The average American eats 17 teaspoons of added sugar a day, and excess sugar consumption has been linked with health issues such as obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.
The sugar that is naturally found in foods like fruits and vegetables has less of an impact on your blood sugar, and fruits and vegetables also contain fiber, vitamins and minerals. Added sugar, found in sweets and certain processed foods such as soda, cakes, and cookies, is where the dangers lurk.
As far as added sugar intake, the American Heart Association recommends:
- Men should consume no more than 9 teaspoons (36 grams or 150 calories) of added sugar per day.
- For women, the number is lower: 6 teaspoons (25 grams or 100 calories) per day. Meanwhile, one 12-ounce can of soda contains 8 teaspoons (32 grams) of added sugar.
Atkins’ low carb lifestyle naturally puts you on the right track. Try these tips for cutting back on added sugar:
- Go for whole foods. Snacks and sweets account for 31% of the added sugar that an average American consumes. Focus on eating whole foods that are naturally low in sugar and high in nutrients, such as vegetables, berries and other low sugar fruits, nuts/seeds, Greek yogurt, protein, olive oil and other healthy fats.
- Watch out for so-called “healthy” drinks like smoothies, fruit juices, soda and sports drinks. In fact, beverages add up to 47% of our added sugar consumption. You’re better off having an actual piece of fruit, which has fiber that will fill you up and keep your blood sugar in check instead of the empty calories found in fruit juice. Cut the sugar in your smoothie with one of these low carb and low sugar smoothie recipes, and swap high sugar sodas for sparkling water or sodas sweetened with non-caloric sweeteners. And let’s not forget about hydrating with
- Ditch the dessert. Or swap your typical high-sugar dessert for a low carb and low sugar dessert recipe.
- Pump up the protein. When you add protein to your meals and snacks, it helps stabilize your blood sugar levels and reduce your appetite and hunger, keeping your sugar cravings at bay. In fact, one study showed that boosting the protein in your diet by 25% reduced cravings by 60%. Plus, digesting and metabolizing protein burns twice the calories than when you eat carbohydrates.
- Read your labels. If a food has 5 grams or more of total sugars or 5 grams or more of added sugars, steer clear. Breads, cereals, and pasta can be Hidden Sugars, while added sugars are also lurking in breakfast foods like packaged oatmeal, cereal, pancakes, muffins, waffles, jams and jellies, as well as the typical sources like cookies, candy, and other snacks.
- Cut the sugar, period. While you’d think that cutting the sugar from your diet would cause you to crave sugar more, research shows that a low carb diet may help to cause a reduction in cravings for sweets.
Your Low Sugar and Low Carb Meal Plan
If you eat a smaller meal or snack every two to three hours, you’ll keep your metabolism burning calories at a steady rate and your blood sugar in check, while calming any sugar cravings:
Breakfast: Your low carb and keto breakfast options are endless, from eggs to smoothies.
Snack: Have a couple protein-packed hard-boiled eggs or a handful of almonds.
Lunch: Nosh on any salad with protein such as chicken or salmon, and whatever veggies you have in the fridge, plus your choice of keto vinaigrette recipes. Or keep Keto Chicken Salad Wraps on hand for a fast and easy lunch when you’re in a time crunch.
Snack: Brie-Stuffed Jalapenos are a spicy, savory snack that are far tastier and satisfying than a bag of chips.
Dinner: Pair any protein with a serving of veggies, whether you’re craving comfort food like Chicken Cauliflower Mac and Cheese or a dish with a south-of-the-border twist like Chicken Fajitas Margarita.