Do You Need to Quit Sugar to Lose Weight?
When it comes to weight gain, everyone likes to play the blame game, and sugar is the usual culprit. Well, here’s something that will make you happy — you do not have to cut out sugar for weight loss. Yes, you’ve read this right! You can include your favorite candy and desserts in moderation throughout your weight loss journey.
So, why do so many people lose weight after eliminating sugar from their diets? The answer for this is simple: Sugar = calories
1g of sugar is equivalent to 4 calories. Sugar offers very little satisfaction in terms of feeling full, but contributes significantly to your overall caloric intake, which is why it is often called empty calories. Weight loss occurs simply by eating fewer calories than you burn. When focusing primarily on whole and nutrient-dense foods, it is easier to achieve this calorie deficit without feeling hungry due to the high-satiety nature of foods rich in protein and fiber.
How to avoid excess sugar?
So, it is advantageous to limit your sugar intake if your goal is to lose weight. However, you need not completely avoid consuming sugar. Here are a few ways to stop its excess consumption:
- Switch to diet sodas and unsweetened iced teas, or water
- Eat lower-carb marinades/ sauces like mustard, no-sugar-added ketchup, or hot sauce
- Keep fresh fruits and vegetables where you can see them, and sweets hidden from view. So, when you have cravings, you pick what you see first
Most importantly, do not totally restrict the consumption of sweets. This only leads to binges later on, resulting in a higher intake of sugar (calories). Remember that it is the total calories that count. So, cutting down on sugar, but replacing it with more fat through a keto diet won’t give you better results. However, lowering sugar intake and replacing it with more fiber or non-caloric sweeteners will aid in weight loss because it reduces overall calories.
How to curb sweet cravings?
Many think that they need to limit all sugar, including natural sugar, which is found in foods like fruits and starches. You need not avoid or restrict the consumption of these sugars. What makes these sugars different from table sugar is how they are presented.
Table sugar is the extracted, processed form of natural sugar. It is the easiest form of sugar for your body to digest. Conversely, the sugar that is found in fruits or starches has a longer chain length. These are complex carbohydrates that will help keep your body fuller for longer. So, next time when you are craving sweets, have a fruit and observe if it curbs your sweet cravings.
Read the food label
It is important to look at labels when buying foods. Simply put, table sugar is cheap, making it a very common additive in processed foods. It is a huge source of empty calories. Whole-wheat bread is a case in point. Instead, consume a bread in which the first ingredient is whole wheat flour with little added sugar.
Make small dietary changes
Reducing your sugar intake and changing your diet can be extremely challenging. However, one of the best ways to have a long-lasting transformation is by making these modifications slowly.
- Do not overhaul your diet overnight
- Consider swapping soda for sparkling water or diet soda
- Add more whole grains to your diet instead of simple carbohydrates like refined flour, which is used to make most bakery products and desserts like biscuits and cakes, among others
- Eat a fruit when you have sugar cravings
Continue this process until you have reached your end goal. By making slow diet-related alterations, you are setting yourself up for success. It is essential to focus on and master the process but not overdo it.
A weight-loss journey does not mean that you can binge on your favorite sweets again once you have lost weight. It just means making room for them in a balanced diet. When in doubt, always reach out to a licensed medical professional or a registered dietitian. They can guide you in your weight loss in a healthy manner.
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3. Apolzan JW, Carmichael OT, Kirby KM, et al. The effects of the form of sugar (solid vs. beverage) on body weight and fMRI activation: A randomized controlled pilot study. Plos One 2021; 16: e0251700.