Let’s skip the nonsense and get right to the point today.
We get so many questions on here asking about good carbs/bad carbs, carb cycling, fat intake, ketogenic stuff…it gets a little overwhelming at times. Well, I’m here to break it down and make things simple for you; forget about all the counting and cycling stuff. If you can place a consistent and effective focus on removing sugar from your diet, you will burn fat and lose weight. Simple as that. The issue is, as is often the case, doing is much harder than saying. But I’m going to show you how and hopefully convince you that sugar, and not the carbs, fat, or anything else, is responsible for your unwanted body fat AND inability to lose that fat.
Sugar: Public Enemy Number One
So let’s get the basics down first – sugar will cause you to gain weight. This isn’t exactly news to a lot of you, but researchers took a closer look in this study found on BMJ.com and put together some hard numbers. To briefly summarize, the individuals with reduced sugar intake lost an average of 1.8 pounds over the course of the study. Extend that over many months and you’re looking at a noticeable weight loss.
Another peer-reviewed study sought to determine the long-term effects of sugar on your system. Sure, we know eating sugar will make us fat, but have most of you ever considered the long-term effects? The study goes on to show that high levels of sucrose and fructose intake (the two most common forms of “sugar”) will cause insulin resistance…which puts you well on your way to acquiring diabetes type II. See, when your insulin levels are chronically elevated, it causes your body to store more fat, thus making it harder to lose weight. So even if you’ve been off the sugar for a little while now, your body may still be so out of whack that it’s unable to burn fat the way it once was.
Our bodies possess a little hormone called leptin, which is secreted by fat cells. When we eat, some of the nutrients are stored as fat. As this occurs, fat cells release leptin, which produces signals from our brain that we are full AND that our fat stores are at an adequate level. When we’ve developed a sugar-induced resistance to leptin, our brains don’t know that we are full, it doesn’t cause release from fat stores, and it slows our metabolic rate. Anyone else see a problem with this if fat loss is a goal?
I’m going to give you a quick story. I was walking through Costco yesterday, successfully navigating my way past all of the crap food samples that were being hawked. As I was rounding a corner, I was called over by a woman sampling health bars. She gave me the whole spiel; gluten-free, high-protein, organic, blah blah blah. I tasted a couple, and yeah, they were pretty good. Immediately, a warning sign appeared in my head. If it tastes good and it’s as healthy as they claim, odds are…..it’s not healthy. Naturally, I flipped the box around and went right to the nutrition label. As expected, too good to be true. A whopping 23 grams of sugar per bar.
For comparison sake, let’s take a quick look at some other foods, and show how easy it is to spin what they really are…
- Snicker’s candy bar – 3o grams of sugar
- Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup (2 cups) – 20 grams of sugar
- Can of Coca-Cola (8 oz) – 26 grams of sugar
- Cookie Crisp cereal (1 bowl) – 24 grams of sugar
As you can see, this “healthy” protein bar is right in the same league as candy, coke, and my guiltiest pleasure of all, Cookie Crisp cereal.
The take away here is don’t let catchy marketing, bright colors, or a persistent sales person prevent you from doing your due diligence. Turn the box around, every time, and check out the sugar facts.
At the end of the day, the choice is yours. How much sugar you want to cut out of your diet is completely up to you. That said, if you’re struggling to lose body fat fast enough or feel as if you can’t lose fat at all, sugar is almost always to blame. Odds are you may not even realize it. You probably avoid the soda, candy, and other crap, but if you’re not checking those nutrition labels I promise you, you’re getting far more sugar than you realize.