The Link of Weight Loss and Sugar Intake, According to Science

By on January 7, 2018

By Ryan Fossi—

Everyone these days seems to have a hate for sugar. It has been named as the culprit in the global obesity epidemic, and is considered the first item you should cut from your diet if you want to lose weight. But have you ever wondered why we all crave sugar, and why these cravings are so hard to overcome? 

Why Do We Crave Sugar?

As a species, our sweet tooth developed 15 million years ago when our early ancestors went through a period of starvation. During that time, those who could store more fat were more likely to survive. Since sugar provides our bodies with energy and helps us store fat, sugar cravings have become a survival mechanism

However, there is more to it than just survival. Sugar stimulates the brain to produce dopamine – the feel-good chemical. This makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. The euphoric response caused by dopamine also caused our ancestors to eat more sugar, giving them a better chance at survival. 

This all happened at a period of time when sugar was rare. And weight gain was not a problem when food was scarce. Now we are not in a period of starvation and sugar is readily available. 

Consuming too much sugar has repercussions beyond putting on extra pounds. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and heart disease are all linked to excess sugar consumption. 

How to Reduce Sugar Intake for Weight Loss

Although it is not necessary to eliminate sugar completely to drop pounds, it is essential to reduce its consumption. According to the American Heart Association, men should limit their sugar consumption to 150 calories (9 teaspoons) or less a day, and women should limit their sugar consumption to 100 calories (6 teaspoons) or less a day. 

It may not be easy, but there are a few steps you can take to reduce your sugar intake and increase your chances of losing weight and becoming healthier.

  1. Read Food Labels

Reading food labels is essential for anyone attempting to lose weight, but especially for those looking to control their sugar consumption. Look for foods that have no more than 10 grams of sugar for each 100 grams of food. Be aware of names for added sugar such as corn syrup or sweetener, molasses, malt, maltose, sucrose, dextrose, and basically anything that ends in -ose.

  1. Gradually Reduce Sugar Consumption

If you can quit sugar cold turkey, that’s great. Most people find it difficult to just quit, so for them weaning off sugar gradually is a better option. Reduce the sugar in your coffee or tea a teaspoonful at a time, so that your taste buds can get used to less sugar. Try out a few sugar alternatives such as a weight loss powder or vegetable juice with no-added sugars. Also cut the amount of sugar in your recipes by a quarter to a half, depending on the recipe. Most recipes call for too much sugar, so play around with it to see what works best.

  1. Reduce or Eliminate Soda

Sugary beverages, even those with artificial sweeteners, keep your sweet tooth alive. Try sparkling water with lemon or lime. Lowering your consumption of sugary beverages can help to lower your risk of obesity.

  1. Bring Your Own Snacks

Having a healthy snack ready will help you resist the snack machine during the day or the drive-thru on the way home from work. Whole-wheat crackers and string cheese or a piece of fruit such as a banana or apple will help you resist sugary snacks.

Reducing sugar is one of the best ways to ensure you lose weight, but also one of the hardest. Moderation is always the key to sensible, healthy eating. A little sugar on oatmeal, some jam on whole-grain bread, or honey in your tea isn’t going to put you over the top. Stock up on fresh fruit and avoid sugary junk food if you want to make losing weight easier.

Ryan Fossi is a health freelance writer and wants to inform people how to make healthier choices in their lives. When not jotting down words on a paper, you can find him hanging out with his dog near the beach or playing golf.

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The Link of Weight Loss and Sugar Intake, According to Science