Key Fat Burning Tips for High Performance
Cut the sweetness
You may not be eating Oreos by the roll or guzzling cans of Coke, but that doesn’t mean sugar’s absent from your diet. You’re likely eating sugar throughout the day without even realizing it, says Amari Thomsen, RD, owner of Chicago-based nutrition consulting practice Eat Chic Chicago. Sugar is added to foods that don’t even taste all that sweet, like breads, condiments, and sauces. And it adds up: although the American Heart Association recommends women consume no more than six teaspoons of added sugar per day (or about 100 calories), most of us take in double that. (One note: we’re talking about added sugar, not the naturally occurring sugars found in dairy and fruit.) A high-sugar diet boosts your odds of tooth decay, heart disease, and diabetes, not to mention weight gain. Slash your sugar intake now with these 10 expert tips
Read food labels
You’ll quickly realize just how often sugar is added to foods when you look for it on ingredients lists. “Even things that you don’t think are sweet, like tomato sauce, crackers, condiments, and salad dressings can be packed with sugar,” says Diane Sanfilippo, certified nutrition consultant and author of The 21 Day Sugar Detox. Ingredients are listed in order of how much exists in the product, so if sugar’s near the top, that’s a red flag.
Learn sugar’s aliases
When you read food labels, you’ll need to look for more than just the word “sugar.” Sugar hides under several sneaky names, including high fructose corn syrup, dried cane syrup, invert sugar, molasses, sucrose (or any word ending in “-ose”), brown rice syrup, honey, and maple syrup. These can be listed separately on ingredients lists, so many foods, even seemingly healthy ones like yogurt and cereal, may contain three or four different types of sweetener. If several sugars appear on the label, it’s an indication that the food is less healthy than you may think.
Once you know where sugar hides, you can start making changes. One strategy: buy foods labeled “no added sugar” or “unsweetened.” You’ll find unsweetened versions of these common foods in most grocery stories: non-dairy milk like almond and soy, nut butters (look for those made with only nuts and salt), applesauce, oatmeal, and canned fruit (they should be packed in juice—not syrup).
Don’t go cold turkey
Going cold turkey on sugar isn’t realistic for most people. Thomsen suggests cutting back slowly. If you normally put two packets of sugar in your coffee, for instance, try one for a week, then half, and finally add only a splash of milk. For your yogurt, mix half a serving of sweetened yogurt with half a serving of plain, and eventually move on to adding natural sweetness with fresh fruit.
Think protein and fat
Unhealthy carbs loaded with sugar can cause blood sugar to rise rapidly (and dive just as quickly, leaving you hungry again). To minimize this rapid rise and fall, pair protein, healthy fats, and fiber with your meal, all of which can slow down the release of blood sugar in your body and keep you full for longer. (At breakfast, that means adding almonds to your usual oatmeal or pairing eggs with your morning toast, and for your midday snack, a slice of turkey breast or cheese along with your apple, suggests Thomsen.) Fats are a key player because they help keep you fuller for longer, thus helping to decrease your desire for sugar, adds Sanfilippo. Focus on fats like avocados, nuts, seeds, and heart-healthy oils like olive oil, walnut oil, and coconut oil.
Never go fake
When you’re reducing your sugar intake, you may be tempted to switch to artificial sugars for your sweet fix. But resist reaching for the diet soda, sugar-free candy, and packets of fake sugar in your latte. “These can mess up your taste for sweet,” says Sanfilippo. “When you eat something sweet, your body expects calories and nutrition, but artificial sugars don’t give your body those things.” That may be why fake sugars are associated with weight gain—not loss, according to a 2010 review in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine.
Add more flavor
Sanfilippo loves using vanilla bean and vanilla extract, spices, and citrus zests to add sweetness to foods without having to use sugar—and for zero calories. Order an unsweetened latte and add flavor with cocoa or vanilla powder. Skip the flavored oatmeal and add a sweet kick with cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. One bonus for sprinkling on the cinnamon: according to a meta-analysis in the Journal of Medicinal Food, the spice has been shown to naturally regulate blood sugar, which helps control your appetite.
Don’t drink it
Avoiding soda is a good idea, but that’s not the only sugar-packed drink out there. Even drinks that are considered healthy can contain more of the sweet stuff than you’re supposed to have in an entire day. Case in point: “enhanced” waters (eight teaspoons per bottle), bottled iced teas (more than nine teaspoons per bottle), energy drinks (almost seven teaspoons per can), bottled coffee drinks (eight teaspoons per bottle), and store-bought smoothies (more than a dozen teaspoons—for a small).
You can still indulge in an occasional sweet treat after you resolve to slash sugar. The idea is to avoid wasting your daily sugar quota on non-dessert foods like cereals, ketchup, and bread. To avoid overdoing it, set specific rules about when you may enjoy dessert: only after dinner on the weekends or at restaurants as a special treat, Thomsen suggests.
Stick with it!
At first, cutting down on sugar can feel like an impossible task. Eventually, though, your taste buds will adjust. Super-sweet foods like ice cream and candy will start to taste too sweet. When you could have a whole slice of cake before, now a couple bites will be enough. You’ll notice the natural sweetness in fruits and vegetables—and yep, they’ll taste better, too.
Getting into the right frame of mind to lose weight can be half the battle for some people. Get your head in good shape and allow the body to follow.
What can you do?
That way you will understand your risks and what you have to do.
Diabetes prevention starts with losing weight.
First things first, discuss weight loss and an individual program with your health care team.
Take things slowly at first, and take one step at a time.
Which diet will help me to lose weight?
The diet industry is huge, but how do you pick a sensible diet?
Many diets involve reducing or restricting certain foods which makes some diets more or less appropriate for certain types of people.
If you need help choosing which diet to pick, read the MATAIP booklet also a dietitian will be able to assist you in making a suitable choice.
There’s a long-running debate about fruit. Should people with diabetes eat it? If so, how much?
The short answer is: Yes, a bit. Fruit is full of vitamins and minerals. It provides nutrition that’s essential for anybody, diabetic or not. Don’t leave fruit out of your diet altogether.
That said, fruit tends to be quite high in sugar. Too much, and you may find it difficult to keep blood glucose levels under control.
But which are the best (and the worst) fruits for people with diabetes, in terms of sugar? Let’s take a look.
(Next to the sugar content, we’ve listed the total carb content of each fruit, per 100g. In this case, total carbs includes sugar, but also some other stuff.)
The most sugary
5. Banana: 12g per 100g. (22.8g total carbohydrate)
Bananas are pretty high in sugar content. They contain 12g of sugar per 100g of fruit. The average banana weighs roughly 120g, so people with diabetes probably shouldn’t eat more than one a day.
More positively, bananas contain a whole host of good stuff: vitamin C, potassium, protein, magnesium and dietary fibre.
4. Pomegranate: 14g per 100g. (17.1g total carbohydrate)
Pomegranates contain 14g of sugar per 100g, but don’t let that put you off too much. 100g of pomegranates also contains 7g of fibre, 3g of protein, and 30 per cent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C. Just don’t eat too much.
3. Mango: 14g per 100g. (17g total carbohydrate)
The average mango weighs around 200g, so one whole mango contains about 28g of sugar. Despite its health benefits – one mango contains all of the vitamin C you need in a day – you might consider avoiding mango if you struggle to control your blood glucose levels.
In short: moderate your mango.
2. Grapes: 16g per 100g. (18g total carbohydrate)
100g of grapes contains 16g of sugar. That’s about 10 red grapes. Grapes are absolutely chock-full of sugar.
However, if you have a bit of a weakness for grapes, you’ll be consuming a lot of goodness: red grapes contain anthocyanins, which have been linked to lower levels of “bad” cholesterol, higher levels of “good” cholesterol and a lower risk of insulin resistance.
1. Dates: 63g of sugar per 100g. (75g total carbohydrate)
100g of dates contains 63g of sugar. Bad news for your blood sugar. Despite their health benefits, people with diabetes should only consume a few dates in one go. Those who aren’t confident in their blood glucose control might want to avoid them altogether.
The least sugary
5. Cranberry: 4g per 100g. (12.2g total carbohydrate)
Cranberries, everyone’s favourite fruit of Christmas, are one of the least sugary fruits. 100g of cranberries contains just 4g of sugar. The benefits pretty massively outweigh the drawbacks. Cranberries are linked to lower risk of urinary tract infections, preventions of certain types of cancer and lower blood pressure.
4. Lemon: 2.5g per 100g. (9.3g total carbohydrate)
3. Lime: 1.7g per 100g. (10.5g total carbohydrate)
Limes aren’t renowned for their sweet, sugary taste. This is reflected in their sugar content: 1.7g per 100g. Like lemons, limes are good for weight loss, skin care, eye care and improved digestion. You can hardly go wrong.
2. Cucumber: 1.7g per 100g. (2.1g total carbohydrate)
Technically, cucumbers are fruit. The seeds run through the middle. That’s not the only surprising thing about cucumbers: they also contain only 1.7g of sugar per 100g. That’s about the weight of an individual cucumber.
1. Avocado: 0.7g per 100g. (8.5g total carbohydrate)
We love avocado. It strengthens your heart, protects your vision and provides high levels of vitamin K.
As for its sugar content? 0.7g per 100g. You’d have to eat more than 10 avocados to get the sugar hit of a single banana.
A new study from Dr. David Unwin finds that a low-carbohydrate diet could improve the liver function of patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
NAFLD often occurs in people who are overweight or obese, including people with type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, NAFLD can increase the risk of a heart attack and stroke, which makes the condition dangerous for people with type 2 diabetes who already have a heightened risk of cardiovascular disease.
Dr. Unwin has previously highlighted the benefits of a low-carb diet for people with type 2 diabetes, including improved blood glucose control, decreased waist circumference and reduced blood pressure.
In his new study, published in the specialist journal Diabesity in Practise, Dr. Unwin selected 69 patients in his practice who had very high levels of gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT). When GGT levels are high, it suggests the liver is under pressure and could be indicative of drinking too much alcohol or NAFLD.
Dr. Unwin put his patients on a low-carb diet for 13 months. They mainly ate green vegetables, fish, nuts, eggs and meat; reducing their intake of starchy carbs and increasing their healthy fats from olive oil or butter.
“The results were striking,” said Dr Unwin. “The first thing that happened was their GGT readings dropped by an average 47 per cent. That makes sense because the liver is the first destination of new glucose supplies.”
Currently, the NHS advocates a low-fat diet to treat NAFLD, but The British Liver Trust (which supported the trial) hopes a low-carb diet could cut premature deaths from NAFLD and believe these findings provide a “very useful insight on how liver function can improve.”
Holiday food and busy schedules make it too easy to gain weight. Follow our suggestions to stick to your meal plan this season without feeling deprived.
- Focus on the activities instead of the food. A party is a great place to meet people and catch up on news. Distance yourself from the buffet table to minimize the amount that you nibble.
- Keep your eating times consistent to help with blood sugar control. If you skip a meal or go to a party hungry, your blood sugar can drop and you might overeat later. If the party doesn’t fit your meal or snack schedule, eat something small at your usual time and supplement lightly at the party. If you’re at risk for hypoglycemia, make sure to have a treatment on hand.
- If you’re attending a party or family dinner, ask questions before you go if you feel comfortable with the host, or offer to bring a dish that will fit into your meal plan. When you arrive, scope out the food table before filling your plate to decide what you want to taste and enjoy. If you’re the cook, nibble on fresh veggies or other healthy snacks while you’re planning and prepping for the party.
- Dish up your food on a salad or snack plate if one is available. Select one to three of your favorite items in small portions and savor each bite. If you want more, wait at least 20 minutes, then decide whether you’re actually hungry or just craving more food. You can eat almost anything in small quantities.
- If you’re the host, offer a variety of low-fat, low-calorie foods, such as fruit and vegetable trays and calorie-free beverages, along with traditional options. Cook reasonable amounts of food to minimize tempting leftovers. If you’re expecting 12 guests, don’t prepare for 50 people — too many leftovers invites excess eating. To get the leftovers out of your house, purchase small disposable containers and send some food home with each guest.
- Reduce the fat in your traditional family favorites without sacrificing flavor by substituting with a lower-fat product, such as fat-free milk, light cream cheese, or light sour cream, in recipes. To reduce sugar, use less sugar or try a sugar substitute. “You might be able to reduce the sugar and/or fat by one-fourth or more in some recipes and still have an excellent product,” says Laura Marzen, RD.
- The holiday season might not be the ideal time to focus on weight loss. A more realistic goal is to maintain your weight and keep your diabetes under control. Help yourself to succeed with positive and specific self-talk. For example, if you tell yourself you’ll eat a thin slice of apple pie and a small serving of potatoes, you’re more likely to follow through than if you plan to totally skip these favorites.
- Choose calorie-free beverages such as water with lemon, diet soft drinks, club soda, or mineral water. Punch, eggnog, and alcoholic drinks are loaded with calories that can add up fast. For example, 1 cup of eggnog contains about 340 calories and 35 grams of carb.
- When you’re busy with holiday activities, you might be tempted to skip your workout. Exercise can help you manage hunger, burn calories, reduce stress, and control your blood sugar. In the long run, you’ll have more energy, accomplish more, and enjoy the holidays more if you stay active.
- Make sure you continue to check your blood sugar levels and take your blood glucose-lowering medications as prescribed. Holiday parties, stress, and irregular schedules can cause your blood sugar to be erratic. By monitoring your numbers closely, you can adjust your activities and food choices as needed. When your blood sugar is in good control, you’ll feel better and be able to fully enjoy the festivities.
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The links between obesity and type 2 diabetes are firmly established – without the intervention of a healthy diet and appropriate exercise, obesity can lead to type 2 diabetes over a relatively short period of time.
The good news is that reducing your body weight, by even a small amount, can help improve your body’s insulin sensitivity and lower your risk of developing cardiovascular and metabolic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and types of cancer.
According to the NHS, a 5% reduction in body weight followed up by regular moderate intensity exercise could reduce your type 2 diabetes risk by more than 50%.
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