Sugar is one of the most addictive substances around the world, wreaking havoc on our health, weight and fitness. Here are 16 reasons why you should give it up for good. Although, maybe that’s one step too far. We’re all allowed a bit of the good stuff every now and then.
Instead, here are 16 reasons why you should think twice before pouncing on the biscuit tin.
1. Swapping sugar for a quick walk can beat the 3pm slump
Go for a walk instead: just 15 minutes will curb sugar cravings, according to a University of Innsbruck study. As for mindlessly scrolling Instagram, searching #foodporn induces spikes in insulin levels that trigger ‘phantom hunger’.
2. Your sugar RDA is equivalent to 5 bananas
The NHS limit is 90g a day, though you may benefit from more or less, depending on how hard you train. This is equal to five large bananas, a full pint of sorbet or four loaves of white bread. A balanced diet indeed.
3. Eating sweets ages your skin
I’m afraid we’re not discussing Tangfastics’ anti-ageing properties. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition linked blood sugar spiking foods to acne. Zinc-rich foods, however, reduce skin inflammation. Balance a Haribo habit with cashews.
4. Low-calorie sweeteners aren’t a smart weightloss strategy
You’re sweet enough already. Studies by Purdue University found saccharine additives confuse our ability to judge calorie intake based on taste, leading to cravings and potential weight gain. If you’re a zero-cal kind of man, we’d advise you and Diet Coke take a break.
5. Sugar, genetics and inactivity are all causes of diabetes
All three have the potential to cause health problems. But while a heavy sugar habit has been linked to diabetes, excess body fat and poor fitness are shown to play a more pivotal role. Basically, if you habitually chase your weekend run with a coffee-shop flapjack, you’re still in credit.
6. Honey and fructose count towards your daily allowance
A sugar by any other name is just as sweet – and just as likely to contribute to a spectrum of health problems. However, both honey and fructose have been shown to have a gentler impact on blood sugar than table sugar. Consider them the lesser of the delicious evils.
7. We’re most likely to crave sweet snacks when we’re tired
Late nights put you at risk of more than just missing the bus: UC Berkeley found sleep loss blunts brain regions needed for decision-making, while amplifying the parts that control desire. Fix both at once with an avocado breakfast: its fats curb food cravings, while vit E protects your brain from missed sleep.
8. An hour in the bath has a bigger effect on blood sugar than an hour in the gym
A study by Loughborough University scientists found that subjects’ blood sugar was 10% lower after eating if they’d had a hot bath beforehand, compared to a workout. The effects of eating apple crumble in the bath were not studied.
9. A sugar hit causes testosterone levels to sink by 25 per cent
Heavy weights and soft drinks are bad training partners. A 75g hit of sugar causes a 25% drop in T levels, according to Clinical Endocrinology. If you can’t quit the habit, bump your levels up with compound lifts using 85-95% of your 1RM.
10. Excess sugar harms your sperm count
If you won’t cut back on biscuits for yourself, do it for the next generation. A study published in the journal Human Reproduction linked a high sugar intake to poor sperm quality in otherwise healthy men. Excess stored fat around the testicles is one potential cause. And we’re not sure how you’d target that in the gym.
11. Sugar is more addictive than fat and salt
If food is your drug of choice, you can consider sugar a Class A. Research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found the substance lights up the brain’s pleasure system in a way other foods do not, increasing the urge to overindulge. Abstaining from your after-dinner tiramisu in favour of the cheeseboard is an enjoyable way to go clean. Pass the pickle.
12. A sweet tooth can increase your risk of heart disease by 30 per cent
Forget sodium: heart health has a new white, crystalised nemesis. According to a study in the journal Open Heart, those who get 10-25%
of their daily calories from added sugars have a 30% increased risk of death from heart disease, whereas little effect has been seen from salt. Which might change your future popcorn order at the cinema.
13. Drinking a litre of water a day reduces your risk of high blood sugar by 21 per cent
People who drink more H2O are less likely to develop hyperglycemia, reports Hôpital Bichat-Claude in Paris. Not only will dehydration increase the urge to pester your colleagues for Hobnobs at 11am, water also helps your kidneys flush out excess blood sugar.
14. Sugar has been known to enhance and confuse your memory
According to the University of Barcelona, combining your daily caffeine hit with sugar jump-starts your mental dexterity. Best save it for those painfully early morning meetings, though: over time, a sugary diet hinders learning and memory, UCLA reports, damaging communication between brain cells.
15. You’re unlikely to realise how much sugar you’re eating
It’s likely a spoon-stab in the dark. Reading Uni tested subjects’ sugar levels and asked them to guess their intake. While a high intake was linked to obesity, those who thought they ate the most actually weighed less.
16. Sugary drinks can accelerate cell ageing by four-and-a-half years
A sweet tooth can put years on you, as well as pounds. Research in the American Journal of Public Health found that people who have a can of sugary drink per day experience DNA changes typical of cells 4.6 years older – similar changes as those you’d see due to smoking.