Sure, you refrain from pairing pizza with a can of Coke and say no to office doughnuts, but added sugars may be sneaking into your diet regardless. Many processed foods that you’re convinced are doing your body good—think: protein bars, peanut butter, and whole wheat bread—often boast loads of added sugar in the form of syrups, nectars, honey, and other ingredients ending in “-ose.”
While consuming sugar from natural sources, such as those found in fruit and dairy milk, is acceptable in moderation, the American Heart Association recommends limiting women’s sugar intake to 25 grams a day while men should consume less than 36 grams daily. So how can we curb our sweet tooth for good and avoid packing on unnecessary pounds? Try these 30 Easy Ways to Stop Eating So Much Sugar and then read on to find out exactly what will happen to your body once you do!
You’ll Lose Belly Fat
Added sugar is synonymous with added calories. And once you swap out processed, sugary meals with high-fiber foods, you’ll instantly notice a slimmer waistline. That’s because when your body is deprived of added sugars, it’ll start burning belly fat instead of carbohydrates—blessing you with the toned tummy you’ve been dreaming of. Start by steering clear of these 35 Sugariest Restaurant Meals on the Planet.
You’ll Cut Cravings
Foods filled with simple carbs and refined sugars such as doughnuts, cookies, and white bread can cause dopamine spikes, resulting in incessant sugar cravings. A review published in Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews states that “Sugar intake may lead to an increased number of and/or affinity for opioid receptors, which in turn leads to further ingestion of sugar and may contribute to obesity.” Weaning yourself off the sweet stuff can help you curb cravings and stop that destructive snacking habit in its tracks.
You’ll Gain Energy
If your morning diet is dependent on bagels and pancakes, and you find yourself reaching for one too many cups of joe, it’s definitely time to rethink your eating habits. Cutting out these culprits and replacing them with slow digesting protein- and healthy fat-rich snacks—such as these 30 Best Foods for All-Day Energy—can help balance your energy levels throughout the day.
It Will Slash Your Diabetes Risk
Research referenced in the Zero Sugar Diet states that for every 5 percent of total calories you eat from added sugars, your risk of diabetes hikes up by a whopping 18 percent. So if you gobble up around 1,800 calories a day, your maximum amount of daily sugar intake should be around 24 grams. Guzzle down an 8-ounce serving of Coke, and you’ll rack up two more grams than you should!
Your Heart Health Will Improve
Since consuming too much sugar can lead to an increase in LDL cholesterol (the bad kind), the American Heart Association recommends reducing added sugars in order to decrease your risk of dying from heart disease. “According to the study published in JAMA: Internal Medicine, those who got 17 to 21 percent of calories from added sugar had a 38 percent higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared to those who consumed 8 percent of their calories from added sugar,” the AHA states.
You’ll Prevent Tooth Decay
Satisfying your sweet tooth too often can actually wreak havoc on your chompers. A study in BMC Public Health found that sugar—whether it’s lurking in food or drinks—is the major cause of cavities and tooth decay in both children and adults. Cut the sweet carb out and you’ll get to keep your pearly whites.
You’ll Become More Focused
According to Harvard Medical School, a diet high in refined sugars can impair brain function as well as exacerbate symptoms of depression. So while a pint of Ben and Jerry’s certainly won’t fuel your brain and contribute razor-sharp focus, these Best Foods for Your Brain definitely will.
You’ll Banish Bloat
Usually, we associate salty foods with bloating because sodium retains water and causes your belly to bulge. But once you take control of your sugar cravings, you’ll also kiss the bloat goodbye. If you have trouble digesting sugars such as fructose (a natural sugar found in fruit as well as processed foods) and lactose (which is spotted in dairy products), your belly will respond unfavorably.
Your Skin Will Improve
Trying to fix that flawed complexion and finally stop suffering from breakouts? “Removing sugar is one of the most effective strategies to reduce aging as a non-inflamed state allows the collagen to stay strong and pliable,” Ariane Hundt, a clinical nutritionist, tells us. In addition to that, “Sugar makes the collagen structure of the skin rigid.”
You’ll Sleep Better
You may want to rethink dunking chocolate chip cookies into milk after lunch. According to the National Sleep Foundation, consuming sugar during the day usually equates to restless sleep at night. “Even if you don’t fully wake up, the sugar in your system can pull you out of a deep sleep, making you feel exhausted the next day. On top of that, consuming too much sugar during the day can lead to an energy crash.”
Your Muscles Will Strengthen
According to research in the Zero Sugar Diet, scientists have found a link between refined sugar and age-related muscle loss due to sugar inhibiting the body’s ability to synthesize protein into muscle. In fact, that’s just one of the scary side effects of mixing protein and sugar.
You’ll Slash Your Risk of Obesity…
As one of the leading preventable causes of death in America, obesity affects about a third of our population. A simple way to slash your risk? Just cut out added sugars—such as those found in soda, refined grains, and sweetened cereals—and you’ll prevent calories from accumulating on your waistline as well as a slew of obesity-related metabolic diseases.
A groundbreaking nine-year study published in the journal Nature Communications found that, in a phenomenon known as the Warburg effect, cancer cells that rapidly break down sugars can stimulate tumor growth. Reduce your risk now by noshing on these 50 Foods That Slash Your Cancer Risk.