Weight loss: How to avoid ‘hidden’ sugars in food – healthy swaps

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While the body needs sugar as a source of energy, it can be hidden in many foods to sweeten them, increasing the amount of calories in the food dramatically. One expert has shared how to avoid unhealthy sugars.

When it comes to losing weight, it is no secret that you must be in a calorie deficit.

This means burning more calories than consuming and there are many tools online to work your deficit out.

However foods with lots of sugar are often very high in calories and can make it harder for a slimmer to lose weight.

Dr. Ian Braithwaite, CEO and founder of Habitual, explained that there are great alternatives you can use instead of sugar.

He said: “Sugar can be hidden in virtually any food under the sun – even meat and other savoury things!

“As a first step to reducing your sugar intake, become vigilant about checking food labels for added sweeteners. 

“Whilst it can take a lot of mental resilience to turn down a cookie or other treat, it’s relatively easy to simply heighten your awareness about hidden sugars.”

While some fruits have a lot of sugar, these are natural and much better for you.

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The expert added: “Opt for fruit – fruits are unrefined and therefore are much better for you than other sweet snacks because of the fibre and nutrients they contain. 

“The obvious conclusion here is to try replacing dessert or sugary snacks with whole fruits, but there may be other opportunities to do this as well, such as swapping sugar in your cereal or porridge for dried berries, or having strawberries with a little chocolate instead of a chocolate bar alone.”

The NHS website explains that adults should have no more than 30g of free sugars a day, which roughly equates to around seven sugar cubes.

Free sugars are found in foods such as sweets, cakes, biscuits, chocolate and some fizzy drinks and fruit juices.

For example, a can of cola can have as much as nine cubes of sugar, more than the recommended daily limit for adults.

Ian continued: “Experiment with your food – spices (like cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger) and extracts (such as vanilla or almond extract) can add a lot of flavour you might be missing in the absence of sugar. 

“There are also tons of alternatives to refined sugar (like unsweetened applesauce and bananas) which can be used in baking and other recipes—which can help to not only cut down your sugar intake, but often decrease calories as well. 

“So try different options out to find new versions you love—and that your body will thank you for.”

How else can you lose weight?

The expert recommends cutting down on carbohydrates.

Ian said: “By no means do we suggest cutting out entire food groups in your diet – but moderation is key when it comes to carbohydrates. 

“Although carbs aren’t inherently bad, in large amounts they can lead to weight gain and increased cardiovascular risk, so bear in mind the guidance that carbs should make up only about ¼ of your meals. 

“If you do overload on carbs in one meal, try to balance out your day by going lighter on the carbs and heavier on proteins and veg in your other meals.”

The expert added that whole grains are often the best option.

He added: “As often as possible, choose whole grains: This means brown rice over white rice, brown bread over white bread, wholewheat pasta over normal pasta. 

“There are a number of other whole grains you might want to experiment with, too, like quinoa and bulgur wheat.”

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