Is Sugar Bad for Weight Loss?
Sugar? Simple Carbohydrates? Do you think these are detrimental to your weight loss goals? Do you think eating ice-cream, chocolates, cupcakes, donuts will negatively impact your fat loss and hence, you shy away from them? Well, what if I told you, you could eat all of them and still lose fat and even get abs?
Sounds shocking, right?
Well, that is the main purpose of this article i.e. to bust the weight loss myths associated with sugar. 99% of the nutritionists and coaches/gym trainers will tell you to stay away from sugar, but do they really know the science behind it and the actual research to show that high sugar or moderate sugar diets on weight loss negatively impact our results? NO.
First of all, the main criteria in weight loss diet, which you might already know is creating a “Caloric Deficit” i.e. consuming lesser calories than you are currently consuming.
So, for example, let’s assume you need 2500 calories every day to maintain your current weight and you drop the calories by 500 in order to lose weight (you created a caloric deficit). So now you are consuming 2000 calories to lose weight. These 2000 calories will be further bifurcated into Proteins, Carbohydrates, and Fats.
Now keeping the proteins at about 1g/lb of lean body mass or say 20-25% of total calories and fat intake around 15-30% you will be consuming the rest of the calories via carbs.
These carbohydrates sources can be anything, such as the so called “clean options” like broccoli, roti, brown rice, etc. or “sugary/junk foods” like donuts, white rice, ice-creams, cookies.
What the research says?
In a research program, people were placed on a weight loss diet like this, for example 2000 calories, where some were placed on a “high-sucrose” i.e. high sugar diet of say around 43% of carbs being sugar and the other groups on a “low-sucrose” i.e. low-sugar diet say around 10% or lower.
What was found that there was “No significant difference in weight loss by both groups.”
Excerpt from a study: “Lowering the glycemic load and glycemic index of weight reduction diets does not provide any added benefit to energy restriction in promoting weight loss in obese subjects.”
Result? As long your calories are in control and you are not exceeding your daily limit you will lose weight, improve insulin sensitivity, whether you get those carbohydrate calories from donuts or brown rice!
Impact on overall health
Now you might argue, weight loss is fine, what about overall health, isn’t sugar bad in that aspect?
Well, during the research, blood tests were done before and after following the diet, and BOTH groups improved blood lipid profile, improved insulin sensitivity, improved blood cholesterol levels.
Excerpt from another study: “Results showed that a high sucrose content in a hypo energetic, low-fat diet did not adversely affect weight loss, metabolism, plasma lipids, or emotional affect.”
It is important to note here, that if you have more sugar in your diet, ensure that you get enough fibre as well, i.e. approximately around 15gms per 1000 calories every day. Fibre keeps you feeling more satiated and also has a higher thermic effect i.e. your body burns more calories trying to digest it.
No, sugar doesn’t affect your health as long you keep calories in check.
Now this does not mean you keep eating donuts, cookies and consume soft drinks all day. Think of your calories as a budget, if you have enough to spend on leisure items like donuts, cake, after taking care of essentials like the proteins, fibre, good fats, then why not?
This means, if you’ve consumed say 150gms of carbs in the day and still have 50gms left for the day as your goal maybe 200gms on a diet then, you can most definitely eat that scoop of ice-cream (assuming it has less than 50gms of carbs) and still lose weight and not feel guilty about it.
I mean, just ask yourself, how long can you stay on a diet that restricts you from eating all such things that you love? I always say
“The best diet for anyone is the one they can adhere to for the longest period.”
Also, research shows that people who indulge in “clean eating” often go overboard, and binge eating symptoms develop much easily. This style of dieting I just touched upon is known as “Flexible Dieting” or “IIFYM: If It Fits Your Macros.”
I will discuss this diet in detail and how you can implement it and lose fat while eating your favourite foods every day, in the next set of articles.
Share this article with your friends and family, save them from the fear of sugar during dieting.
-“Fuelled By Passion, Backed By Science.”
(Certified Fitness Trainer/Strength Coach/Nutritionist/Blogger)