It’s important to limit sugar intake to lose weight, but are we really aware of our sugary affair? My collection of M&M dispensers is a shadow of my sugary past. How I loved every variety of those tiny candies that melt in your mouth, not in your hands. Following M&Ms, my indulgence turned to ice cream, not just every once in a while but every night. I didn’t see a problem. I joked about my sweet tooth. I splurged on the weekends. I let loose at parties. I ate a huge piece of birthday cake every time it was around. But alas, all those sweet empty calories packed on pounds. I didn’t make the connection until my hA1C blood sugar test indicated I was pre-diabetic. So after years of sugary bliss, I finally came to terms with the notion that sugar was affecting my health and that I also needed to limit sugar intake to lose weight.
The World Health Organization recommends that added sugars comprise no more than 10% of a person’s daily calories. The American Heart Association tightens up that number by recommending that women restrict calories from added sugars to no more than 100 calories per day, far less than 10% for most women. However, the FDA reports that on average, Americans get 16% of our calories from added sugars. This means if your daily caloric intake is 1800 calories, 288 calories could be from added sugars. Just cutting this number in half could help you drop 15 pounds in one year!
I didn’t bake. I didn’t “add” sugar to anything, including breakfast cereals and oatmeal. It astounded me that I was on the verge of manifesting a sugar-related disease. I became a sleuth looking for sugar in all it’s forms. As I became conscious of sugar and tried to minimize its presence in my diet, my weight naturally started going down. Would you like to know what I learned? Let me share four little known ways to limit sugar intake to lose weight.
Limit Sugar Intake to Lose Weight Through a Health Proclamation
I declared that I would reduce my sugar intake prevent the progression of my current pre-diabetic state into full blown diabetes. As the pounds naturally began to melt, I proclaimed that I would limit sugar intake to lose weight as well. Here are a few quotes from leading authorities which may help you make a health-related proclamation to strengthen your resolve to reduce added sugars in your diet:
“Most foods and drinks that are high in added sugar do not offer many nutrients and may replace more nutritious food choices. For this reason, limiting the intake of foods and drinks with added sugar is recommended.” –Nutrition and Physical Activity Guidelines for Cancer Survivors, CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/enhanced/doi/10.3322/caac.21142/)
“Getting too much added sugar in your diet could significantly increase your risk of dying from cardiovascular disease, and contribute to obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.” –The American Heart Association (https://www.goredforwomen.org/live-healthy/first-steps-to-prevent-heart-disease-and-be-heart-healthy/sugar-heart-disease/)
One of the biggest risk factors for type 2 diabetes is being overweight, and a diet high in calories from any source contributes to weight gain. However, research has shown that drinking sugary drinks is linked to type 2 diabetes, and the American Diabetes Association recommends that people limit their intake of sugar-sweetened beverages to help prevent diabetes.” –The American Diabetes Association
Change Your Thinking About Drinking
Number two on my list of ways to limit sugar intake to lose weight is to think before you drink. If you drink anything other than water, you may be adding sugar and calories with little nutritional benefit. According to the FDA, soda, energy and sports drinks, and sugar-sweetened fruit drinks are all major sources of added sugars. Soda tops the list. Try to eliminate or minimize these drinks. I think artificial sweeteners trigger cravings, so I recommend working toward replacing diet soda consumption with water or naturally flavored water. I would also work on cutting down on naturally flavored fruit juice as the fiber is missing from the juice, and fructose without fiber metabolizes into usable sugar rapidly which spikes your blood sugar and insulin.
Many alcoholic drinks are full of sugar. Even non-alcoholic drinks and teas can have a lot of added sugar. Choose unsweetened tea and flavored water (flavored with something like lemons, limes, raspberries, or cucumbers) when ordering at a restaurant. And when it comes to coffee, stay away from the specialty coffee concoctions that are full of sweet calories. Become aware of what you’re adding to your own coffee at home, too. Do you add sugar? What about creamer?
Step Away From the Condiments and Salad Dressings
Smarter shopping for condiments and salad dressings is number three on my list of ways to limit sugar intake to lose weight. Take a look at the condiments and salad dressings in your kitchen and on the shelves at the grocery store. Most of them are loaded with sugar. Just check out your favorite BBQ sauce or ketchup. Look for hidden sugars like high fructose corn syrup. Then, shop smarter for sugar free or lower sugar options. Better yet, learn how to make your own, so you’re in control of the ingredients. A word of caution about sugar free options, I think artificial sweeteners trigger cravings and sometimes, sugar is replaced with fat.
Do You Really Need Those Breakfast Bars, Energy Bars, Protein Bars, or Fruit and Nut Bars?
At one time, I ate some type of processed bar everyday. I thought these bars were a healthy snack for mid-morning or afternoon. How could I not with all the marketing that goes on to promote them. They’re even sold in gyms and promoted in fitness magazines. Oh, and did I say they’re marketing by weight loss companies, too? I’m not suggesting that every bar is bad if eaten on occasion. I do recommend reading the label and reviewing the sugar content before eating one though. My old favorite only had 130 calories, but it also had 10 grams of sugar! That’s two and a half teaspoons or more than a third of the American Heart Association’s suggested daily limit for added sugar.
So, that’s how I tamed my sugar tooth. I started with the obvious by removing ice cream, chocolate, and candies from my home and giving myself a few days to detox from sugar. Then, I applied these four little suggestions. I made a personal health proclamation. I became picky about what I drank. I no longer just picked up any condiment or salad dressing. And, I rarely eat bars no matter how healthy they appear on the label or in an ad. I’m my own health advocate and sugar detective. And now you can be yours. What other ways do you limit sugar intake to lose weight?
Julie Butts is a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition® (IIN™), the American Fitness Professionals and Associates (AFPA), and the American Council on Exercise (ACE). She is a certified health coach and weight management specialist who combines holistic and conventional wisdom to support women who crave lasting weight loss. Her personal mission is to inspire, educate, and promote lasting weight loss through healthy balanced living. She offers a variety local and online programs to support her clients and is known as The Lifestyle Mentor for Lasting Weight Loss™. Subscribe to her newsletter to receive your free copy of Awareness! Weight Loss Success For The Average Woman and to gain access to her free monthly mentoring calls.