If I asked you what causes weight gain when it comes to dieting, you would probably say fat, or with the latest craze surrounding carbs, you may guess that too! However, not all carbohydrates are created equal. Which is why it’s important for you to know about sugar carbohydrates.
Believe it or not, sugar is a big contributor to weight gain. To keep it simple, if your body is running on sugar, it is not burning fat for fuel. It really is that simple.
The calories and total grams of “bad carbohydrates” from foods high in sugar add up more quickly than those from yams, beans, oats, veggies, and other natural carbohydrates because:
a.) Sugar is a very concentrated source of carbohydrate – so it’s easier to eat more calories.
b.) Sugar has a very pleasant taste – it is easily overeaten out of enjoyment and often used for comfort.
c.) Sugar keeps bad company. Many foods high in sugar are also high in fats, such as pastries, cookies, ice cream, and other sweets.
d.) Sugar is often consumed as beverages – sodas, juices, punch, etc – which contains a lot of calories in a very little volume. A large soda, for example, can contain more than 300 calories alone!
I’m not saying you can never eat sugar; trust me, my world wouldn’t rotate without a bite of chocolate every now and again! But treats are just that, treats, and they should be eaten sparingly on occasion.
But an occasional indulgence shouldn’t completely derail your nutrition program, either mentally or physically. Besides I don’t advocate complete elimination of any food group, sweets included. So to see where treats can fit into your plan, you’ve got to analyze what they are made of.
Most sweets and desserts are high in calories and heavy on carbs and fat. Ice cream, chocolate bars, frozen yogurt, pudding, and other dairy-based treats have some protein in them for milk or nuts, in addition to fat and carbohydrates. Treats such as hard candy, sorbet, donuts, and muffins are pretty much straight, simple carbohydrates. Processed backed goods such as cakes, pies, and cookies contain plenty of carbs, maybe a little protein and a bunch of trans fat to ensure a longer shelf life.
Dessert isn’t the only place you’ll find a ton of sugar: Many condiments, sauces, and dips contain added sugar, as well as many breads, cereals, crackers, and dressings. So before you glop on the barbecue sauce or ketchup, read the label carefully to see how many sugar calories you’re getting per serving. Of course, sugar will not always be listed as “sugar” on the label. That would be way to easy, right! Usually it hides out under one of these aliases:
– high-fructose corn syrup
– malt syrup
– corn syrup
– maple sugar
– and glucose
So look out for the sneaky little sugars. Here are a few tips to help you deal with the sugar cravings:
- Wait it out! Sometimes cravings are emotionally driven, and you may be eating sweets in reaction to your emotions. Before you dig into the donut box, stop, recognize your craving, and ask yourself out loud if it is worth the few minutes of pleasure instead of achieving the body you want and can enjoy 24 hours a day.
- Eat more often. You might crave sugar if you haven’t eaten a balanced meal or snack because your blood sugar may be low. Your body knows the fastest way to get its blood sugar back up is to get some simple carbs in there, so it tells you to crave sugar-and you do! That’s just another reason we have you eating balanced meals throughout the day!
- Break the habit! If you always have dessert with dinner or get a treat every day from the vending machine at 4pm, recognize that pattern, and break it! Do something completely different, such as taking a walk or calling a friend instead of hitting the vending machine.
- And, last but not least, give in and have a bite! Before you get too excited, I want it to be loud and clear that I’m not giving you permission to binge! Share a dessert, have a mini size chocolate bar, or a small cookie. Be sure to go out and have it in order to keep the temptation of leftovers out of the house!
Also, be really careful with the sugar substitutes. In many “sugar-free” foods, the sugar has been replaced by either sugar alcohols or synthetic products. Sugar alcohols are not technically sugar, but they still contain calories from carbohydrates and are not calorie free. The alcohol in these sweeteners attracts water into the gut and can cause abdominal discomfort and bloating. My personal favorite when it comes to sugar replacements is Sweete. It is made from the Rubia plant and it 100% natural. You can find it at www.sweete.biz!
In summary, a diet lower in sugars and higher in complex natural carbohydrates,
fiber, and protein is almost always lower in calories, higher in energy, and higher in vitamins and minerals.
These above factors, working together, contribute to a lower rate of obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and tooth decay … and you absolutely will achieve much better fat loss results.
It’s okay to eat a little sugar as a treat, but do so in moderation … and be aware and on the look-out for “hidden” sugars that you typically eat each day. They certainly add up and could very well be one of the reasons you’re not achieving the best possible results in the shortest amount of time. I hope this was helpful!
Your fat loss coach,
Kim Lyons, BS, CPT
Best-selling author of Your Body, Your Life
Co-trainer on The Biggest Loser
Your Fast Track to Fat Loss Coach