By Dr. Jake Wilson
Premium Family Care
If you have ever tried to lose weight and improve your health, it can be frustrating to figure out what specific changes to make. The vast amount of information available is often confusing and contradictory.
Being fit and healthy has been my passion ever since I finished high school. Now as a doctor I make it my mission to help patients navigate the mountains of misinformation when it comes to diet and exercise.
Along with not smoking, diet and exercise are the most important factors in preventing disease and living a long healthy life. The first step most people can to take is to cut out the added sugar.
People who consume more sugar are heavier and are more likely to die of heart disease than people who consume less sugar. The American Heart Association recommends getting no more than 6 tsp (25gm) of added sugar for women and 9 tsp (36gm) for men a day.
To put that in context, a 20oz Mountain Dew has 77gm of sugar, 3 times the DAILY maximum of sugar intake for an adult female. To really cut back on the sugar you have to pay attention to food labels and you will be surprised how much added sugar is in seemingly healthy everyday foods.
For example, Yoplait fat free strawberry yogurt has over 6 tsp (25gm) in a 6 oz container. Similarly, most brands of granola and pasta sauce have a surprisingly high amount of added sugar. If you are getting a flavored coffee beware as those often have a ton of added sugar.
Consumption of other refined carbohydrates also plays a major factor in weight gain.
The process of refining wheat into white flour essentially removes all the nutrition and leaves behind empty calories that your body immediately turns into sugar to store as fat. When you buy bread don’t let the manufacturer trick you. Terms like “Honey Wheat” and “12 grain” are designed to deceive the buyer. Read the label, the FIRST ingredient needs to say “Whole Wheat” or “Whole Grain”.
If the first ingredient is “Enriched Flour” that is essentially white bread in disguise.
The majority of foods that are consumed as snacks are high in sugar and refined carbohydrates; our bodies have evolved over millions of years to store energy as fat during a time of plenty to be used later during times of scarcity. Our tendency to eat constantly leaves no opportunity for our body to tap into our energy reserve. I suggest trying not to eat between meals and not consume anything after dinner but water. When you do snack, the healthiest snacks are nuts or fruit.