So you've quit sugar — congratulations! Now that the hardest part — saying no to all those sugary delights — is over, it's time to see if you're actually quitting sugar the right way. According to Nik Toth, creator of the Lean Body Formula, there's one thing a lot of people are getting wrong.
No doubt you've heard of artificial sweeteners. Perhaps if you've recently quit sugar you've replaced the white stuff with a sweetener of the artificial kind. But the truth is, they're not much better than sugar itself (sorry to be the bearer of terrible news). Basically they are artificial chemical compounds, which our bodies cannot detect. They sneakily fly under the radar of the body's calorie counter and trick your body into thinking it's a sugar fix. This makes you look for sugar elsewhere, therefore contributing to weight gain. "They can stimulate your appetite, increase carb cravings and promote fat storage," says Nik. "Then there are endless side effects thanks to all of those nasty chemicals."
But if you're in desperate need of a sugar hit, there are safer, healthier ways to satisfy your sweet tooth . . .
- Limit foods labelled "sugar-free" to avoid these artificial sweeteners, and always read the label: "For those who love their daily protein shakes, unfortunately, a majority of the mass-produced protein powders are loaded with artificial sweeteners to make them taste better," says Nik. "This is why I only recommend natural protein powders that are sweetened with stevia or xylitol."
- Sweeten things up in a non-refined, healthy way: Use sweet spices, like cinnamon, vanilla, liquorice and nutmeg — they will be beneficial to your health as well as your figure.
- Instead of sugar, try veggie sweeteners when cooking: Pumpkin, carrot and sweet potato are always winners.
- Stevia: "Derived from a plant, this sweet herb not only tastes good, but also offers health benefits, such as balancing blood sugar levels," says Nik. "This inhibits the growth of bad bacteria and improves digestion."
- Xylitol: "A naturally-occurring sugar alcohol found in fruits and veggies. It contains 40 percent less calories than sugar, does not cause a blood sugar spike and prevents dental cavities. It gets my tick!" says Nik.