Want lasting energy? Less belly fat? Younger-looking skin? Here’s all the motivation you need to break up with the sweet stuff.
Kicking a sugar habit is challenging—even for the most strong-willed among us. See, research has found that sugar tricks your brain into wanting more and more of it. But there’s good news. A little sweetness is OK—emphasis on little. The American Heart Association recommends no more than six teaspoons of added sugar a day for women. Also okay: the sugar found in whole foods like fruits and veggies, says Kimber Stanhope, Ph.D., a nutritional biologist at the University of California, Davis. “These naturally occurring sugars come packaged with good-for-you vitamins, minerals, fiber, and other nutrients.” But if you can dial back your intake of added sugar, she says, you’ll start to rack up some amazing health benefits. In fact, the perks of the less-sugar life are so good, they may help motivate you to try to cut it (mostly) out.
Say bye-bye to abdominal fat
Everyone knows that a daily sugary soda habit can pack on pounds, especially in the tummy area. But what you may not realize are the potential risks associated with abdominal fat. Sugary fare spikes your blood sugar, triggering a flood of insulin through your body, which over time encourages fat to accumulate around your middle. Known as visceral fat, these fat cells deep in the abdomen are the riskiest kind because they generate adipokines and adipose hormones—chemical troublemakers that travel to your organs and blood vessels, where they bring on the inflammation that can contribute to conditions like heart disease and cancer. So, when you cut back on pop and desserts, you’ll start reducing belly fat and the dangerous conditions that come with it.
Drop extra pounds
Increased insulin levels don’t just add pounds to your stomach; they put fat cells all over your body into calorie-storage overdrive. It’s just not the sort of miracle you want happening in your body.” Replacing refined carbs and sugary foods in your diet with healthy fats helps keep your insulin stable, he says, so fewer calories get stored as fat. As a result, “hunger decreases, metabolism speeds up, and you can lose weight with less struggle.”