5 Reasons Why Sugar is Stopping You from Achieving Your Weight Loss Results
By Stefan Ianev, Head Of Educational Development, Clean Health Fitness Institute
Most people know excess sugar consumption is not healthy. After all this is only common sense. Almost anything in excess is not good for you. However, if you asked them why most would not be able to tell you.
Those who are more enlightened may say it’s because sugar raises insulin, which is considered our primary fat storage hormone. However, this is only half true and there are also several other reasons.
I want to share with you five reasons why sugar may be stopping from achieving results;
- Sugar is very easy to overeat
Recent studies have shown that if you control calories sugar consumption does not lead to greater weight gain or have any adverse effect on blood glucose markers compared with wholefood low GI carbohydrate sources in people with normal insulin function (1-6).
Indeed, the devil is in the dose. Excess caloric intake is much more strongly correlated with weight gain and inflammation than the type of food.
However, consider how much easier it is to overconsume sugar, which is very energy dense, and devoid of fibre verses say sweet potato and you can see why we have a problem.
Sugar is in almost everything and it is very easy to overconsume. As a result, the calories stack up and that what really leads to weight gain.
- Sugar causes cravings
Not only is sugar itself very easy to overeat because it doesn’t fill you up, but it also makes you more prone to overeating other foods. This is because sugar enters the bloodstream very rapidly which spikes insulin levels and as results blood sugar levels crash shortly after.
This in turn makes you crave more sugar or other sweet foods. This is especially true for people with insulin resistance who don’t get the satiety signal from insulin. Studies show that those with insulin resistance tend to eat 50-80% (7,8).
So it’s not the high GI foods themselves that make you gain weight as much as the fact that they cause you to overeat. As with above focus on consuming high fiber, low density, low GI wholefoods, which will maintain stable blood sugars and make you feel more satiated.
- Sugar increases insulin resistance
Excess sugar consumption does not directly cause insulin resistance, as many believe but rather indirectly due to accumulation of excess body fat (9).
This is because fat cells release inflammatory cytokines and insulin resistance is strongly linked to inflammation, which leads to impaired insulin signalling. Therefore, the fatter someone is the more inflamed and insulin resistant they tend to be.
Once the damage to the insulin receptors has been done it becomes much more important to manage insulin levels as well as energy intake through diet. This means reducing carbohydrates and especially sugar.
For those with normal insulin function it’s much more important to control caloric intake in order to prevent gaining body fat in the first place.
- Sugar feeds the bad gut bacteria
Our small intestine is made up of a delicate balance of gut bacteria, which is very important for many functions in the body such as digestion, our immune system, and neurotransmitter production.
Excess consumption of carbohydrates especially sugar which enters gut very quickly feeds the bad gut bacteria which can upset this delicate balance.
This can cause a host of problems such as increased inflammation, suppressed or hypersensitive immune system, and deficiency in certain neurotransmitters. In fact, many autoimmune diseases and cognitive disorders have been linked to poor gut health as a result of an imbalance of gut bacteria.
Limiting sugar intake as well as taking a probiotic supplement can help maintain or restore your gut bacteria balance.
- Sugar makes you acidic
Our body maintains a slightly alkaline PH balance of around 7.3. When you are overly acidic it depletes the body of its mineral reserves and it creates an unwanted environment where infections, bad bacteria, and yeast can spread.
High consumption of sugar makes the body more acidic and can predispose you to any of the following health problems;
- Yeast fungal overgrowth
- Low energy and chronic fatigue
- Free radical damage
- Premature ageing
- Joint pain
Limiting your intake of sugar as well as consuming alkaline foods can help offset many of these adverse health effects and make it easier to reach your body composition goals.
Pittas AG, Das SK, Hajduk CL, Golden J, Saltzman E, Stark PC, Greenberg AS, Roberts SB. A low-glycemic load diet facilitates greater weight loss in overweight adults with high insulin secretion but not in overweight adults with low insulin secretion in the CALERIE Trial. Diabetes Care. 2005 Dec;28(12):2939-41.
- West, JA, De Looy AE. Weight loss in overweight subjects following low-sucrose or sucrose-containing diets. International Journal of Obesity & Related Metabolic Disorders, 2001 Aug;25(8):1122-8.
- Saris WH, Astrup A, Prentice AM, Zunft HJ, Formiguera X, Verboeket-van de Venne WP, Raben A, Poppitt SD, Seppelt B, Johnston S, Vasilaras TH, Keogh GF. Randomized controlled trial of changes in dietary carbohydrate/fat ratio and simple vs complex carbohydrates on body weight and blood lipids: the CARMEN study. International Journal of Obesity & Related Metabolic Disorders. 2000 Oct;24(10):1310-8.
- Raatz SK, Torkelson CJ, Redmon, JB, Reck KP, Kwong CA, Swanson JE, Bantle JP. Reduced glycemic index and glycemic load diets do not increase the effects of energy restriction on weight loss and insulin sensitivity in obese men and women. The Journal of Nutrition, 2005 Oct;135(10):2387-91.
- Surwit RS, Feinglos MN, McCaskill CC, Clay SL, Babyak MA, Brownlow BS, Lin PH. Metabolic and behavioral effects of a high-sucrose diet during weight loss. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition4 (1997): 908-915.
- Aller EE, Larsen TM, Claus H, Lindroos AK, Kafatos A, Pfeiffer A, Saris WHM. (2014). Weight loss maintenance in overweight subjects on ad libitum diets with high or low protein content and glycemic index: the DIOGENES trial 12-month results. International Journal of Obesity, 2014 Dec;38(12):1511-7.
- Ludwig DS, Majzoub JA, Al-Zahrani A, Dallal GE, Blanco I, Roberts SB. High glycemic index foods, overeating, and obesity. Pediatrics 1999;103(3), e26-e26.
- McClain A, et al. Adherence to a low‐fat vs. low‐carbohydrate diet differs by insulin resistance status. Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism 2013;15(1), 87-90.
- Ronti T, Lupattelli G, Mannarino E. The endocrine function of adipose tissue: an update. Clinical Endocrinology. 2006;64(4):355–365.