What Does Sugar-Free Really Mean?

People ask me all time, “If there was one thing to remove from the American diet that would make the biggest difference to our health, what would it be?” My answer is always the same, sugar.

The amount of sugar that we are consuming as a nation is beyond staggering. Think about this; the average caveman was eating around 33 tablespoons of sugar in one year, today the average American school kid is eating 35 tablespoons of sugar a day! This is alarming considering that our bodies have not changed much since our early ancestors.

But this leads to the question – what about sugar-free foods?
There are several factors that play into why sugar and sugar-free foods (I’m talking about processed foods that are sugar-free because they have artificial sweeteners, not whole foods that are naturally sugar-free) are wreaking havoc on our bodies such as acidity levels and increasing appetite and cravings; but I am going to take the most simple example and approach. When we eat sugar, our tongue sends a signal to our brains that the body needs to secrete insulin in the pancreas in order to regulate our blood sugar levels. If the body didn’t do this the sugar in our bloodstream would make our blood more like jam or jelly than liquid, thus producing clots.

When something is “diet” or “sugar free” it simply means that other chemicals have taken the place of the actual sugar. But the body’s process is still the same! If the body is preparing itself for high amounts of sugar, it is going to secrete insulin whether the soda is diet or not.

If the process of secreting insulin in the body becomes routine, then the body is going to store it. Want to take a guess how the body stores excess insulin? Body fat! In fact, 1 diet soda a day for 1 year can attribute to an extra 10lbs of weight gain. The area we most store too much insulin is around our waistline. So if you are struggling with love handles and lower abdominal fat it is a good indicator that sugar intake is too high.

Beyond just storing insulin as body fat, the chemical process above will create fatigue, deficiencies and food cravings; especially fat and sugar. Here are some simple tips:

  • Give all soda a break for a month and try to kick the habit. I have even heard that drinking it warm and slushing it around in your mouth before swallowing helps lose its appeal faster. Sounds extreme, but if it helps kick your habit it may be worth it!
  • Overload with water to stay properly hydrated and kill cravings and fatigue.
  • Start the day with a little more protein instead of simple carbohydrates to balance blood sugar to help burn sugar properly and reduce afternoon cravings.

Decreasing your processed sugar intake is one of the best and most effective actions you can take on weight loss and overall health. Enjoy these tips and share the ways you cut down on processed sweeteners and increase energy and health!