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Simple Ways to Reduce Your Sugar Intake

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Simple Ways to Reduce Your Sugar Intake

Eating too much sugar is one of the worst things you can do to your body. It can have many negative effects on your health. It has been shown to contribute to obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer and tooth decay.

While sugar is naturally found in foods like fruits and vegetables, this type has little effect on your blood sugar and is considered very healthy. Fruits and vegetables also contain lots of healthy vitamins and minerals.

The danger is from added sugars in processed foods.

The average American currently consumes around 17 teaspoons (68 grams) of added sugar per day. This is way more than the upper daily limit that some experts recommend, which is 6 teaspoons (25 grams) for women and 9 teaspoons (37 grams) for men.

Here are some easy tricks to reduce your sugar intake each day, some of which you may not have thought of before. 

Cut Back on Sugar-Filled Drinks
Some popular drinks contain a heap of added sugar.

Sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks and fruit drinks contribute an astounding 44% of the added sugar in the American diet.

So-called “healthy” drinks, such as smoothies and fruit juices, can still contain eye-watering amounts of it.

For example, 15.2 ounces (450 ml) of 100% apple juice contains more than 12 teaspoons (49 grams).

Your body does not recognize calories from drinks in the same way it does from food. Drinks don’t make you feel as full, so people who consume lots of calories from drinks do not eat less to compensate.

Studies have consistently shown that reducing your intake of sugary drinks can help with weight loss.
Here are some better, lower-sugar drink options:

Water: It’s free and has zero calories.
Sparkling water with a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime: Homemade soda.
Water with mint and cucumber: Amazingly refreshing in warm weather.
Herbal or fruit teas: Drink them hot or cold with ice.
Tea and coffee: Stick to unsweetened tea or black or flat white coffee.

Cutting back on sugary drinks can massively reduce your sugar intake and help you lose weight.


Avoid Sauces With Lots of Sugar
Sauces such as ketchup, barbecue sauce and sweet chili sauce are commonplace in most kitchens. However, most people aren’t aware of their shocking sugar content.

A single tablespoon (15-gram) serving of ketchup may contain 1 teaspoon (4 grams).

Although, some varieties have no added sugar. Always read the label to be sure you are choosing the lowest-sugar option.

Here are some other options to flavor your food:

Fresh or dried herbs and spices: Contain no sugar or calories and can have added health benefits.

Fresh chili: Give your food a sugar-free kick.

Yellow mustard: Tasty and contains virtually no sugar or calories.

Vinegar: Sugar and calorie-free, with a zing similar to that of ketchup. Some balsamic vinegars and creams may contain sugar.

Harissa paste: Can be bought or made and is a good replacement for sweet chili sauce.

Pesto: Fresh and nutty, great on sandwiches or eggs.

Mayonnaise: Although it’s sugar-free, it’s high in fat, so be cautious if you’re trying to lose weight.


Eat Full-Fat Foods
Low-fat options of your favorite foods — peanut butter, yogurt, salad dressing — are everywhere.

If you’ve been told that fat is bad, it may feel natural to reach for these alternatives, rather than the full-fat versions, when you’re trying to lose weight.

However, the unsettling truth is that they usually contain more sugar and sometimes more calories than their full-fat counterparts.

A 4-ounce (113-gram) serving of low-fat vanilla yogurt contains 4 teaspoons (16 grams) of sugar and 96 calories.

The same amount of full-fat plain yogurt contains just over a teaspoon (5 grams) of naturally occurring milk sugar and only 69 calories.

Another example is an 8-ounce (237-ml) coffee made with whole milk and no added sugar, which contains half a teaspoon (2 grams) of naturally occurring milk sugar and 18 calories.

In contrast, the same amount of a low-fat mocha drink contains 6.5 teaspoons (26 grams) of added sugar and 160 calories.

High sugar intake has also been shown to cause weight gain, which negates the reason you might have chosen a low-fat food in the first place.

When you’re trying to cut your sugar intake, it’s often better to choose the full-fat version instead.

Check for Sugar in Canned Foods
Canned foods can be a useful and cheap addition to your diet, but they can also contain a lot of added sugar.

Fruits and vegetables contain naturally occurring sugars. However, they’re not an issue since they do not affect your blood sugar in the same way that added sugar does.

Avoid canned foods that are packed in syrup or have sugar in the ingredients list. Fruit is sweet enough, so go for versions that are labeled with “in own juice” or “no added sugar.”

If you buy canned fruits or vegetables that do have added sugar, you can remove some of it by rinsing them in water before you eat them.


Be Careful With So-Called “Healthy” Processed Snack Foods
Most people know that candy and cookies contain a lot of sugar, so they may look for “healthy” snack alternatives.

Surprisingly, snacks like granola bars, protein bars and dried fruit can contain as much, if not more, sugar than their unhealthy rivals, such as chocolate bars.

Some granola bars can contain as much as 8 teaspoons (32 grams).

Dried fruit is full of fiber, nutrients and antioxidants. However, it is also full of natural sugar, so it should be eaten in moderation.

Some dried fruit also contains high quantities of added sugar. To avoid this, look for ingredients labels that say “100% fruit.”

Or try these healthy snack ideas instead:

A handful of nuts: Packed with good calories, protein and healthy fats.
Trail mix: Make sure it’s just nuts and dried fruit, without added sugar.
No-added-sugar jerky: Full of protein and low in calories.
Hard-boiled egg: This superfood is high in protein, vitamins and minerals.
Fresh fruit: Contains natural sugar to satisfy those sugar cravings.
Don’t be fooled by the “healthy” marketing messages on some snacks. Be prepared and take low-sugar snacks with you when you’re on the go.

The Bottom Line
The average American consumes more than twice the recommended maximum amount of added sugar per day.

Excess sugar in the diet can be incredibly harmful and has been linked to many chronic diseases, including cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

It is important to avoid obvious sources of sugar in your diet, such as desserts and sodas, but also to be aware of the hidden sugar in some common processed foods, including sauces, low-fat foods and so-called “healthy” snacks.

Choose a diet based on whole foods, rather than highly processed alternatives, to be fully in control of your sugar intake and not consume excess amount of it.


Now pair eating better with a great workout here at Catalyst Fitness and you're on your way to crushing your fitness goals.

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