Do you want better skin? Lasting energy? Less belly fat? Reduce your sugar intake and see how your body and mind reap the benefits. Here’s all the motivation you need to break up with the sweet stuff.
Right now, and for the next 36 days it’s Lent. So, if like millions of others, you’re trying to wean yourself off the sweet stuff, or you just want to cut back to improve your overall health and lifestyle habits, then you’re in the right place. We have some facts, motivation and tips just for you. We’re here to help you start the change.
Here’s some real quick facts before getting onto the good stuff. Eating too much sugar is linked to weight gain, tooth decay and various diseases such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. But how much is too much? Well, according to the American Heart Association (AHA), the maximum amount of added sugars you should eat a day are 25g/6 teaspoons for women, and 37.5g/9 teaspoons for men, but many Brits consume a lot more. The good news is that a little sweetness is alright – emphasis on little.
THE BENEFITS OF THE LESS-SUGAR LIFE (ARE SO GOOD!)
We all know that sugar is addictive and a hard habit to break. Research suggests that sugar tricks our brains into wanting more and more of it… so no wonder it’s so challenging! Nonetheless, it takes roughly 21 days to break a habit, if you’re consciously committed to doing so. If you can reduce your intake, you’ll reap some of these amazing health benefits –
1. GET READY TO FEEL MORE ENERGISED AND FOCUSED
Added sugars are simple carbohydrates, meaning they’re digested fast and enter straight into the blood stream, causing our blood sugar levels to shoot up. This gives us that feel-good burst of energy, followed by a crashing slump, leaving us feeling tired, irritable and craving more sugar. It’s a vicious cycle. By reducing added sugars in your diet, your blood sugars will balance, giving you more sustained energy levels throughout the day resulting to you feeling more alert and focused.
2. GET YOUNGER-LOOKING SKIN
Another wonderful benefit of eating less sugar? Better skin! More sugar means higher blood sugar levels and studies suggest that high blood sugar levels set up a molecular domino effect called Glycation. That’s basically just a fancy word for a process that can hinder the repair of your skin’s collagen, the protein that keeps it looking plump and firm. Therefore, it can lead to dull skin with premature wrinkles and reduced elasticity. Luckily, reducing your sugar intake can help lessen visible signs of aging. You know what they say – a minute on the lips is a lifetime on the hips? (or the face in this case).
3. SAY GOODBYE TO ABDOMINAL FAT
Reaching for lots of daily sugary treats can pack on the pounds, and even more so in the abdominal area. Over a long period of time (and lots of added sugars), a risky type of fat cell can accumulate in the tummy area, known as visceral fat, which can contribute to conditions such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. So, having fewer sweets and high sugar drinks will result to reduced belly fat and the risky conditions that come with it. Win win situation.
4. DROP POUNDS
Food and drinks high in sugar tend to be higher in calories (1g sugar = 4 calories), without any of the nutritional benefits that fuel your body or fill you up. This leads to feeling hungry again quickly and you’re likely to eat more throughout the day. Replacing sugary foods with healthy fats helps keep your insulin levels stable, leading to fewer calories being stored as fat, decreased hunger and a faster metabolism; all contributing to weight loss.
5. KEEP A HEALTHY HEART
Fuelling your day with cookies doesn’t do your heart any favours and can take a toll on your cardiovascular system. Cut back on added sugars now and it will pay off in the long run and help protect you from cardiovascular problems later in life.
6. KEEP THOSE PEARLY WHITES
Eating excessive amounts of sugar can create an acidic environment in your mouth, which can attack your teeth. If you like having shiny pearly whites then reducing your sugar is a great idea. Less added sugars results to healthier teeth and less trips to the dentist. Sounds good, right?
7. SLEEPING BEAUTY
You remember we talked about blood sugar levels? Well, eating too much added sugars, especially near bedtime, can mean your blood sugar levels fluctuate during your sleep; disrupting it. Less sugar means you’ll have a better sleep and you’ll wake up feeling more refreshed.
So, what steps do you need to take to reduce your sugar intake?
Naturally occurring sugars in foods like fruits and veggies come with good-for-you nutrients, whereas added sugars from processed foods have no added benefits; just calories. So, the more obvious ways of reducing sugar intake are reducing the amount of sugary processed foods in your diet such as brownies and energy drinks. However, here are a few less obvious tips that we do personally that can help you reduce your added sugars.
QUIT SPRINKLING THE SUGAR
If you have 3 cups of tea a day, that’s 3 teaspoons a day… that’s half your recommended sugar intake up before you have even lay your eyes on your afternoon snack! So, if you add sugar to your cereals, tea or coffee, cut the amount by half. Once you’ve got used to the taste, halve the amount again.
KNOW YOUR ENEMY
Check ingredient lists to see if they contain added sugars, and whether it’s a little or a lot. Watch out for sugar’s many disguises, such as sucrose, glucose, barley malt, maple syrup and so on. Personally, we use ‘fructose’ in our range of mixers, which is a naturally-occurring sugar that’s present in fruit and honey.
GO FOR GREEN
The traffic light labels on packaging can be a huge help in seeing if the amount of sugar present it OK. Look out for green labels, possibly even amber, but avoid red.
SWAP THE SWEET
Don’t jump on the sugar roller-coaster of quick highs and bad lows. For a pick-me-up throughout the day, rely on high protein foods, healthy fats and slow-burning carbs for a steady stream of energy, such as a handful of almonds or dip sliced apple in peanut butter (watch out for the peanut butter with added sugars).
SPICE IT UP
Flavour foods that you would normally sweeten with sugar, with spices like nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon, or sweet alternatives such as vanilla or citrus zest. For example, try adding cinnamon on your porridge rather than sugar. Another hack is adding fresh fruit to a G&T for extra sweetness, providing you with the flavour but not the calories (a great example below – Lixir Elderflower & Lemon with fresh strawberries and lime!).
DON’T BE A BIG SOFTIE
As yummy as they are, some soft drinks can be full of sugar, pushing you way past the recommended daily sugar intake. Drinks with over 11.25g of sugar per 100ml are classed as high sugar and would have a red traffic light label. Try and avoid high sugar drinks such as some fruit juices and energy drinks. Our entire range is low in sugar, containing between 0g–4.9g of fructose per 100ml.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Here at Lixir, we’re all about balance. While it may be impossible to avoid sugar completely (and who would actually want to?), there’s no doubt that eating less sugary treats is better for your long-term health. Why not try it for a couple weeks and see how you feel? But, remember to enjoy yourself and treat yourself; just don’t eat a big bag of haribos everyday, you know.