7 Ways to Cut Down on Sugar!

northridge weight loss

Weight gain…Heart Disease…High Blood Pressure…Diabetes…

These are just some of the consequences of consuming too much sugar.

Admittedly, sugar is hard to avoid. It’s hidden in our processed foods, buried in our baked goods, slipped secretly into our specialty coffees.

But the reality is that sugar contributes to obesity and chronic illness, so it’s important to control your intake. We help clients involved in our Encino and Northridge weight loss and nutrition programs strategize ways to limit their sugar consumption, and here are a few quick tips:

Here are seven things you can start doing immediately that will help you fall within the recommended daily sugar consumption guidelines…

1. If you eat yogurt, switch to plain yogurt

There are two categories of sugar you need to be mindful of if you’re looking to cut down on your sugar intake:

1) Naturally occurring sugar and

2) Added sugar.

Naturally occurring sugar, of course, is the best. Naturally occurring sugar is found in fruits, vegetables, milk and plain yogurt. So not only does plain yogurt have less sugar, but because the sugar it contains occurs naturally you don’t have to include it in your daily sugar intake count. If your yogurt contains any “added sugar” it should only be eaten if you can remain within your recommended daily sugar allotment.

2. Avoid artificial sweeteners and products that contain them

One of the conclusions found in a 2010 study published in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine  was that:

“because they are sweet, [artificial sweeteners] encourage sugar craving and sugar dependence.”

What???

For anyone serious about reducing their sugar intake this is not a good thing. Turns out our brains don’t know the difference and keep the sweet craving alive!

3. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables

This is a no-brainer. Fruits and vegetables contain naturally occurring sugar which you don’t have to count towards your recommended daily sugar intake total. What’s more, naturally occurring sugar is basically “self-regulating” because while it’s easy to eat a whole bag of candy, you can only eat so many apples and oranges each day until you decide that you’ve had enough.

4. Only drink water

Ok, only  drinking water might be difficult, but instead of reaching for an orange juice, soda, energy drink, or fruit drink (which are all packed with sugar), reach for a water. It’s the healthiest liquid on earth. In addition to containing no sugar, it’s great for weight loss, will give your skin a healthy glow and, among other things, it will quickly restore your energy level should you become de-hydrated.

Regarding flavored water…while some flavored water is high in sugar there are some brands that don’t list any sugar on their label. Chances are that means it’s chocked full of artificial ingredients, food colorings, corn syrup and so on. So, either way, going with regular old water still makes the most sense.

5. Cut down on processed food

A Time Magazine story from May 2015, talks about a study that for the purpose of their analysis separated processed foods into four categories:

Minimally processed Basic processed Moderately processed Highly processed

While we love processed foods for their convenience, they are also known to be high in sugar. The takeaway here is that the less food you eat that has a nutrition label attached to it, the better it is for you and your family’s health.

The rule of clean eating? “The fewer hands that have touched your food before yours, the better it is for you.”

6. Cut down on “white food”

The term “white food” generally refers to food that has been refined or processed. Examples of white food are flour, rice, pasta, cereal and simple sugars. In the digestive process, sugar and starches are turned into sugars. (There are three types of carbohydrates: sugar, starch, and fiber.)

What happens when you eat too many refined carbs? Obesity, heart disease, diabetes and so on. Hint: Squishy vs. Rough carbs

7. Read the nutrition labels

Check the amount of sugar per serving level on every processed food item you buy. Often the servings sizes listed are smaller than what you might consider a serving size. It’s critical that you work out the sugar level a food contains for your  typical serving size.

The physical health benefits of getting your daily sugar intake within the recommended level are indisputable. But there are other reasons to get your sugar consumption under control. You’ll have a sense of accomplishment and be a good role model for other people in your life. Plus studies have shown overconsumption of sugar may lead to an increased risk of depression and anxiety.

It all adds up to this…

To live a healthy, long and enjoyable life you need to stay within the daily recommended level of sugar consumption.

  • 100 calories/day if you’re a woman (about six teaspoons, or 25 g);
  • 150 calories/day if you’re a man (about nine teaspoons, or 38 g)

So, be aware and informed! Sugar is everywhere and it’s hidden in the foods you least suspect. It’s almost impossible to live a “processed-sugar-free” life, but the more you limit it, the better you’ll look and feel!

Thank you to Balanced Habits for providing this great information!

This is a logo for the 28 Day Weight Loss Challenge


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Jonathan Aluzas is co-owner of Arena Fitness, a fitness center that offers group training in Encino as well as personal training in Northridge.

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