Have you ever tried to go one month without sugar? It can be quite a challenge – but it’s really worth it! Believe it or not: 80% of all packaged foods in the supermarkets contain added sugar. It’s found in juice, yogurt, granola bars, breakfast cereal, bread, canned vegetables, and sauces. The average person in the United States consumes about 71.14 grams or 17 teaspoons of sugar per day. That’s twice as much as the amount recommended by health organizations.
The WHO (World Health Organisation) recommends reducing the intake of free sugars (e.g. sugar in coffee, desserts, instant meals, etc.) to less than 10% of the total energy intake per day. That equals no more than 50 g of sugar a day (roughly 10 teaspoons) for the average adult. But less is always better!
Sugar has Many Names
Eating a sugar-free diet is not always easy, because sugar is usually not listed as an ingredient in food that contains it. It’s hidden behind different names, which are sometimes unfamiliar to us.
- High-Fructose Corn Syrup
- Corn syrup
- Caramel syrup
Usually the ending “-ose” means it’s sugar, such as glucose or fructose.
Natural Fructose vs. Refined Fructose
Many people think they have to give up fruit to reduce their sugar intake. But not all fructose is created equal. If you eat an apple or strawberries, you are consuming fructose (fruit sugar) in its natural form. Plus, fruit contains vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which slows the digestion.
Fructose found in processed food has nothing to do with fruit. It is made from corn or sugar cane and has no healthy nutrients. If you consume a large quantity of refined fructose, it may induce leptin resistance, lead to increased calorie absorption and weight gain.(1) Furthermore, regular consumption of high-fructose corn syrup (e.g. soft drinks) increases your risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. (2)
No matter whether you are underweight, overweight, or at a healthy weight – everyone can benefit from a sugar-free diet. Here are six convincing reasons to quit sugar. Believe it or not, they have nothing to do with losing weight.
6 Benefits: Why you should quit sugar
1. Your mind stays sharp
Consuming too much sugar and fat can impair a number of brain functions. A study from the University of South Wales in Australia has confirmed this. So, put down the sweet stuff and keep your mind sharp!
2. It lowers your blood pressure
Weight gain is a very common consequence of excessive sugar consumption and brings with it the risk of high blood pressure. This can lead to a heart attack, stroke, kidney damage, and other serious diseases.
If you consciously quit sugar, get moving and watch your weight, quit smoking and also avoid stress, your high blood pressure will definitely go down.
3. You can prevent diabetes
A meta-analysis published in the Diabetes Care Journal confirms: regular consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (soft drinks, fruit juices, energy drinks and ice tea) – 2 servings or more – increases the risk of metabolic syndrome (a combination of different symptoms related to your metabolism that occur together) and of developing type 2 diabetes. This is also true for other foods containing added sugar. You develop an increased insulin resistance, which means the sugar cannot reach the cells. The result: blood pressure rises!
Beverages can be loaded with liquid calories, so try to avoid them and reach for zero calorie alternatives.
4. You have fewer cravings
Another advantage of a sugar-free diet? Your craving for sweets will decrease over time. Sugar is addictive. The more you eat, the more your body wants. Break the cycle by eliminating foods high in sugar from your diet. It will be hard at the beginning, but you will quickly notice that you crave sweets less.
5. You save money
Consuming a lot of sugar costs money. Why? Foods high in sugar attack the enamel on our teeth and cause decay. This also weakens our immune system. The result is that we get sick more. All of this leads to more frequent doctor visits that are often very expensive. Boost your immune system with superfoods like matcha and ginger.
6. You have more energy
You must have already noticed that you often just want to lie down after a high-carb or high-sugar lunch. Sugar makes us sluggish and even appears to be linked with depression. (3) The next time you are wondering why you feel so unmotivated, think about your diet. Energize your body by eating more fresh, unprocessed foods.
Quitting Sugar – How to Start
Transitioning to a sugar-free diet doesn’t have to happen overnight. Start by eliminating sugar and foods with added sugar from your diet. Eat a balanced diet including fresh, unprocessed foods. Do you like to drink juice and soft drinks? Water them down gradually until you’ve broken your addiction to the sweet flavor. Try to skip that spoonful of sugar in your coffee or tea.
It might take awhile until you’re able to totally eliminate sugary drinks and foods from your diet, but you will quickly see how you feel better and more energized every day.