We've got some really good news, friend: When you're on (or considering) a low-sugar diet (we've all tried it), that doesn’t necessarily mean low-carb meals that lack flavor. By the World Health Organization's standards, it means reducing added or “free” sugars in your diet to no more than 10 percent of your daily calories. That means if you were to consume 2,000 calories, consuming no more than 50 grams of added sugars (about 12 teaspoons). The American Health Association is even more conservative, suggesting no more than nine teaspoons a day (37.5 grams) for men, and no more than six teaspoons (25 grams) for women. You can see what that looks like in these low-sugar diet plans.
When we eat added or free sugars (those that exist without being bound to any fiber, protein, or fat to slow down their absorption), we get a rush of sugar to our blood, a spike in insulin, and an unpleasant crash soon after. Over time, this consistent rise and fall of insulin can result in chronic health issues like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and mental health issues.
So what happens when we cut back on the sweet stuff? Well, as we lower our intake of added sugars, our pancreas starts to produce less insulin, which helps improve our sensitivity to the hormone and reduces our risk of type 2 diabetes. With less blood sugar and insulin spikes, we may see some gradual improvements in our mood and energy levels. We may also find that we feel satisfied longer between meals, so we might start to lose some weight.
While at first, you may miss the quick highs of a good hit of sugar, over time, you'll likely find your sweet craving simmer down and stabilize. You may even find that foods with even small amounts of natural sugars, like vegetables, start tasting much sweeter. We're looking at you, cauliflower.
Ready to cut back and start reaping the benefits? Start with these seven simple steps to slash the sugar.