Are you about to embark on a sugar detox or just trying to cut down on your sugar intake? This is a pretty hot topic right now, in fact when we were researching this article we received this exact question from one of our readers, so be sure to read on for the most important tips for a sugar detox.
Why Is Sugar Bad For You?
Firstly, we will let you know exactly what is wrong with sugar. Sugar is a mixture of glucose and liquid fructose. Whilst our bodies need glucose to function, they do not need fructose which can only be metabolised by the liver. When the liver gets overwhelmed it turns the fructose into fat, specifically triglycerides, free fatty acids and LDL cholesterol, it also causes dopamine to be released and this has the effect of making us crave more sugar. All of this combined means that sugar is one of your main enemies if you are trying to lose belly fat.
Tips for a Sugar Detox
1. DON’T exchange sugary drinks for sugar free alternatives
Sugary drinks can include anything from coca cola to orange juice, and everything in between. They are highly processed and are one of the unhealthiest things you can consume, increasing your waistline and having disastrous effects on your health when consumed to excess. They are loaded with calories and because these drinks are simply liquid sugar, your brain won’t register them like solid food. This means that you could keep consuming them more and more but you would never feel full, so you would just be adding empty calories to your existing daily intake.
Even though you may think that a fruit juice is a healthy option, shop bought juices often contain high levels of added sugar. Of course, the sugar can be naturally occurring, but this is still something to keep in mind when checking the label.
We know it can be hard to cut out these drinks at first. It can also be tempting to switch your high sugar beverages for sugar free or diet alternatives. We really do not recommend this as these can often be just as harmful. The general rule of thumb is that although the manufacturer can advertise these beverages or sugar alternatives as being sugar free, they usually contain an additive which is designed to mimic the sweet, sugary taste. Examples of these include, maltitol, aspartame and sorbitol, and they are manufactured, man-made sugars that tend to have zero calories but are seriously bad for your health.
2. DO Cut down gradually: Remember natural sugar > refined sugar
We recommend making changes to your sugar intake gradually so that you do not experience any energy crashes. You should especially focus your attention in cutting down on refined sugars, particularly if this is a problem area for you. Refined sugar means sugar that has been processed and added i.e. sugar that is not naturally occurring in the food or beverage. For example, an apple is high in fructose and this is naturally occurring in the fruit. Do try to include natural sugars in your diet, you should focus on cutting out refined sugar
3. DO try these alternatives
For beverages, drinking plain water although it may seem boring at first is essential for keeping you hydrated and is a great aid to weight loss. Check out this great water bottle which really does help you drink more of the good stuff. If you get sick of plain water, try coconut water for a refreshing alternative. Natural sugars from fruit and honey, can be used to sweeten foods. You can try making your own smoothies for a sweet treat, we have some healthy recipes here.
Dates are a really good fruit to snack on or use in cooking, and they can be added to many recipes for a wholesome sweet taste. Because they are a fruit, they are high in fructose but as they are in their natural form, they also contain other compounds that aid in the digestion of the sugars. They are naturally high in dietary fiber, vitamins and antioxidants which all aid this process.
Coconut sugar is also a great option. It is derived from the sap of the coconut plant and has a low Glycemic Index (GI). The GI value indicates the food’s effect on a person’s blood glucose (also called blood sugar) level, so a low GI food is unlikely to cause your blood sugar levels to spike. It also contains the minerals iron, zinc, calcium and potassium. It can contain varying levels of fructose from 38-48%, but because it comes from a natural source it has additional health benefits.
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