Sugar is more addictive than cocaine…
–Some clickbait video you scrolled over on Facebook.
Clickbait or not, sugar has been hyped up a lot lately. Is it really killing you?
The most important factor of fat loss: energy balance.
Calories in < calories out = fat loss
Energy balance doesn’t have specific conditions like many “clean eaters” believe:
Calories in (unless contains sugar, pizza, or wine) < calories out = fat loss*
*Not how it works
Energy balance isn’t the only thing that affects fat loss, but it’s the biggest difference maker. Before you start worrying about eliminating any foods, your first priority should be living in a calorie deficit.
Ok, so you understand energy balance. On to sugar.
Natural sugars are found in fruits as fructose, and in dairy products as lactose.
Foods containing naturally occurring sugars also contain many nutrients important to staying healthy.
Berries contain sugar. They also contain many nutrients and antioxidants. Cutting berries from your diet would make you less healthy. There’s no need to cut naturally occurring sugars from your diet.
Refined sugar is added to many processed foods. Most of these foods also contain very few nutrients.
As mentioned earlier, you could eat strictly refined foods and still lose weight. But you’d feel awful. You’d get sick constantly. And put yourself at a much higher risk for life threatening diseases (i.e. cancer). Despite losing weight, eating like this would make your health drastically worse.
When we eat certain foods, a dopamine response is triggered in the brain. Feels good.
Problem is, processed foods are engineered to be hyperpalatable. When we eat foods loaded with sugar, we get an extra-large dopamine rush. Eating it almost becomes “rewarding”. Naturally, we want to eat more. And more. And more.
Addictive? Getting into the realm of food addiction is a bit beyond my scope, but if you’re interested in the topic, check out this article:https://www.precisionnutrition.com/all-about-food-addiction
Cutting back on refined sugars is a good idea. It eliminates a lot of nutrient void, calorie packed foods from your diet. For most people, eating too many foods like this is what’s making them overweight.
It’s not the sugar itself that’s causing obesity. It’s that foods like this contain so many calories, and are extremely easy to eat lots of, partially due to the sugar.
But again, eliminating sugar entirely is not necessary. If you can eat a mostly whole foods, and practice self-control when it comes to occasionally enjoying processed foods, then great! That’s perfectly fine.