studies confirm that our ancestors lived just fine without it) – so when we have it, it hits the system hard and fast. Think I’m kidding? Scientists have found the addictive properties of sugar are similar to that of cocaine – and in fact, even worse.
Second, understand that artificial sugars (Stevia, Truvia, Equal, Sweet N’ Low, aspartame, etc.) are no free pass. In fact, a recent study just found that artificial sweeteners contribute to accumulation of body fat in humans – the exact opposite aim of what these “sugar-free” products claim to do. Artificial sugars are chemical compounds that trick the brain into thinking it’s getting real sugar – and in turn leave the body craving for the sweetness factor it’s not actually getting, which more often than not leads to a binge on actual sugar (backfire!). So what’s the solution?
Just as dairy is best enjoyed sparingly BUT in its full-fat form, sugary treats are similar. If you’re going to have a cookie, have a homemade chocolate-chip one with real chocolate and full brown sugar, rather than a few “fat free” packaged ones stuffed with chemical substitutes and fake sweeteners (again, this will only trigger cravings for real sweetness in the end). Unlike dairy, sugar has no redeeming nutritional value – it’s pure additive; pure calories; pure carbohydrate – but used in moderation (there are about 15 calories in one tableside “packet” of white sugar), will not derail a diet that is otherwise healthy.
A quick note on that, while we’re here – a “healthy” diet is one that is comprised of at least 7-9 servings of vegetables, at least one gram of lean protein (chicken, fish, pork, tofu, lean beef) per kilogram of body weight, at least 2.5 litres of plain water, 1-2 maximum servings of whole grain carbohydrates, and less than 25g total sugar (including fructose, from fruit, lactose, from dairy, and all other added sugars) per day.
If you’re not sure if your diet adds up, it’s worth logging your meals for 3-5 days (use an app like MyFitnessPal if you’re not into transcribing food labels) so you can track thees numbers – specifically your carbs/sugars, veggie servings, and protein counts – and see where you can make real, tangible improvements – pretty sweet after all, huh? 😉
Do you have a sweet tooth – and if so, how do you feed it in moderation?
Yes! It’s my Achilles heel. I guess I feed it sparingly even though it’s a regular thing. Thankfully I”m not obese, but I know sugar is still not good. I limit myself to one “treat” per day at most. A doughnut, cupcake, muffin, or scone.
I have stopped sugaring my Cheerios and other “non-sweetened” cereals. I know most contain at least some sugar. I cut out jelly from my PB &Js years ago. I only make or eat desserts on special occasions. An improvement from my daily desserts during early years of marriage (Ice cream!) and my dozen CC cookies after school in Jr High and High School. So I’m not horribly addicted, but if I stopped giving a sh*t, I could easily get hooked big time.
And I think that’s the key point Chris – if we DON’T “give a sh*t” about our health, it’s easy to fall into the path of least resistance (and for me, that path would be lined with chocolate croissants and ice cream). It’s always a choice!
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