One of the secrets to my recent weight loss has been cutting way down on the amount of sugar I eat. I’m not talking about the natural sugars in fruit and dairy but refined sugars that pop up in processed foods like cookies, brownies and ice cream—yes, I love them all!
My easy way of thinking about food is trying to imagine how many steps it took before reaching my mouth. For example, fruit, veggies or nuts look the same on a bush or tree as they do on my plate (so I eat as much of those as I want), while a processed food, like a Pop-Tart, a bag of Fritos or a pack of Oreos, goes through countless steps before appearing in the vending machine. The fewer the steps, the better I feel about the food.
Your body digests sugar quickly, so your blood sugar level spikes, the hormone insulin rushes in to lower it and, as the tide of sugar recedes, you’re left with a low blood sugar level, which makes you hungry again. Today, check the labels of your favorite foods and ditch anything that has more than 10 grams of sugar per serving. (The exception is dairy, because of naturally occurring milk sugar; it burns slower in any case.) Refined carbs such as bagels and white rice also unleash the spike-and-plummet effect, so try to reach for whole grains whenever possible.
I try to eat food that keeps my blood sugar stable too and work out in a way that spikes my calorie-burn rate. Any activity that includes intervals will do this (which is why I love spinning!). It’s best to sate a sugar craving with a complex carb like fruit, which comes wrapped with fiber. Of course, you can indulge in a little sugar occasionally. I like a bite of decadent chocolate (the darker, the better) for a sweet treat. Or if you must have dessert with dinner, try one of these smarter sweets recipes.