Sugar? No, please! All around the world, people associate sugar with happiness. Be it birthdays, Christmas, Halloween, or any other celebration, we always have our eyes fixed on the most sugary treat. The sad part is that the ill effects of a sugar-filled diet does not hit you immediately. It waits till you are of age, and it’s already too late as you are now addicted to sugar. You must have noticed that the more you snack on sugary food, the hungrier you feel, making you gain weight in the long run. So if you have been trying to connect the dots to figure out why sugar causes weight gain, we are here with the answers. Read on to know them all.
How Does Eating Sugar Make You Hungrier?
To name all the treats we have been grubbing on since childhood, like cookies, muffins, jam, cake, and bread, they all have sugar in common. Unfortunately, people in the past took ‘sugar and spice make everything nice!’ a bit too seriously. The excess sugar intake does not show immediate results when you are a child, but as you continue with the same diet, your blood sugar levels shoot up and produce a sharp insulin response. When the insulin is pumped to balance the glucose levels, the hormone causes a dip, which the brain detects as a signal to replenish the sugar intake (1).
This sharp rise in insulin increases hunger and craving for something sugary and sweet. So the connection between appetite and insulin is pretty strong since insulin creates an energy crunch, which pushes the body to consume more sugar (2). This is a vicious cycle that continues to pester your cravings for sugar.
Sugar also suppresses the production of leptin, which is a natural appetite suppressor. The hormone ghrelin makes you feel hungrier at regular intervals (3). Sugar also makes you crave calorie-dense food that adds more fat to your body.
Research says that the more you feed on sugary food, the more you become addicted to it. This is because sugar activates the brain’s mesolimbic dopamine system, releasing feel-good hormones like dopamine and opioids (4). They can make you feel pleasure and urge you to feed on sugary food even when you are not hungry.
As addictive as sugar is, it is never easy to just strike off sugar from your diet. Unfortunately, this also includes refined sugar as it increases inflammation in your body and gives way to multiple diseases like diabetes, cardiac problems, and other life-threatening diseases (5).
How Does Sugar Make You Gain Weight?
The connection between eating sugar and weight gain is rather direct. Our body processes sugar and breaks it into glucose molecules. The excess glucose is converted to fat molecules and stored in various body parts to protect it in days of starvation. This might be a suitable mechanism during the hunting-gathering days, but in our current lifestyle, it is redundant as we are less likely to starve.
Even if you get into an active exercise routine, the weight loss will be slow, and the sugar cravings won’t go off quickly. So here are a few ways to tone down your appetite and start off a healthy start to your diet.
1. Add Bulk To Your Meals
The more fiber in your meal, the less you crave sugary snacks (6). Adding vegetables, fruits, and whole grains to your diet will ensure you stay high on calories and don’t feel hungry sooner. You can also add soups to your diet to ensure you eat right when you need to refuel yourself.
2. Add Salad To Your Meal
You are not recommended to starve yourself to get into a healthy diet. Instead, you can replace your meals with something healthy and filling so you won’t feel your stomach rumbling every now and then. Take salads, for example; you can pick a salad of your choice, make it delicious and healthy, and have a bowl full of it before eating a proper meal. Chances are, you will be too full for dessert at the end of that meal.
3. Maintain Your Course
Adding variety to your meals is recommended for your health. However, having multiple courses during your dinner can distract your health and increase the calorie count.
4. A Grapefruit Or Orange Will Help Keep The Appetite At Bay
Research says that low-calorie food high in soluble fibers keeps you feeling fuller for longer hours (7). Fruits like orange and grapefruit can keep your blood sugar levels steady and balance your appetite.
Cravings should not be underestimated; from what we know, they can chip away at your determination and make you grub on something you had promised not to bring near your lips. Even though sugar is a bane to your health, saying goodbye to it in one day is not possible or easy. Like all other addictions, you need to slowly wean it out and replace it with something healthier. So, have you ever been addicted to sugary treats? Let us know in the comments section.