It is Everywhere
In our modern food supply, sugar is added to nearly everything. The estimates are about 80% of packaged foods have some form of added sugar. This means it is added to a lot of foods that you would never think of having sugar in them. And the food labels are sneaky, there are around 60 different names for added sugar. Some are used to give a sense of it being a healthy ingredient.
The reality is, sugar is sugar. After it gets digested, it doesn’t matter if it came from sugar cane, from fruit or other sources. It all turns into blood sugar and most of it contains a mix of glucose and fructose. This means, if you are eating a lot of packaged foods, sugar will be hard to avoid and may be impacting your efforts at weight loss. The easiest way to avoid added sugars is to eat whole foods that don’t need an ingredient list.
Our Brains Like it.. Too Much
Sugar activates the dopamine pathways in our brain. Dopamine is our pleasure hormone and our brain interprets things that activate dopamine to be good. It essentially thinks that things that give us pleasure will likely aid in our survival. Our brains just haven’t caught up to our modern food environment yet. They don’t know that sugar is everywhere and can be eaten within minutes of starting to think about it in most places in North America.
How does this impact your weight loss? All those cravings for sweet or highly processed foods you get- they are predominately from the impact sugar has on our brains. Take away the sugar and highly processed carbohydrates and the cravings start to fade. This affects everyone differently. For some people, the impacts of sugar on the brain are so strong that they result in a food addiction.
Want to Lose Body Fat? Don’t Eat Sugar
The amount of sugar and processed carbohydrates in the North American Diet changes our metabolism and what fuel our bodies burn. The brief explanation is that if there is sugar in the system, our bodies need to use it as the main fuel. Sugar raises our insulin levels and insulin shifts the body to a sugar burning state while at the same time, blocking breakdown of our fat stores for fuel. This means, we get more hungry (or sometimes Hangry) because the only fuel we can easily access is sugar. And that has a limited supply in our bodies so as it starts to run out, we need to eat to replenish it. This is not helpful for weight loss.
When you cut sugar and limit starches in your diet, or cut the carbs all together, you shift your body to a fat burning state. This means you access your own fat stores for fuel. Your appetite is more stable and you don’t experience cravings in the same way.
For more information on the impacts of sugar, listen to this weeks episode below.
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