We’ve been told for years that it’s the fat in our food that is making us pile on the pounds, which has led to a massive ‘low fat’ food industry. But what if I told you that it may not be the fat after all, and that the secret to losing weight might be eating less of the sweet stuff?
Although there are so many benefits of cutting sugar from your diet, one of the benefits people often talk about is losing weight. Weight loss is often a side effect of a sugar detox, and for pretty much everyone who does one, it’s usually a positive side effect.
So why does sugar make you fat?
First off, we don’t actually need sugar in our diets to survive, and it’s only very recently that the stuff has become such a huge part of everyday life.
We have been on this planet as humans for a round 200,000 years, and until around a hundred years ago, we didn’t really have much sugar in our diets at all.
The only way anyone could eat sugar was by eating fruit, berries or very rarely honey. And to get to those fruits or berries or honey would often use up a lot of energy. Plus, as fruit and berries are seasonal, they weren’t around for long.
So it’s no wonder that our bodies were designed to take the sugar from that fruit, those berries or that bit of honey and store it as fat, which could be used as energy at a later date.
Fast forward to today, and we have sugar thrust into our diets from every angle, and of course it takes absolutely no effort at all to buy it and eat it. And this is why obesity figures are skyrocketing!
So why have we been told it's the fat making us fat?
For years the sugar industry has been trying to cover up the connections between sugar and heart disease and obesity. Documents uncovered in recent years show that since the 1960's they have paid scientists play down these links and put the blame on saturated fats, in the same ways that the tobacco industry tried to cover up the health issues of smoking.
How does sugar make you fat?
Almost all types of sugar are made up or roughly 50% glucose and 50% fructose - this includes white table sugar, honey, high fructose syrup, brown sugar - they all break down to the same thing once they are eaten.
The glucose is used up by any cell in the body and is used as energy, however the fructose can only be broken down by the liver. In small amounts this is fine, but in larger amounts, like when we gorge on a packet of biscuits, the liver becomes overloaded and so it turns the excess fructose into fat to be used later as energy.
And of course, if you keep on eating large amounts of sugar, then you never use up that fat, and you just keep on storing more and more.
Plus it's just so addictive!
You may wonder why you are craving sweets or sugar and it's down to the fructose again. It triggers the 'happy hormone' called dopamine when you eat it, creating an addiction cycle. Plus, unlike all other foods, fructose has no 'off' or 'full' switch, which means that you can just keep on and on eating the stuff, which is another reason you are likely to gain extra weight.
So will I lose weight on a low sugar diet?
Quitting sugar and weight loss tend to go hand in hand, but everyone’s situation is different of course, and it can depend on how much sugar you have been eating, but it is a biological fact that removing sugar from your diet means that if it's not there, then it can't get turned into fat! So you certainly won’t gain any additional weight from sugar when you do a sugar detox.
You may also have been using sugar as a source of energy throughout your day, and by eating sweet foods, the empty calories provided by the sugar will have given you temporary energy. When you cut sugar from your diet, your body starts to look for other sources of energy, and so will start to use up stored fat instead, leading to weight loss.
What is a sugar detox?
For anyone who has an addiction to sugar, then I would recommend a sugar detox or sugar cleanse, which is the process of completely removing all forms of sugar from your diet for a period of time.
It is the widely held belief that it takes 21 days to break a habit, which is why I developed the 21 Day Sugar Detox Program. By taking away all sugar for 21 days, you give your body and your metabolism time to reset, breaking the sugar addiction cycle and freeing you to make sensible food choices.
What is a low or no sugar diet?
The World Health Organisation recommend that you eat no more that 6 teaspoons (25g) of sugar a day if you are female and no more than 9 teaspoons (35g) per day if you are a man. As long as this is spread over the day and not consumed in one sitting, these are the safe levels that won’t overload your liver and won’t make you gain weight.
This is a healthy diet in terms of sugar levels, and staying below these numbers keeps you out of the danger zone for all kinds of health issues. I have written a blog here about all of the health benefits of quitting sugar.
It's worth taking a moment to have a look at your own diet and see if you think you have any sugar dependency symptoms like craving candy or chocolate on a regular basis. Do you eat something sweet after meals? Do you drink more than 1 soda a day? These are some of the signs of a sugar addiction and could mean that you are eating too much sugar. And if you are looking to lose a few pounds then quitting sugar really is a great place to start.
There is plenty of information on how to cut sugar from your life on this website and if you'd like mw to walk you through the process you can sign up for my 21 Day Sugar Detox program here.