While there’s nothing wrong with indulging in a craving for a scoop of ice cream or margarita every so often, too much sugar has negative health effects and can be detrimental to help diet and nutrition weight loss.
The FDA recommends getting no more than 10% of your daily calories from added sugars, and defines them as sugars added during processing or packaging. This includes syrups, honey and concentrated fruit or vegetable juices with more sugar than would be expected from the same volume of 100% fruit or vegetable juice of the same type.
Naturally occurring sugars in things like fruits, vegetables and dairy are much more nutritious than added sugars because they come with important vitamins and nutrients, as well as fiber and protein that slow their digestion and make them a more steady source of energy.
Finding ways to swap added sugar for naturally occurring sugar (or to cut down on sugar altogether) is a good idea for your energy levels and your overall health.
Here are a dozen simple ways to get started:
1. Check the Ingredient List
Because some foods will contain natural sugars, you can’t always tell from the grams of sugar if the product contains natural sugar or added sugar.
If you see the words “sugar,” “dextrose,” “fructose,” “maltose,” “sucrose,” “glucose,” “cane syrup,” “cane juice,” “corn syrup,” “fruit juice concentrate,” “honey,” “molasses,” “brown sugar” or “malt syrup,” you’ll know sugar has been added.
2. Be Wary of Flavored Yogurts
We know yogurt is chock-full of calcium, protein and tummy-taming probiotics, but it can also sneak in a substantial amount of sugar.
In fact, some single-serving containers of yogurt contain more sugar than a 12-ounce can of soda.
All yogurts have some naturally-occurring sugar from lactose, but if your yogurt contains more than 12 grams of sugar, you can bet added sugars are to blame.
3. Avoid Sauces With Lots of Sugar
Sauces such as ketchup, barbecue sauce and sweet chili sauce are commonplace in most kitchens. However, most people aren’t aware of their shocking sugar content.
A single tablespoon (15-gram) serving of ketchup may contain 1 teaspoon (4 grams) (15).
Although, some varieties have no added sugar. Always read the label to be sure you are choosing the lowest-sugar option.
4. MAKE YOUR OWN COCKTAILS
Pre-mixed drinks like margaritas, daiquiris and fruity sangrias are loaded with added sugar since bartenders often rely on pre-made sour mixes or flavored syrups.
If you want to indulge in an alcoholic beverage, try making these lower-sugar versions at home.
5. If You’re Craving Candy or Something Sweet to Munch On
Reach for a piece of sugarless chewing gum. A piece of sugarless gum usually has about five calories and doesn’t promote tooth decay.
In fact, it’s been shown to improve oral health because it stimulates saliva production, reducing the risk of dental cavities.
6. Check for Sugar in Canned Foods
Fruits and vegetables contain naturally-occurring sugars that help diet and nutrition weight loss. However, they’re not an issue since they do not affect your blood sugar in the same way that added sugar does.
Avoid canned foods that are packed in syrup or have sugar in the ingredients list. Fruit is sweet enough, so go for versions that are labeled with “in own juice” or “no added sugar.”
If you buy canned fruits or vegetables that do have added sugar, you can remove some of it by rinsing them in water before you eat them.
7. Choose Low-Sugar Cereals
Cereals, regardless of their other beneficial nutrients, often contain a lot of added sugar. One particularly naughty offender: granola. Sure, it contains oats (loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber) but it also houses a load of sugar. You’re better off making oatmeal from regular oats to get all the fiber without the added sugar.
8. Eat More Protein and Fat
A high sugar intake is linked to increased appetite and weight gain.
Conversely, a diet low in added sugar but high in protein and fat has the opposite effect, reducing hunger and food intake.
Added sugar in the help diet and nutrition weight loss, particularly fructose, increases appetite.
Protein has also been shown to directly reduce food cravings. One study showed that increasing protein in the diet by 25% reduced cravings by 60% (30Trusted Source).
Fat is very high in energy. It contains 9 calories per gram, compared to 4 calories per gram in protein or carbs.
A high fat intake is also associated with reduced appetite. According to the fat content of a food, fat receptors in the mouth and gut alter the way it’s digested. This causes a reduction in appetite and subsequently, calorie intake .
To curb sugar cravings, stock up on protein and fat-rich whole foods, such as meat, fish, eggs, full-fat dairy products, avocados and nuts.