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Did you know that many of the foods you might be eating on a daily basis can be filled with hidden sugars?
Added sugar can be snuck into a variety of foods and beverages. And it doesn’t always look like good old-fashioned table sugar. A lot of the time, seemingly “healthy” items are loaded up with ingredients that are essentially just the same as regular table sugar in the end.
So how can you avoid these things? By knowing what to look for.
In this article, I will cover:
- Why you want to avoid added sugars and sweeteners of any kind.
- Common names for hidden sugars that may appear to be healthy (but aren’t).
- Foods and drinks that often have added sugars.
- Other things to consider.
- The bottom line.
Why you want to avoid sugar completely
One of the best things you can do for your health is to take sugar out of your diet.
Glucose is turned quickly into energy in the body, and it spikes your blood sugar levels. When you eat sugar all the time, your blood glucose is constantly elevated, and this puts pressure on Fat Storing Hormone. Fat Storing Hormone is the hormone that is supposed to lower blood sugar levels when they get too high.
When you eat too much sugar, it really starts to harm your body. In the end, you:
- Raise your blood sugar levels.
- Develop Fat Storing Hormone resistance.
- Experience weight gain and inhibit weight loss efforts.
- Cause type 2 diabetes.
- Become deficient in nutrients.
- Increase your risk for serious diseases like heart disease, dementia, stroke, and obesity.
And that is just the start of the list. Sugar is toxic in the body, and it can do a lot of damage if you include it in your diet.
Unfortunately, most people eat way too many sweets, desserts, and sugary foods. And they often aren’t aware of how much they are actually eating.
Even when you are trying to avoid it, it can be really hard. That’s because sugar hides in so many different foods and is often camouflaged.
Sneaky ways sugar is made to appear healthy
There are many ways in which the food industry makes sugar appear to be healthier than it actually is. It is often packaged in a sneaky way where it doesn’t even appear to be sugar.
Below are some of the words and ingredients to watch out for on your food labels. Remember, they may sound healthy but they are really just sugar in camouflage.
These are some of the different names that can be used:
- Real cane sugar. The word “real” makes it feel healthier. But what is this compared to, fake sugar? It’s really just cane sugar.
- Brown sugar. “Brown” makes it sound healthier, but brown sugar is essentially the same as white sugar. Brown sugar just has a tiny bit of molasses in it, so there might be small, trace amounts of vitamins and minerals in there. But it is not enough to make brown sugar really any different.
- Raw sugar. This is still refined sugar; it just happens to be raw. But raw sugar will still create the same issues with blood sugar as normal cane sugar.
- Coconut sugar. Sounds healthy because it is from coconuts, right? Wrong. Coconut sugar or coconut palm sugar is just another type of added sugar.
- Organic cane sugar. Anything that has the word “organic” must be healthy, right? But organic or not, sugar is not good for you.
- Fruit juice concentrate. Fruit is healthy, right? So this must be healthy too? Wrong. When you heat fruit juice to high temperatures to get the concentrate, you end up with massively concentrated sugar without any of the nutrients. It is not any better than regular table sugar.
- “Made with real fruit.” They might have started with real fruit, but after all the processing what do they actually end up with? Concentrated fructose. Fructose is really bad for blood glucose and Fat Storing Hormone issues.
- “Made with whole grains.” Whole grains aren’t actually healthy; they can deplete you of certain minerals and destroy your stomach. And I guarantee that even if they use whole grains, they are going to put a whole lot of refined grains in there too.
- Brown rice sugar. Again, this is the same thing as regular white cane sugar in the end.
- Beet sugar. Beets are healthy, so beet sugar should be healthy too, right? But the beets they are using are genetically modified, so you will get the added glyphosate pesticides in there too.
- Date sugar.Date sugar might have more vitamins and minerals in it than other forms of sugar, so it is slightly better. But nutrients or not, it will still have a high glycemic index and a similar effect on blood sugar levels as other sweeteners.
- Honey. Although it is from a natural source, honey will still spike blood sugars like all other sweetener options. There is a good amount of fructose in honey, too.
- Maple syrup. This is the same as the other natural sweeteners. It sounds healthy because it is from a natural source, but it really isn’t. It is still an added sugar and will cause the same blood sugar problems.
- Agave nectar. This natural sweetener has tricked a lot of people. Agave is 90% fructose. And it is actually worse than high fructose corn syrup as far as fructose content goes. It is not a healthy sugar alternative, even if it is marketed to be.
- Barley malt syrup. Again, the words here make it sound healthy, but it really isn’t. It will still affect your blood sugar levels like any other form of added sugar.
All of these forms of added sugars are not healthy. They may sound like it, but don’t be fooled.
When looking at labels, look out for any ingredients that contain these words:
- words ending in “ose”
Avoid these ingredients, even if they come from coconuts, beets, or fruit. Avoid them even if they are organic cane sugar, raw cane sugar, or brown sugar. All of these need to be cut from the diet.
Foods and drinks that often have hidden sugars
It isn’t just sweet-tasting cookies, cake, and ice cream that have these sweeteners in them.
There are many different food and beverage items that contain hidden sugars. And they often seem like healthy, good additions to your diet.
But it is usually just marketing, and they usually have many different sweeteners snuck in.
Here are some common culprits to be careful with:
- Protein bars
- Sauces like pasta sauce
- Salad dressings
- Alternative milks
- Nut butters
- Flavored coffees
- Bottled tea
- Tonic water
- Flavored water
- Baked beans
- Breakfast cereals
- Instant oatmeal
- Sports drinks
- Dried or canned fruits
- Protein powders
- Low-fat or fat-free products
When buying any of these products, read labels first. Check to see how many grams of sugar they have in them. If it’s not zero or close to zero, skip them and make another choice.
Other things to consider
Here are some more tips for avoiding sugar and staying healthy:
1. Read labels
You want to check the nutrition facts of any foods that you eat. Check the sugar content. If it isn’t zero grams or close to zero, it is no good.
And read the ingredient list, too. This will help you get familiar with the types of hidden sugars that are in your favorite foods.
2. Look at serving sizes
You have to realize that most of the time, people don’t stop at the recommended serving size. So when you read a nutrition fact label, you have to consider what your actual serving size is.
That can really change things, especially when it comes to how much sugar you are really eating.
3. Watch out for carbs, not just sugars
When you look at the label, look at the total carbohydrates. If there are 0 grams of sugar in something, but a high number of carbs and very little fiber (a healthy type of carb), then it is still not healthy.
For example, potato chips might have 24 g of carbs, 2 g of fiber, and 0 g of sugar. This is a starch, and although there isn’t any sugar content in it, it will still really spike your blood sugar level because of the high carbs.
4. “Natural” products can’t be trusted
Just because something says “natural” does not mean you should eat it. It does not mean it is healthy. So don’t be fooled by that marketing.
5. Don’t eat sugar with protein and fat
When you eat something sugary that also has protein and fat in it (like ice cream, for example), you will end up with much more exaggerated Fat Storing Hormone spikes. The combination is the worst. So be really careful of those types of foods.
The bottom line
Avoiding sugar in your diet can be difficult, because it can be snuck into so many foods that you eat on a daily basis. And not even foods you would consider to be sweets.
Food companies can trick you into thinking that certain products are “healthy” because of the wording they use and the way they present their ingredients. So you’ve got to be aware of how to properly identify the common hidden sugars in foods.
Here are the key takeaways from this article:
- Sugar is toxic in the body.
- Eating too much sugar can lead to serious health issues.
- Avoid any forms of added sugar, even if they seem healthy. Look for hidden sugars in all of your foods.
- Read labels carefully. Look at the nutrition facts, ingredient list, and serving sizes.
Your body does not need glucose as fuel. So you don’t need straight glucose in your diet. Do your best to eliminate all regular sugar and sugar alternatives – and even better all carbs as well. Learn more about how to do just that with the keto diet here.
What are your favorite tips for completely avoiding sugar? Share your thoughts in the comments.