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  • Jennifer Bradford

What happens when you decrease sugar in your diet...?

This blog article was a request...here's my take and it might surprise you.


So it's Lent and you decided to decrease the amount of sugar you consume. No pop, no cookies, etc. For 40 days.


What's going to happen to you?


question mark

When we are talking about sugar, we are going to be focusing on added sugar. Added sugar are sugars and syrups that are added to foods or beverages when they are processed or prepared. So, let's leave whole fruit and dairy out of this for now.


Sugar has many names: Anhydrous dextrose, brown sugar, confectioner’s powdered sugar, corn syrup, corn syrup solids, dextrose, fructose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, maple syrup, molasses, nectars, pancake syrup, raw sugar, sucrose, sugar, white granulated sugar.


Added sugars are not needed for our bodies to function properly and they contribute to additional calories and zero nutrients from food.


Added sugars contribute to the development of heart disease, obesity, and cancer.


The American Heart Association has guidelines when it comes to added sugars:


Men: No more than 150 calories/day (9 teaspoons)

Women: No more than 100 calories/day (6 teaspoons)


However, is it the sugar that's the problem or the extra calories that come from sugar that promotes the development of chronic disease? This is a very hotly debated topic, but the science swings in favor of the extra calories instead of sugar inherently being "toxic" to the body. (Here I am not going to go into people who have diabetes or are pre-diabetic as they get more complicated, so let's assume we are talking about an overall generally healthy person)


So, by cutting out extra sugar, you'll be cutting out extra calories and you'll probably see some weight loss assuming you didn't change anything else. By losing some weight, it may improve your sleep, improve your mood and self esteem, improve heart health, improve mobility, improve immunity, increase energy, reduce joint pain, and improve sex.


If you are cutting out added sugar, you might be replacing it with some less calorically dense and more nutrient dense foods, like fruits or vegetables. If you are eating more nutrient dense foods, your body will receive more of the micronutrients it needs to function well, so you'll feel better overall.


So my take on this is that I would consume added sugar minimally. I'd minimize it as much as possible on a daily basis usually, BUT on special or rare occasions, I'd have it and not worry about it so much since I'd be so dialed in most of the time.


So giving it up f0r 40 days? The response you see in your body is going to depend upon how much you usually consume. If you are consuming 500 extra calories a day in pure added sugar (so that's like 1.25 liters of pop) and you stop that, then you would see about 1 pound of weight loss in a week and then about 6 pounds total over the 40 days. As you can see, if you are not consuming that much you will still see some weight loss, but not more than 6 pounds unless there are other contributing factors (but honestly, 1 pound of fat loss per week is a good amount :-) )


What you are not going to like me saying is this...instead of giving up sugar completely for 40 days and then just going right back your old ways after Easter, just modify it in your diet. Like I mentioned earlier, I'd try on regular average days to minimize added sugar and then on occasions like birthdays and other celebrations when there's cake, ice cream, cookies, pop etc. I'd have some and enjoy it knowing that the vast majority of the time, my sugar consumption is in check all year, not just for 40 days.

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