28 September 2017

Sugar: The Hidden Obstacle | How to Conquer A Sweet Tooth

Sugar - the hidden obstacle - how to curb a sweet tooth sugar addiction
We've heard it all - fat is bad for you, carbs are bad for you, next thing will be protein is bad for you! Well the truth is anything can be bad for you, when eaten in excess. Instead, I think we should be worrying about a different source of energy, a more silent offender - sugar.
Personally, I think sugar can be one of the most detrimental things in a diet, when over consumed. The trouble is in this day & age, sugar is added to almost everything that has been processed, yet it isn't publicised enough to make us aware of just how much we're consuming. Take fat as an example - we all know what is high in fat & what to avoid, but did you realise, your low fat yogurt is very likely extremely high in added sugars?! Take a look. And sugar is far worse for you, compared to any other macro.

Sugar - the hidden obstacle - how to curb a sweet tooth - why it's bad for you
Sugar is known as an 'empty calorie', as it has no essential nutrients. Yes it gives us energy, but an influx of sugar - often from added sugars - can be detrimental to not only our fitness goals, but to our heath. Here are a few of the effects, caused by over eating sugar:
  • Health Issues - Having too much sugar in your diet can cause a lot of serious health problems, such as obesity, heart disease & cancer!
  • Fatty Acids - Excess sugars causes an increase in fatty-acid production & fat storage. The fat is not only stored on our bodies, but our organs too.
  • Blood Sugar Levels - Excess added sugars affect the natural balance of our blood sugar levels. In time, this can cause an insulin resistance, which later can result in diabetes.
  • Weight Gain & Bloating - Sugar has very strong fat promoting effects. Calories from sugar are not nutritiously fulfilling, therefore the sugars not used for energy is stored as fat. Plus, soon after eating a sugary snack, we will begin to fill hungry & crave more food, adding to our calorie intake, which will likely be another sugary snack. Whereas, snacking on a more nourishing food, such as nuts, would keep us a fuller for longer. In addition to weight gain, excess sugar can make us feel quite bloated.
  • Very Addictive - Processed foods (containing added sugar) & junk food, can be very addictive. Unlike natural foods, these processed foods cause a much larger amount of dopamine to be released in the brain, causing us to crave more.
  • Energy Crash - Sugars naturally cause a spike in our energy levels for a short amount of time, but once the energy is used, we soon come crashing down with a thud, causing us to feel tired & unmotivated.

Sugar - the hidden obstacle - how to curb a sweet tooth - good complex natural carbs energy sauce
Naturally occurring sugars, when eaten in proportion, can prove extremely useful. This is where carbohydrates come in. Carbohydrates are sugars, which come in 2 main forms:
  • Complex Carbs - A starchy carb, formed of long saccharide chains. These chains take much longer to break down, turning into glucose & providing a slow release form of energy. Examples of these are wholegrains, starchy veg & brown rice. Complex carbs are perfect for keeping your energy levels maintained throughout the day.
  • Simple Carbs - These are much easier to break down & turn into glucose. This means the energy they provide comes in quick, short bursts. Simple carbs include fruit, veg & milk. These can be fantastic pre or post workout, to provide the needed boost of energy.
Now this is why I think sugar can be the most dangerous compared to other macros - added sugar is hidden in so many foods. Even in foods you don't expect to find it in! For example - tomato soup, 'plain' flavoured cereals, low fat products, cooking sources, flavoured drinks & coffees, baked beans... My advice - always check the labels, try to eat mostly natural foods & always pick the healthier option.

Sugar - the hidden obstical - how to curb a sweet tooth - what to avoid eat clean & natural, no added sugar
As previously mentioned, sugar can be extremely addictive. So how do we manage our sugar cravings, whilst still being able to enjoy it within reason? Here's a few tips to kick your sugar habit:
  • Stay Full - Plan your meals in advance, eating little & often & eating substantial meals. Food which is high in protein & complex carbs will keep your hunger at bay.  By keeping you full, this will reduce cravings for sugary foods. Why do we crave sugary foods when hungry? It's simple, our body is craving a quick, easy source of energy!
  • Limit Sugary Drinks - I limit mine to 2 a day. You honestly don't miss them. Instead I drink black coffee, green tea & lemon water. This will massively decrease your sugar intake & without realising, your dependency on sugary items.
  • Natural Substitutes - Always opt for a natural, unprocessed substitute where possible - such as fruit, coconut milk, honey - as these won't have any added sugars & will be far healthier for you.
  • Small Treats - Don't go cold turkey, withdrawing altogether from sugar can make you feel unwell, dizzy & bring on headaches. After all, it is an addictive substance! Instead, allow yourself a small treat each day. Everything is ok, as long as it is in moderation!
  • Don't Buy Excess - I rarely venture off my shopping list, therefore meaning I only have the food I have planned to eat sitting in my cupboards. So there is no temptation from a sweat snack!
  • Dark Chocolate - This is a very rich form of sugar, making it hard to eat too much. Plus 1 square a day is recommended for it's health benefits. I like to have my 1 square after lunch, before my black coffee, as it helps curb any further cravings after food.
  • Eat Clean - I know this phase has been rather overused - but that's because it's a rule that works! If you can eat as many natural, unprocessed foods as possible, you are able to control what goes into your body far easier. There's no added preservatives, flavourings, salt or sugar! Only the goodness, naturally occurring in the food itself.

Sugar - the hidden obstical - how to curb a sweet tooth - eat clean complex natural carbs for energy
Like with everything, there is a good & bad side to sugar. I hope this will help you eat a more balanced & healthy diet overall. Any questions, do get in contact, I'm always happy to help!


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