HOW TO AVOID HIDDEN SUGARS IN YOUR DIET

Stay savvy to sugar sabotage
PHOTO: CAMERON WHITMAN/STOCKSY

So you’ve cut that spoonful of sugar from your morning coffee, you’ve finally kicked that chocolate habit to the curb and that daily can of coke is no longer a staple in your life. If, in a bid to get healthy, you’ve reassessed your daily intake of the sweet stuff and the above changes sound familiar to you, we applaud you. Kicking the sugar habit is downright difficult.

But there are actually a few sneaky ways in which sugar can sabotage your efforts without being so obvious, and we’re here to shed some light on it all. Is sugar subtly getting in the way of your health and fitness goals? Let’s find out...

1 That daily Starbucks

If grabbing a quick coffee on the way to work is part of your morning ritual, you’re not alone. Many of us need that caffeine hit first this morning to wake us up - but just be careful that you’re not also getting a hidden sugar hit in the process.

While a regular black coffee won’t do you any harm, it’s the sugary syrups found in those flavoured lattes that could be sabotaging your healthy eating goals. Steer clear of the hazelnut mochas and the gingerbread lattes - or at least be a little mindful towards the fact that the sugar content could be way higher than you’d thought.

2 Healthily-marketed yoghurts

Yoghurt can be really good for you - Greek yoghurt is packed with protein while natural bio yoghurt contains plenty of good bacteria which can improve gut health. But whether it’s a claim to being fat free or a promise to aid digestion, it seems that there are now so many yoghurts whose supposed health benefits are far outweighed but the adverse health effects of their high sugar content.

Whenever possible, check the ingredients list and opt for a yoghurt that doesn’t contain added sugar. Keep a beady eye on fat-free yoghurts - there’s often tonnes of sugar pumped into them to make up for the flavour lost from removing the fat.

Our top tip? Keep it plain and simple and add your own toppings for flavour.

3 Fruit juice... yes, even the pure stuff!

It’s tempting to believe that fruit juice is super healthy, but here’s the thing: when fruits are juiced rather than eaten whole, we end up losing all that fibre that helps to slow down the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. As a result, your blood sugar levels shoot through the roof - not ideal when we’re trying to stay healthy.

Always aim to eat your fruits whole, it’s how they were meant to be consumed after all. This will also ensure that you get all those vitamins and minerals you’re after, without being at the cost of your health. Another option is to switch to vegetable juices - they have a much lower sugar content and can be just as delicious.

4 Sports and energy drinks

Sports drinks can be super helpful if you’re taking part in really long endurance events, like a marathon, for example. But any workouts less than two to three hours don’t require such a fast sugar hit. Because we often associate sports and energy drinks with exercise, it can be tempting to believe there’s no downside to them. Next time you find yourself reaching for one when you feel your energy plummeting mid-workout, keep in mind that commercially-produced sports drinks tend to be laden with copious amounts of sugar - not to mention artificial colours, sweeteners and preservatives.

The best way to avoid dehydration when you’re working out is to stay hydrated ahead of your session, sipping water constantly throughout the day. Coconut water is also naturally packed with electrolytes so can make a good alternative to sports drinks.

5 Diet soda drinks

Lots of us make that switch over from regular fizzy drinks to diet fizzy drinks in a bid for improved health. And while artificial sweeteners may not exactly be sugar, they can have just as much of a negative effect on the body. Anything that’s artificial should already set off alarm bells, and sweeteners like aspartame are no different. In fact, research from Purdue University has shown that artificial sweeteners can actually send a signal to your gut that tricks it into preparing to receive calories - when the calories don’t follow, the gut gets confused, resulting in hormonal mayhem. Not ideal!

If you do consume drinks that are sweetened, make sure they are done so naturally. These are ingredients that the body recognises, and is therefore able to process and deal with properly. Bored of plain old water? Try infusing it with your favourite fruits.

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE
+
READ

The benefits of yoga that aren't just stretching

And why you should do it
+
READ

Bloating: 5 possible causes

And how to combat them
+
READ

These tips will make meal prep easy

A little preparation could help you nail your health and fitness goals
+
READ

5 ways to switch up your HIIT

Without sacrificing results
+
READ

5 healthy high-protein snacks

Perfect post-workout!
+
READ

Squats... explained!

What's the big deal with squats?