For Weight Loss, Is Sugar Your Enemy, or an Invisible Friend?

weight loss, empty calories, sugar substitutes

It’s an energy boost, and a perennial favourite ingredient for the kids, too. It’s also considered a health hazard, leading to tooth decay, obesity, and long-term health and weight loss problems if indulged in excess. Sugar is something that every conscientious parent has wrestled with at one time or another. And there’s good reason to be wary: excess consumption of sugar has been tied to a rash of health hazards. An overview provided by the American Heart Association found links between sugar-sweetened beverages and obesity, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension.

The same study notes that over the past 30 years, total calorie intake has increased by an average of 150 to 300 calories per day, and approximately 50% of this increase comes from liquid calories, like sugar-sweetened drinks. Therefore, should you ban softdrinks and other sugar-heavy foods entirely from your child’s diet? According to Dietician department at the Asian Hospital, this should never be done. It’s not possible to remove candy, zero sugar for the kids, even for reasons of weight loss, because they’ll eat the stuff on the sly. There can be control.

It’s recommended that children consume no more than three to eight teaspoons of added sugar a day, depending on their caloric intakes. For comparison’s sake, a slice of white bread has 0.3 teaspoon of sugar in it; a 3-ounce slice of chocolate cake has eight teaspoons of sugar; and a 355-ml can of cola has a whopping nine teaspoons of sugar. Those teaspoons add up, according to NurtureNetwork.com. For every teaspoon of sugar, which is 5 grams, that provides 20 calories. As refined sugar make up “empty calories” or caloric intake without added vitamins or other nutrients, it is recommended that parents find ways to give kids those calories in other, more nutritious ways.

Nutritious Sugar Substitutes

Fresh fruit is one sugar substitute worth considering. By way of comparison, one teaspoon of sugar, equivalent to 20 calories, is equivalent to half a serving of fruit. And fruit has more nutrients. Fruit juices can be considered as an alternative, though parents should avoid the syrupy solutions that often pass for “fruit juice” in the grocery.

And powdered fruit juices are not real fruit juices. It’s better if you get real, freshly-squeezed fruit juice to be sure. You should also avoid adding sugar to juices.  A child’s sugar intake or any person for that matter should fit into a larger picture because a well-balanced diet for weight loss must have carbohydrates, protein, and good fat.

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Posted in Health, Health and Wellness, Health News

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