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Sugar and Weight Loss: How Sugar Affects Your Weight Loss Goals

Perhaps the biggest topic in health and wellness these days is sugar and how to cut back on consuming it. For ages, the average adult would add a spoonful of sugar here and there to food— it never seemed like a big deal. But over time, food manufacturers started adding sugar to just about everything in the grocery store, even foods that you don’t think of as sweet, like crackers and spaghetti sauce. Today it’s clear that sugar is linked to various illnesses and conditions, and it is likely a major culprit connected to the rise in obesity and weight gain in this country. The information below will give some background on the sugar debate and suggest ways in which you can cut it out for good.

Is Sugar Really That Bad?

There’s a lot that can be said about how sugar affects the body, but it’s worth taking a closer look at how sugar can increase the risk of certain diseases. Here are some of the important ways sugar can affect your health and ability to manage body weight.

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

It may come as a surprise, but the most common form of liver disease is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, affecting up to 100 million people in the U.S. As the name suggests, it’s a group of diseases that share the characteristic of  having too much fat stored in your liver, and for many adults it causes no symptoms. However, the most severe form of this disease is called steatohepatitis, which is a form of inflammation of the liver that can lead to cirrhosis and liver failure. Studies have shown that sugar, in particular, fructose,  plays a major role in the progression of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease,  and it seems that eliminating sugar from the diet may be one of the best ways to treat this condition.

Poor Nutritional Value

One reason that sugar is bad: foods that are high in sugar are generally not as nutritious as foods that are lower in sugar. The only caveat to this is with fruit, as some are high in fructose, but they’re also loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. With that said, most foods that contain added sugar (such as ice cream, juices, pastries, and candies) typically have little nutritive value, which means you gain very little from them to benefit your health.

Tooth Decay

You were probably told by your parents at a young age that candy rots your teeth. You probably didn’t listen to them back then, and now their words may come back to haunt you. Any sugar you consume, whether it is added sugar, natural sugar, or processed, breaks down tooth enamel and can cause cavities. The mouth typically has good bacteria living in it, but in the presence of sugar from your diet, harmful bacteria can grow and multiply to lead to tooth decay.

Hindrance to Weight Loss

One common reason many adults have trouble losing weight is hidden sugar. Sometimes, it can be a challenge to know how much sugar you consume each day, since sugar is added to so many foods that don’t seem sweet (like bread, crackers, ketchup, and salad dressings) or that you may think of as healthy (like fruit yogurt and smoothies). However, regardless of where the sugar comes from, it can still have a major impact on your weight loss program. Consider watching what sugar you consume, such as in desserts, and avoid adding any to your coffee or tea.

How Much Sugar a day Does the Average Person Consume?

According to the USDA, the current estimate of the average sugar intake for adults is about 82 grams every single day, which translates to close to 66 pounds of sugar consumed each year.  To put that into perspective, it is important to understand the current guidelines recommend for sugar intake. The American Heart Association, for example, recommends that women should consume no more than six teaspoons of sugar daily. This is the same as 25 grams of sugar and about 100 calories. Men should consume no more than nine teaspoons of sugar each day. This equates to roughly 36 grams of sugar or about 150 calories per day. One 12-ounce can of regular soda contains more than the amount of sugar recommended for an entire day.

Now that you have an idea of how much sugar health authorities recommend each day compare that to what the standard diet contains. The figure is an average so that some adults will consume way less than this, but that also means there are many people who eat far more than the average. If the average American consumes 82 grams of sugar a day, that’s the same as 21 teaspoons or about 330 calories daily that come entirely from sugar. That means that Americans are eating more than double the amount of sugar than they should— and remember, this is just an average.

Does Sugar Make You Fat?

Obesity has been a hot topic in recent years, and with good reason. Roughly 38 percent of adults over the age of 19 in the U.S. are obese. What’s more staggering is that more than 70 percent of adults over the age of 19 are overweight or obese, suggesting that most people in this country have weight problems. Just think about these statistics a bit: seven out of every ten adults are overweight or obese. From a public health standpoint, effective weight loss programs are important, and it seems that sugar may play a role. Let’s take a look at how sugar is associated with weight gain.

Sugar Contains Energy.

One of the first things with any body weight management program is to consider how much you eat and to cut out whatever is unnecessary. Sugar is a major culprit in weight gain since it contains calories, but not much else in the way of vitamins, minerals, or anything else that’s good for you. You can find a detailed description of the number of calories in our calories in sugar guide, but overall, if you eat more than what you need, you will store the extra energy as fat. Some weight loss programs suggest that eating fat is the path to gaining fat, but in reality, it does not matter what nutrient you over consume; the more you eat, the more you gain.

Sugar Causes Fat Gain.

Studies have shown that excessive sugar consumption can lead to the development of certain illnesses and diseases indirectly from weight gain. These same studies have shown that high-sugar diets increased weight gain when compared to a low-sugar diet. While the mechanism is still in debate, it seems that consuming too much in a chronic sense can lead to excessive weight gain and fat storage throughout the body.

Sugar May Lead to Obesity.

Considering the difference between how much sugar we should be eating and how much we’re eating, that excess sugar consumption might be one of the key factors in the rise in obesity levels in this country. If the recommended amount of sugar is at most 150 calories each day and the average adult is consuming more than double this value, perhaps the increase in overweight or obese adults is caused by this excess. If a pound of fat equates to roughly 3,500 calories, and men consume 180 calories (at least) in excess and women consume 230 calories (at least) in excess, this could add up over the years. If you do the math on the extra amount men eat, 180 calories of sugar in excess from what is recommended each day, for a total of 365 days over an entire year, and this amounts to about 19 pounds of fat per year. Do the same math for women, and this equates to 24 pounds of fat added each year. Doing the math, it seems clear how sugar can contribute to obesity across the nation.

Cutting Sugar to Lose Weight

One of the first rules in any weight loss program is to burn more calories than what you eat. This method suggests that for every 3,500 calorie deficit, you lose roughly one pound of fat. His is not an exact science, but it is a good way to estimate weight loss. In contrast, if you eat more than what your body needs, then you will gain weight. Figuring out the balance between the energy in and the energy out can be a challenge, but cutting sugar may be one of the best ways to reduce your excessive caloric intake.

Cutting Sugar for Fat Loss

Imagine if you were to cut all sources of sugar from your diet when you go on a weight loss program. The results could be impressive when you consider the amount of sugar you consume daily. If you use the figure of 82 grams of sugar consumed by the average adult each day, it should be no surprise that you could lose some serious weight from sugar alone. Consider this: if you eat a standard 2,000 calorie diet (men or women) each day and you immediately cut all sources of sugar from your usual food and drink, you would reduce your caloric load by 330 calories each day, assuming you eat the average of 82 grams of sugar each day. Reducing your caloric load by 330 calories in sugar each day would translate to about 34 pounds of fat loss each year, or close to three pounds per month.

If you are like many adults out there, and you feel your diet is impeccable and that sugar is not an issue, consider this: one medium apple contains about 19 grams of sugar, a banana has 12 grams, one orange has 17 grams, and 1 cup of grapes has 15 grams You can see that sugar is everywhere, even if you have a healthy diet. It is easy to hit the average 82 grams of sugar each day from fruits alone, but considering a plethora of other foods has sugar in them, it would be easy to consume this much without even touching a candy bar.

Challenges of Cutting Sugar to Lose Weight

One of the biggest issues in any weight loss plan is avoiding things that your brain wants. This is where many adults have issues when it comes to cutting sugar from the diet. The brain has a strong desire to obtain sugar as a way to boost dopamine (known as the happiness hormone), which can be a major sign of sugar addiction. Sugar also provides a quick burst of energy that also floods the brain with compounds that make you feel euphoric. This craving for euphoria is hard to defeat, and it is one of the biggest challenges people have when they’re trying to cut out sugar for good.

What are Some Additional Names for Sugar?

To cut sugar from your diet, you should first have an understanding of the various names that sugar can be called. Remember the names listed below to help cut sugar from your eating for good. The information ahead is a condensed version of what you should know about particular names of sugars, but a complete list can be found in our guide on other names for sugar.

What About Natural vs Added Sugars?

There is a lot of talk about consuming natural versus added sugars in the diet and how each source affects health. Though some people think that eating natural sugars are a way to promote adding nutrient-dense foods to the diet, too much of any kind of sugar is still problematic. In-depth information can be found in our guide natural vs added sugar, but here is a condensed version:

Natural Sugars

Generally speaking, natural sugars are those that are found in nature, like fruits, vegetables, and dairy.

Added Sugars

In contrast to natural sugars, added sugars are those that a food manufacturer, restaurant, or you have put in foods. That spoonful or two of sugar in your coffee is added sugar, for example. So is sugar used as an ingredient in cereals, bread, pastries, yogurts, and juices? Added sugars are e refined or processed, and they are not as nutrient dense as foods with natural sugars.

7 Effective Ways to Cut Sugar From Your Diet

Now that you have some information on how sugar impacts your weight management, some of the names that it goes by, and the difference between natural and added sugars, you will want to learn about some effective ways to cut sugar out for good. Consider the following tips to aid in your journey to successfully avoid sugar in your daily eating habits.

1.  Substitute sugary beverages for water.

It may taste boring when you first make this switch, but beverages are the primary source of added sugars in the adult diet. Consider drinking your coffee black without sweetener or sugars and avoid all forms of soda, including ones with artificial sweeteners.

2.  Be mindful of sugar substitutes.

Avoiding sugar is something that adults on diets aim to do,  and many switches to artificial sweeteners as an alternative. While they may be calorie-free, artificial sweeteners and sugar substitutes can be up to 600 times sweeter than regular sugar, which means your brain thinks you are consuming enormous amounts of sugar at one time. This strategy often leads to you having intense sugar cravings throughout the day.

3.  Avoid fruit juices.

An orange has plenty of sugar, and a cup of orange juice has the juice of five oranges in there—so it has five times the amount of sugar.  And that’s if you make the juice yourself. Orange juice found in cartons in the grocery store—even the ones that say they’re not from concentrate— are highly processed, and many brands have added sugar.

4.  Limit fruit.

If you are serious about cutting sugar from your diet, you should pay attention to how much sugar is in the fruit you’re eating. Fruit can be healthy for you, but you need to limit your intake to 2-3 pieces at most a day—and count that as part of your sugar consumption.

5.  Avoid jams, jellies, honey, or other preserves.

American breakfasts are often sweet, and jams, jellies, and other options are a source of sugar that you may not think about.

6.  Eat plain Greek yogurt.

You may be surprised that yogurt is a common source of added sugar—sometimes up to 30 or 40 grams in a serving! Choose plain Greek yogurt, which only has the natural sugars in dairy and no added sugars.  Make sure to read the food label to double-check.

7.  Consider Sweet Defeat.

One amazing way to cut back on sugar and to fight some of the associated sugar cravings is to consider getting a little help. Sweet Defeat is a product that helps fight sugar cravings so that you can effectively eliminate it from your diet. It comes as a lozenge, and it contains only five ingredients: Gymnema, zinc, mint, sorbitol, and spirulina. The Gymnema and zinc work together to temporarily block the sweet taste receptors in the mouth, so you can’t taste sweetness. The lozenge works in a few seconds, and it is clinically proven to stop cravings. Consider taking a look at Sweet Defeat if you are serious about quitting sugar.

Weight Loss Tips

If you have ever been on a diet plan only to see it work briefly and then go south from there, then you should consider a lifestyle change to make your plan more effective. Consider the tips below as some of the most effective ways to boost your weight loss journey so that your previous frustrations turn into successes.

Adjust your exercise routine.

One way to boost your weight loss success is to adjust your exercise routine. Many adults hit the gym, perform an endless amount of cardio exercise day after day, only to see minimal results. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, your cardio intensity may not be high enough. Consider high-intensity interval training (HIIT) for better results. Second, add a resistance training program—lifting weights, for example—which will help build muscle. Muscle burns more energy than fat, so this will help with weight loss. Changing your workouts to include high-intensity interval training as well as resistance training is a great way to boost your metabolism and add lean muscle mass.

Avoid long periods of sitting.

One of the biggest issues with weight loss is that adults go all-out at the gym, only to lose all of the benefits directly afterward. Studies have shown that sitting for long periods can lead to weight gain, suggesting that changing this habit may help with n your weight loss goals. Avoid sitting for longer than 30-60 minutes at a time throughout the day for best results. Taking standing breaks can help to circulate your blood, and it increases your heart rate and metabolism just enough to where your body is not in continuous fat storage mode.

Be mindful of alcohol.

Another factor that adults should watch when attempting to lose weight is alcohol consumption. Alcohol may have some health benefits, but consuming it often can lead to increased fat production as well as inflammation. Consider cutting alcohol from your diet any time you are looking to lose weight and only drink amounts that current health guidelines suggest you consume.

Make a Habit of Walking.

One effective way to control your body weight is to take a brisk walk after each meal. Research has shown that brisk walking after a meal for about 15-45 minutes can lead to an improvement in overall glycemic control in older adults. An improvement in glycemic control could cause better usage of insulin, which could lead to a reduction of fat in your body. Consider making a brisk walk a habit after each meal, and you may see great benefits in both weight and mood.

Bottom Line

Sugar consumption is linked to some health concerns. Perhaps the most concerning one is obesity. Obesity is a highly prevalent issue in the U.S.: seven out of every ten adults are overweight or obese. And sugar plays a major role in this statistic.

The average American consumes twice as much sugar as what’s recommended. That excess sugar adds up to about 330 calories each day, which means the average adult could be gaining close to 20 pounds a year simply from eating too much sugar. Sugar consumption is likely a major element contributing to obesity levels in this country.

Consider finding healthy ways to cut sugar from your life to help you lose weight. If you find that the easy tips listed above on how to cut back on sugar isn’t enough, and if you are finding it challenging to fight sugar cravings, then consider getting help from Sweet Defeat to boost your success.