Inside Scoop: Here’s exactly how you can cut down on sugar without feeling deprived.
This post was submitted by David Dack, an established fitness blogger and running expert behind the blog Runners Blueprint.
According to the American Heart Association, Americans consume, on average, 25 to 30 teaspoons of sugar each day—that translates to 400-500 calories from sugar per day, and stands for three to four times the suggested daily amount.
But that’s not all, according to the Food & Drug Administration, about 15 to 20 percent of the typical American diet comes from sugar.
We should all be alarmed, and here’s why.
Excess sugar consumption affects almost every one of your major organs, form your liver, skin, eyes, to the heart, and kidneys. This has resulted in an increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and even cancer.
That being said, sugar may be one of the most addictive substances out there—as addictive (if not more so) than hard drugs such as heroin and cocaine.
Did you know that your genetics can also affect how likely you are to crave sugar?
So, we could all use some realistic tips to cut down on sugar consumption without feeling deprived. In today’s post, I’ll share with you a step by step process to help reduce your sugar intake without going crazy.
Let’s do this.
HOW TO CUT DOWN ON SUGAR
Read the Labels
Sugar is added to virtually every highly processed food product out there, and it’s not always easy to catch it.
Surveys found that out of about 600,000 food items assessed, roughly 80 percent contain added sugar in one form or the other.
Added sugar can turn up in many unexpected places, including foods that don’t taste sweet, such as salad dressings, ketchup, pasta sauces, even peanut butter.
Build the habit of regularly checking the ingredient list before tossing the item into your cart.
The main offenders to look out for include:
- Brown sugar
- Corn sugar
- High fructose corn syrup
- Fruit juice concentrate
- Molasses sucrose
- Cane sugar
- Raw sugar
- Corn syrup
- Turbinado sugar
- Maple syrup
- Brown rice syrup
- Dried cane syrup
- Fructose corn syrup
- And other words ending in “ose.”
Once you learn the many names of sugar, you’ll quickly realize how much is added in just about anything.
As a general rule, you want to aim for less than 5 grams of sugar per serving for most of your purchases and you should be able to distinguish natural forms of sugar such as ones from whole fruit and dates versus added corn syrup. Here’s 10 healthy packaged foods, and you can download the full list of nutritionist approved packaged products below.
Remove the Junk from your Kitchen
If your kitchen cupboards are loaded with sweet snacks and bites, you’re probably going to indulge—especially after a stressful day at work when your will-power is at its lowest.
Research found that individuals who kept junk food at arm’s reach find it more challenging to maintain or lose weight.
Sift through your fridge, cupboards, or any “secret department” and replace those items with healthier alternatives.
Fill it up with Healthier Alternatives
Once you declare you living premises junk food-free zones, it’s time to find some healthy substitutes for when those cravings strike.
So, what are the makings of healthy snacks? These should be high in lean protein, healthy fats, and fiber but very low on carbs, sugar, and refined grains.
Snacking this way not only keeps you satiated but also helps you meet your daily nutritional needs.
Some healthier options include:
- Pre-chopped veggies and hummus
- Bean dip
- Walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts and other nuts
- Nut butters
- Kale chips
- Dark chocolate
Eat More Protein
Maybe the diet tweak that can help you the most to reduce cravings is to eat more protein.
Not convinced? A study out of Nutrition Journal revealed that people who had protein at breakfast experienced fewer cravings for junk food later in the day.
Protein has got a lot to offer. It triggers the production of the fullness hormone PYY—this regulates hunger and keeps you satisfied longer. The nutrient also limits the release of the hunger hormone Ghrelin.
Try adding the following high-protein sources to your meals:
- Legumes such as lentils, beans, and chickpeas
- Wild fish like salmon, mackerel, etc.
- Greek yogurt
- Nuts and seeds
- Whey protein, from grass-fed animals
- Cheese (keep to 1 oz. per day)
- Grass-fed beef
Eat More Non-Starchy Veggies
Nobody can argue against eating veggies.
Starchy vegetables such as potatoes definitely have a place in a healthy and balanced diet, but if it’s the only veggies you’re eating then you’re missing out on all the antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and beneficial plant-compounds that the rainbow of veggies can offer.
Add some of these non-starchy low carb vegetables to your diet:
- Brussels sprouts
- Baby corn
- Swiss chard
The time you spend under the sheets can also affect your sugar cravings.
Research revealed that subjects who upped their nightly sleep reported fewer cravings throughout the day. Not only that, but they also reduced their intake by roughly 10 grams the day following a good night’s sleep.
So, what’s the link between sleep debt and sugar cravings?
The reason why sleep affects your eating habits may boil down to your appetite-regulating hormones—mainly ghrelin and leptin. These are negatively impacted by sleep deprivation, causing you to crave high-calorie source of energy that often comes from sugar.
Make it a rule to get at least seven to nine hours of sleep per night. This should be enough to balance your hunger hormones and keep your cravings at bay.
There you have it! The above guidelines are all you need to get you started on a healthier lifestyle by cutting down on sugar. All you need to do is to gradually introduce these changes to your lifestyle. The rest is just detail.
I’d love to hear your suggestions and questions in the section below.
In the meantime, thank you for dropping by.
Keep eating healthy.
David Dack is an established fitness blogger and running expert. When he’s not training for his next marathon, he’s doing research and trying to help as many people as possible to share his fitness philosophy. Check his blog Runners Blueprint for more info.