Who doesn’t love a little (or more) sugar? Even the fitness of athletes experience cravings for something sweet now and again. And, we know that, when you’re having a tough day, it can be hard to put those cravings aside and focus on a more balanced diet – one essential to a healthy fitness plan.
We also know that refined sugars are bad for our health, our fitness levels, and overall wellbeing – overdose on sugar and you stand the risk of weight gain, diabetes, or even heart disease. But it’s hard to stay away from all refined sugars even if you try – be it that pick-me-up afternoon treat or a celebratory dessert – as it’s in almost everything from bread to cereal. And fat-free products are also big culprits of high sugar content!
So, what to do? We asked Bikini Champion Jenna Carmen’s advice – as one of our resident athletes and our Fit & Firm Brand Ambassador, she’s passionate about leading a fit healthy life and eating well.
Top tips for cutting the sugar
1. Watch the amount
How much is too much? The American Heart Association recommends a maximum of six teaspoons of added sugar a day for women (about 100 calories) and nine teaspoons for men (about 150 calories). If a can of Coke has 8 teaspoons, you can see how easy it is to reach these limits.
2. Be prepared
If you prep your meals, you are less likely to grab a sugary snack when you’re feeling hungry. The key is to choose whole and organic super foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, as well as satisfying protein sources. These foods are high in nutrients and will make the most of your calories, as well as minimise the added sugars you’re eating.
3. Snack well
Make sure that you always have healthy snacks on hand so that you don’t go hungry… or go crazy when the sweet jar comes round. Having these less sugary options on hand can help you deal with sugar cravings and, if you really feel like sugar, try having a fruit instead.
4. Think before you drink
It’s no secret that the main source of added sugars is in fruit juices, fizzy drinks, and energy drinks. These beverages have little to no nutritional value and research shows they may contribute to hunger rather than quenching thirst. Thirsty? Drink water (most of us don’t drink enough) or whizz up a smoothie, protein shake, or freshly squeezed veggie juice for that thirst buster.
5. Shop strategically
Take a good look at your shopping list and start buying products with less added sugar. There are more and more products advertising ‘no added sugar’ so keep an eye out for them. This can be from cookies to granola bars to yoghurt so you don’t have to limit snacks, just pick healthier options.
6. Eliminate temptation at home
Help yourself as you’re trying to cut back on the sweet stuff by removing sugary temptations from sight. Get those sugary foods out of your environment and you won’t be able to eat that chocolate when you start craving it while watching late night TV.
Removing refined sugar from your diet can be tough but it is possible to reduce what you put into your body on a regular basis. Need some food inspiration and fitness tips? Have a look at our Facebook page and website. From our performance series to our range of organic products and vegan supplements, at Muscle Wellness, we believe in holistic fitness – building strong bodies and minds through regular exercise and a healthy, properly supplemented diet.