Sugar is basically the devil. With the latest research nowadays, more and more people are realizing that it is actually sugar, not fat, that is leading to high levels of obesity, heart problems, diabetes, and so on in the U.S.
Decades ago, in the 1970s to be specific, there was a fear of fat. What caused this? The government. During this time, the economy was doing really well so many Americans were enjoying lavish meals consisting of steak smothered with sauce and butter, etc. Statistics reveal that Senator members were dying earlier, at a higher rate. Eight U.S Senators died in office because of heart disease between the 1960s and 1970s (Source). Senator McGovern decided to call a hearing to set some new guidelines when it comes to the American diet. One of the goals listed was to reduce fat drastically, and instead eat more carbs. Americans were basically told the following message: fat=bad, and carbs=good. Due to these new guidelines, more people started to buy “fat-free” foods over regular ones. Fats however, are actually not the culprit. Sugar is. And when this craze happened, all of the higher fat products started to be replaced with sugar to make up for the lost in texture and flavor.
Due to this low-fat craze, there are now a plethora of products that are labeled “low-fat” or “fat-free” that entice people into purchasing them over the regular product, but as I mentioned, these items are actually much more processed and worse for your overall health. This is because they are full of sugars and chemicals to replace the lost flavor. We need to avoid added sugar, not added fat in order to keep weight off, boost energy levels, assist the immune system and support hormonal function at a cellular level.
Sugar is incredibly inflammatory to the body. There have been many studies that link a diet high in added sugar to obesity, insulin resistance, gut permeability and inflammation. Too much sugar causes the production of advanced glycation end products to form in the body, which leads to oxidative stress. It causes higher bad LDL cholesterol, as well (Source). It is interesting that the government was promoting reducing something like egg yolks, but promoting incredibly unhealthy “low fat” sugary products like bread, pastries, yogurts, puddings that are linked directly to heart disease (the exact problem they were trying to prevent in the first place).
Not all sugars are created equal, and many marketers use this to their advantage to sell natural products. Many “healthy” food items still contain sugar, although this form of sugar is often listed as “natural cane sugar” “molasses” “honey” “coconut sugar” “palm sugar” and the list goes on and on. These ingredients are still sugar, and will cause inflammation in the body. The only thing that changes is the processing of the sugar, not the fact it is still sugar.
I encourage you guys to watch the documentary Fed Up, as it goes into how our nation became so hooked on sugar, and gives practical ways to watch out for sneaky sugar and make healthier choices on a day to day basis.
What about fruit?
I am a fan of fruit and I incorporate plenty of it in my diet. With that being said, it is still important to watch how much fruit you are consuming in a day. This is a switch I have recently made in my own diet. I used to eat upwards of four to five bananas in a single day. I have found that reducing the amount of higher sugar fruits in my diet (mango, dates, bananas, grapes) and instead consuming more vegetables in place of those. Additionally, I try to choose lower sugar fruits like blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries instead of higher sugar fruits when I want to snack.
Without further ado, let’s get onto the sugar reduction hacks.
- Replace added sugar with organic stevia extract (sweeter than sugar, and 0 calories). For example, instead of adding sugar into your coffee, tea or smoothies, use 1-2 drops of stevia instead.
- Avoid processed foods, and sneaky sources of sugar. The majority of junk food and packaged items come with sugar in the ingredients to increase the taste factor. Items such as ketchup, barbecue sauce, dressings, yogurt have a lot of added sugar and should be avoided as much as possible.
- Cook from home to avoid the added sugar in restaurant meals and fast food places. You would be shocked at the amount of sugar that creeps into unassuming items, from Lo Mein noodles, barbecue chicken, spaghetti with meatballs, and even steak dishes.
- Read all ingredient labels. Act like you are a detective. Get those spectacles out. Even “healthy” things like oatmeal cups, protein bars, yogurts and so on contain ridiculous amounts of added sugar in them. As I mentioned, “cane syrup” “cane syrup solids” and “palm sugar” are still sugars even if they are organic and unrefined.
- Follow a paleo or keto diet to adhere to these guidelines I have found for myself personally that following a paleo diet that is focused on lean meats, fish, healthy fats, vegetables, and fruits has helped me drastically reduce the amount of sugar I am consuming without even trying. By following this diet, you focus on foods that come from mother nature only. The foods nature provides for us are naturally low in sugars, and high in minerals, nutrients, antioxidants, and powerful healing compounds. When you switch to this diet, your sugar cravings will reduce so much you will find you aren’t craving those sugary desserts or sodas anymore. A great place to start is the Whole 30 diet.
- Replace higher sugar fruits with more vegetables. Vegetables have a much lower sugar content than fruit. Something I’ve been doing recently is blending cauliflower in my smoothies along with half of one banana, so that I can use less fruit and sneak in some vegetables. You can also try this with zucchini. In general, try to eat high sugar fruits before a workout so that the excess sugar is utilized by your body right away.
- EAT YOUR FATS! Simply put, we need fats to function. Healthy fats support our hormones, supports healthy glowing skin, protect our inner organs, give us long-lasting energy, and so much more. Consider taking a cod liver oil supplement and consume healthy oils like avocado oil, olive oil, grapeseed oil (avoid vegetable oils at all costs), avocados, sprouted nuts and seeds, and coconut products. Fat actually helps us keep the weight off in the long-run, and your body will thank you for increasing the amount of healthy fats in your diet.