As you may remember, my last blog post was all about taking the plunge and kicking the sugar habit; as promised, here is part two on the matter. Last time, I spoke about all the many reasons to quit sugar and how to go about getting past the addiction, but in this article, I would like to discuss little tricks that will help you keep up with a sugar-free diet in the long run. I have also included my own recipe for an all natural, sugar-free, protein muffin that I make in lieu of post workout protein shakes or bars that claim to be “sugar-free”.
1st Step: Don’t replace real sugar with artificial sugar
Artificial sweeteners were created by manufacturers to provide us with the sweetness that we carve without all the calories that come with them. Unfortunately, a 2013 study in the Diabetes Care journal found that artificial sweeteners can actually alter the way your body metabolizes sugar. Sweeteners can actually affect the glycemic and insulin responses in our bodies (insulin is also the hormone involved in nutrient breakdown and fat storage in the body). Studies show that replacing regular sugar with artificial sweeteners is almost like switching from cigarettes to cigars. You still get the sweetness you’ve been craving, so you never get your taste-buds and body used to living without the sweet taste and insulin spikes. This means that you will either go back to the real stuff, or will just keep substituting with sweeteners (which are just as bad for you). After three months on a true, no-sugar, no-sweetener plan, your taste-buds and cravings do actually change and you will start craving more nutrient dense foods when you are off sugar and sweeteners. That means that it is actually possible to crave salmon over Skittles, as crazy as that may seem.
2nd Step- Create a sugar-free meal plan
Following a low-sugar meal plan that is hearty and allows you to eat foods you like will help you adhere to a long term, no-sugar lifestyle. Swap breakfast cereal for an omlette and substitute your midday sweet cravings of brownies and cupcakes for almonds, berries and yogurt. Eating often through out the day will help curb those sugar cravings, this means at least three meals and two snacks. If you have trouble figuring out what to eat, just check out my online packages for nutritional meal planning, catered to suit your personal tastes and weight loss needs.
3rd Step- Keep healthy snacks close by
My clients tell me that getting rid of their candy and chocolate stash has helped them better adhere to their meal plans. This makes sense to me as another study has shown that rats that were given sucrose wanted more of it and self-fed with it if it was available in their cage. While the comparison may seem a little extreme, there is little difference with the person that keeps chocolate, cookies and candies in their desk drawer. If it’s there, chances are high that you’ll eat it, but making the effort to instead keep yummy snacks like organic peanut butter, raisins and veggie sticks close by can give you a much higher boost in both nutrients and energy.
4th Step- Say “no” to fat-free products and add healthy fats to your diet
Here are some dietary Fat facts: Fat tastes really good and helps in hormone production. Fat is not the devil, and eating dietary Fats will not make you fat. Here are some food industry facts: When Fat is taken out, it is replaced with sugar. This is because manufacturers are selling you on the fact that the product is fat-free — not sugar-free!
Fat-free salad dressings are terrible for this as honey or high fructose corn syrup are often the second or third ingredients. Fat-free muffins, cookies or cakes and reduced-fat peanut butter are also big offenders so keep your salad dressings and peanut butter to organic and full-fat. The fats in them will actually help you feel full and more satisfied, keeping you away from wanting to snack on sugary sweets. Sugar can also hide in foods where you least expect it. Although they don’t seem sweet, ketchup, barbecue sauce, and pasta sauce can have loads of sugar. So can reduced-fat salad dressings, bread, baked beans, and some flavored coffees. Get in the habit of reading labels. Filter out high-sugar foods before they hit your shopping cart.
5th Step- Improve your sleep habits.
A 2013 study has shown that we make very different decisions depending on our circadian sleep cycles. We are less equipped to resist a high-calorie treat (late night ventures into the cookie jar anyone?) if we are sleepy throughout the day. While diet and exercise have a lot to do with staying away from sweets, neither of them will be as effective if you’re not getting enough shut eye.
Often, a lot of protein bars will be labeled sugar-free, but in reality they contain a lot of zero-calorie artificial sweeteners. Don’t be duped by this, next time you are looking for a sugar free, high protein bar, try making your own by only using fruit as your sweetner. To get you started, here is my go-to recipe for an all natural, sugar-free protein muffin that has just a hint of sweetness and packs a protein punch. I eat these in the car, on my way home from the gym as they have lots of protein, a good amount of carbs and are naturally low-fat. I have another high fat recipe that I keep for non-workout days, that I’ll have to share with you at another time.
All Natural, Sugar-Free Protein Muffins
|4 Tbs Organic Coconut Flour|
|2.5 Cups Egg Whites|
|1/8 Cup Almond Milk|
|1/2 Medium Banana|
|1 Tbsp Craisins (use natural, non-sweetened, dried cranberries)|
|1/8 Tsp Baking Powder|
|1/4 Tsp Vanilla Extract|
|Preheat oven to 400F. Blend all ingredients, pour into lightly greased muffin pan and bake at 400F for 10 minutes. Then on broil to brown for 5 mins. Take out of oven and let stand for 5 minutes before taking out of pan. Feel free to substitute the banana for pumpkin puree or apple sauce for some natural sugar. Garnish with more craisins and some cinnamon.|
Macronutrient breakdown for 6 muffins split into 2 servings (3 muffins per serving):
Yes, this means I have 3 muffins at a time, so that I can have 25g of Protein, 5g of Fat, and 28g of Carbs right after I workout. Talk about being both filling and yummy!
To Eating Positively Well and Sugar Free,