There are many reasons as to why we crave sugar, with it even having an evolutionary basis. The brain loves sugar – real-time MRI scans of the brain show that consumption of sugar leads to a release of dopamine in the nucleus accumbens, the brain’s reward center.
Not only does your brain will inadvertently associate sugars with a pleasurable dopamine release, but many people also consume sugars as an emotional crutch, with the physiological activities of sugar in the brain being similar to that of a substance abuser.
For those on a diet to lose weight, sugar can be detrimental to progress. Here is how sugar is contributing to your weight loss plateau, and how banishing it can help not only your weight loss efforts, but also your overall well-being:
- Sugar consumption spikes insulin levels. Sugar is a simple carbohydrate, and the body responds to it by producing insulin, signaling to your muscle, liver, and fat cells to take in the excess sugar from the blood. When this energy isn’t used up, then it tends to be stored in the form of fats.
- Destabilized blood sugar levels and cortisol. Cortisol has a catabolic and anabolic effect on the body.
- A sugar crash can be disastrous to your overall well-being. When a large amount of simple carbohydrates like sugar is consumed, your body will become lethargic due to the abnormally rapid rise in sugars in your bloodstream. Some of the more common symptoms of a sugar crash include being excessively tired, irritability, and lethargy.
Control Your Appetite by Controlling Sugar Consumption. There are many macronutrients that dieters need to be aware of like calories, protein, and carbohydrates. However, sugar consumption tends to be pushed to the wayside, with other micronutrients like calories being overly glorified.
Low glycemic index diets will be cognizant of sugar levels and how your body reacts to it, especially since there is a direct correlation between blood glucose levels hunger. Replacing highly sugary foods with foods that release sugars much more slowly can help promote a sense of satiety post-meal, as well as reduce subsequent hunger. Here is how you can reduce sugar consumption:
Increase fiber intake. Fiber makes you feel fuller for longer, as it is digested much more slowly than other types of foods. Keep in mind that the kind of fiber that you consume will also be necessary, with soluble fibers being more efficient at lowering blood sugar. Most leafy greens, whole-grain sources, and legumes are viable sources of soluble fiber.
Replace white sugar with stevia sources. A natural herb found in South America, stevia has zero calories but is 40 times sweeter than normal granulated sugar.
There are about 96 calories in two tablespoons of white sugar. If you drink one cup of coffee each day with two tablespoons of sugar, you’ll be consuming 35,040 calories over the span of a year. Not only will you be able to shave off 10 pounds over the course of a year, but your liver will also be healthier if you switch from white sugar to stevia.
Take up the habit of utilizing the sugars that you do consume. Put sugar levels to good use by exercising regularly. Glucose is a form of energy, so it makes sense to spend it via aerobic and anaerobic exercises in the case that you do decide to indulge. Regular exercising can also help improve insulin sensitivity, allowing your body to better able to use the available sugar in your bloodstream.