No matter if you are trying to shed some pounds or just to maintain a stable, healthy weight, it is important to know that everything comes down to metabolism. The concept of metabolism is used to describe all the bodily processes that are involved in processing the nutrients we ingest each day: simply put, your metabolic rate is your body’s natural ability to burn calories. Some people lose weight at a faster pace than others because they have a faster metabolism, but fortunately you can naturally and efficiently boost your metabolic rate by slightly adjusting your diet and your lifestyle. One of the most important measures you need to take in order to lose weight and be healthy is to cut down your daily sugar intake, and here you will find an insight into the seven smartest and most efficient ways to do so:
One of the best ways to reduce your daily sugar intake is by simply replacing the conventional sugar with one of your favorite flavors. You can do this with coffee, tea or even with foods – vanilla extract, menthol or cinnamon extract are three of the best choices, and you can easily trick your brain into thinking that your drink or food is sweet, when it is only intensely flavored. Nutmeg and ginger are two other great sources: not only will they add richness and flavor to your food, but they also come with fewer calories than sugar, and they do not pose any health risk whatsoever. Your body will slowly get used to this small dietary change, and you will find it easier to regulate your blood glucose levels which, in turn, will help you manage your sugar cravings.
Apart from replacing sugar with flavors, there are several other useful tricks that you can use to prevent those bothersome sugar cravings. Before moving on to detailing all these ways, it is important to say that the reason why we have such a hard time giving up sugar is because it makes us feel good – literally! Sugar stimulates the natural production of serotonin and dopamine in the brain, which are known as the “Happiness hormones”, and our bodies are genetically engineered to let us know whenever we are running low on sugar. Never underestimate sugar cravings, for they are much more intense than you might think.
One of the easiest ways to regulate your blood sugar levels is by eating five or six meals a day. You do not need to eat more – you just need to divide your food evenly, throughout the day. It often happens that we crave sugar when we are hungry, and we can easily prevent these cravings by simply eating something that is low in fat, sugar and calories, such as vegetables. However, if vegetables do not do the trick, then you can always replace them with fruits, such as pears or apples. Some fruits, such as peaches, are naturally rich in sugar (which can still wreak havoc on your health and waistline), this is why you must limit your intake to one or two a day. Even though all types of sugar are bad for your health, the natural sugar found in fruits is less dangerous than the refined, synthetic sugar that we add to our foods and beverages.
In addition to this, another very useful trick to keep sugar cravings at bay is chewing sugar-free gum. Chewing gum will not only keep your busy and help you take your mind off of food, but it will also make you burn calories and stimulate the natural production of saliva, which will prevent hunger.
One of the most common mistakes people tend to make whenever they try to give up sugar is that they replace the refined sugar with artificial sweetener. While it is true that artificial sugars can mimic the taste of refined sugar to a certain extent and they contain fewer calories, they can slowly take their toll on your taste for sweet. Artificial sugars are nothing but fake sugars that deliver no nutrients whatsoever, this is why you should avoid sugar-free candy, diet soda and all the like.
Another common mistake people make is that they tend to go cold turkey whenever they want to lose weight, and completely removing sugar from your diet can do you more harm than good, especially when you do it abruptly. This will only make it even more difficult for you to manage your sugar cravings, and you are more likely to give up and to binge on sweets and other sugary products, which is very counter-productive.
One of the easiest ways to lower your daily sugar intake is by simply setting a limit. For instance, you can decide to consume less than 20 grams of sugar per day (the maximum recommended dose is of 25 grams per day, according to the WHO). Once you have set the limit, all you have to do is to carefully read the labels of your foods and drinks and to calculate your sugar intake.
If you are truly committed to reducing your sugar intake, then it is not enough to switch from synthetic sugar to flavoring – you will have to stop consuming sugary, frizzy drinks as well. One sugary drink can contain more than 30 grams of sugar, which is already more than what the World Health Organization recommends per day. Also, remember that soft drinks are not the only ones that are very rich in sugars – the seemingly natural fruit juices and extracts are often packed with sugar as well, for added taste. Aside from the sugar, they may also contain other artificial flavorings, sweeteners, preservatives and other chemicals that can increase the risk for diabetes, heart disease and various other conditions associated with obesity.
A very useful useful hint for those who have decided to cut down on sugar is to become familiar with all the sugar aliases that food companies often tend to use, such as fructose, glucose, dextrose, molasse, sweetener or syrup. All of these are sweeteners derived from sugar, and they can be just as harmful for your health.