Is Sugar Bad for You?
Sugary drinks, cakes, pies, and warm apple pie are all awesome.
If quitting sugar is something that you've been thinking about, I'll let you know that you have to make the decision to quit.
Related - 5 Tips to Satisfy Your Sugar Cravings
When you make a decision to not indulge in sweet, it takes willpower. If you make it through the transition of quitting sugar, there are many benefits... and weight loss isn't one of the best benefits.
Is Sugar THAT Bad For You?
For anyone, other than your doctor, says that you shouldn't ever have sugar, it's really not that bad in moderation. The bad part about eating sugar is it's addictive. Other than tasting good, our body's response to eating sugar is unique - and causes a lot of chemicals to be released.
A book called Why Diets Fail is written by neuroscientist and research psychologist Nicole Avena. She works at Columbia University and has done a lot of research in sugar's addictive properties.
She held a lab experiment with some rats to show how overeating sugary foods cause the rat's brain and behavior to change, which resembles addiction.
Dopamine receptors are all over our brain. Dopamine is the key player to us feeling pleasure. Many hard drugs produce a huge wave of dopamine.
Eating too much sugar puts our brain into overdrive - and that's not good.
Like I Said, Moderation
Eating sugar in moderation is fine. It makes us feel good, it tastes great, and I mean come on... what's better than a warm fresh donut and chocolate milk?
The problem comes when you overindulge. This is what causes a series of unfortunate events that can eventually lead you to an unhealthy lifestyle.
There are three things that happen when you start regularly overindulging in sweets:
- Your loss of controlling how much you eat diminishes. 1 piece turns into the whole cake.
- You're going to start craving it. It won't just sound good, you may push an old lady out of the way to get some.
- Your tolerance to sugar will increase. Similar to being able to "hold your liquor," the more sugar you eat, the more you'll need to eat to get that same high from it. 2 cookies used to be your limit, now it's a whole sleeve... or container.
- You really don't have to completely stop eating sugar. I mean, if your doctor says to, listen to them.
It's the added sugars that are bad... More on that at the end of the article.
There are a few other things that happen when you overindulge in sweets - let's check those out now.
Many sugars are consumed in processed foods - and that combination is terrible on our body.
Sugar is all calories, no nutrition. One teaspoon of sugar contains 16 calories, all from carbohydrates.
For those of us that don't have control, the calories mount quickly and make you gain weight. The added weight declines your health - opening yourself up to many diseases.
Heart Disease and Diabetes
A large analysis that includes over 38,000 people found that only one serving of sugary drinks daily increased their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 18%.
Including heart disease, the consumption of refined sugars can lead to liver disease, inflammatory bowel disease, mental decline, arthritis, cancer, and many more.
A larger study involving more than 75,000 women found that those who consumed large amounts of refined carbohydrates and sugar had up to a 98% greater risk of heart disease compared to the women who had the lowest intake.
You're Robbing Yourself of Nutrition
Unless you want to constantly gain weight, we only have so many calories we can eat to maintain weight. The calorie-dense sugary foods make us miss out on everything the nutritionally-dense foods give us.
Simply cutting out your refined and added sugars will free up enough calories so you can get the nutrition you need.
5 Things You Should Know About Quitting Sugar
I'm sure you've heard that sugar isn't that great for us. Here are 5 things that you should know about quitting sugar.
It's obviously not all rainbows.
#1 - You'll Have Some Side Effects
Just like other addictive things, weaning yourself off or lower than you are accustomed to is hard. While not everyone experiences all of these, there's quite a few I've had when I cut my sugar intake to a reasonable amount.
- Muscle Aches
Many of these already happen to you if you don't get your sugar fix. Think about it.
Once you "detox" you won't have to worry about it again unless your willpower weakens.
#2 - Naturally Sweet Foods Will Actually Taste Sweet
Our taste buds become accustomed to unnatural levels of sweetness. This makes naturally sweet foods taste bland and unappealing.
The more you cut added sugars out of your diet, the sweeter and better everything will taste.
#3 - Your Energy Will Be Higher Than Ever
Fat and protein-packed diets make digesting foods take longer.
Sugar digests fast and easily - this is why you get energy spikes and crashes.
Consistently eating a fat and protein dominant diet, your blood sugar will stabilize, your energy levels will be consistent and slowly increase, and you'll start to feel more focused, clear-headed, and productive.
#4 - You'll Learn How to Be a Better Cook
Cooking is like an art. If you've never cooked, I invite you to give it a whirl.
As you start turning to natural replacements for your sweets, you're going to start tasting foods in a new way. You'll want to start trying new flavors and seeing what works together, and it's so fun.
If you learn how to grill chicken breasts, make a glaze with some olive oil, soy sauce, and honey. The sweet honey mixed with the savory soy sauce is amazing.
#5 - Your Social Life Will Suffer
If you are setting out to stop eating sugar, good for you. Your social life will present some pretty tough issues that will test your willpower. Being out and refusing to drink a soda or indulge in "a little bit" of cake can suck.
Don't take it personally when people give you grief over it.
The Type of Sugar That's Actually Bad
Added sugars and refined processed sugars are the bad sugars.
Naturally occurring sugar in bananas and honey are much better for you. The more you wean yourself off of the high fructose corn syrups and other added sugars, the sweeter naturally sweet foods taste.
The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar for women and nine teaspoons for men. This equates to 100 calories and 150 calories, respectively.
If you can be moderate with your sugar intake, you can have your cake and eat it too.