How To Cut Back On Sugar Entirely, and Why You Should

03 July 2019

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The case against sugar is mounting, with the Institute for Food, Brain and Behaviour (IFBB) warning about its dangers to your health. The IFBB notes that long-term effect of too much sugar results in insulin resistance, hyperglycaemia and an increased risk of diabetes, fatty liver, heart disease, and neurodegeneration. In fact, just a few months ago, Rose from our Yate Clinic described sugar as being pro-inflammatory, which makes the body work harder to reduce acidity levels. With the negative effects of sugar reason enough for anyone to cut back let’s have a look at how you can do it effectively.

A distinction between sugars

The ‘Sugar and Type 2 Diabetes’ study suggests that a diet with no sugar is impossible. It points out “all life on Earth depends on photosynthesis, capturing energy from the sun to build glucose, fructose and sucrose from atmospheric CO2 and water.” In fact, fruits and vegetables naturally contain sugar. The difference, however, is that sugar from fruit and veg are encased in fibre that slows down the absorption of sugar by the liver and doesn’t cause a spike in insulin levels. Therefore, the issue is with added sugars or free sugars. These are sugars that are added to food during manufacturing, and the most common are refined sugar, corn syrup, and processed honey.

Benefits of cutting back on added sugar notes that there are benefits to cutting back on too much sugar, and increasing your energy level is one of them. While added sugar provides a temporary energy boost, once they are metabolised, your energy level will ultimately crash. Replace added sugar with protein and a bit of fat and you’ll have longer lasting energy.

Another important benefit to cutting back on sugar is reducing belly fat. If you have added sugar on a regular basis it increases the production of insulin. Over time, this can cause the formation of what is called visceral fat. These fat cells deep in the abdomen produce adipokines and adipose hormones, which can cause inflammation in organs and blood vessels. Consequently, it can lead to serious medical conditions such as heart disease and cancer. However, according to professor of nutrition at Harvard, David Ludwig in the aforementioned Healthline article, insulin also causes fat cells to accumulate in other parts of your body, resulting in putting on excess pounds. This in turn, increases your risk of suffering from Type 2 diabetes, a heart attack, or strokes.

It’s no wonder athletes are advised to cut back on their sugar intake, as the weight gain it causes can be hugely detrimental to performance. Take the case of British athlete Laura Kenny, who by her own admission has a sweet tooth. She enjoys chocolate like anyone else, although through discipline she doesn’t allow it to affect her performance. So Kenny knew that repeating her golden run in the Rio Olympics would be much harder, so she resolved to cut back on her guilty pleasure — with the help of her husband and fellow cyclist Jason Kenny. She consulted with a nutritionist, who helped transform her diet. Kenny’s sacrifice paid off, as she won two more gold medals in Rio. Kenny’s case proves that lifestyle changes — eating less chocolate, for instance — can go a long way towards cutting back on sugar. It’s a simple step that you, too, can take.

Another example is Manchester City’s Sergio Agüero, whose early years with City were riddled with injuries. After missing most of the second part of the 2013–2014 season due to calf and hamstring injuries, Agüero visited an Italian doctor. Among the recommended changes was to overhaul his diet, where inflammatory foods like red meat, pasta, and sugar were removed. Agüero followed his doctor’s orders and has since avoided the muscle injuries that once plagued his career. The 30-year-old Agüero is now one of the Premier League’s best strikers. He has become one of the City’s longest serving players, scoring 112 goals in the five years since he cut down on sugar and other inflammatory foods. By seeking professional help, he was given a plan on how to avoid sugar in his diet, which is something you can do, too. Doctors, nutritionists and dieticians, can give you advice on how you can cut down your sugar intake based on your lifestyle.

How do you cut down on added sugars

Cutting down on added sugars may be a little difficult at the beginning, so it’s best to start gradually. In this regard, you can look to Kenny for inspiration and start by avoiding sweets, like chocolate. Just as important, stay away from sugary drinks, and fruit juice. Instead, go for water. Even “diet” or “sugar-free” drinks contain sugar, so it is best to avoid them as well. In terms of what to eat, you can follow BBC Good Food’s cut back on sugar diet plan. It recommends that you prepare your food at home from fresh ingredients, as opposed to dining out. This is the best way to control added sugar, as you are in control of all the ingredients that go into your meals. It is also advisable to avoid processed food, including starchy carbs like bread, cereal, and rice. Also try to eliminate sugar substitutes, like agave syrup and coconut sugar, as they are still sugars, but under a different guise.

Beating an epidemic

Removing sugar completely from your diet isn’t realistic, but you can replace it with natural sugars by eating naturally sweet fruit and vegetables (e.g. sweet potatoes, apples, mangoes, etc.). This will allow your palate to adapt to your new diet, and keep you energised in the process. Despite this advice, the Telegraph reports that Brits consume more than twice as much sugar as the global average, so don’t fall into this same trap. Unfortunately, most people don’t realise that they have an addiction to sugar, mainly because their knowledge of sugar (and how to avoid it) is limited, or worse, flawed. But the fact is, there is a sugar epidemic in the UK, as evident by the 3.5 million Brits now living with Type 2 diabetes, and the 500,000+ who have it but are unaware of their situation. At the end of the day, your health is at stake, so now is the time to be vigilant about sugar.

exclusively written for

By Leslie Dew

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