Should you follow a sugar-free diet?

Debunking 'sugar-free'

#sugarfree is the new fat-free. There are sugar-free cakes, sugar-free diet plans and even sugar-free celebrities. But is going sugar-free really the secret to weight loss and healthy eating? Accredited Practising Dietitian Katrine Juel weighs in on the sweet stuff.

What is sugar?

Sugar is a simple carbohydrate which comes in many different forms: glucose, fructose and galactose. Our bodies make sugar from complex carbohydrates, but it is also naturally found in everyday foods, including fruits, vegetables and dairy products. Sugars can also be extracted from sugar cane and added to foods such as lollies and soft drinks.

 

Is sugar-free healthy?

There is a lot of discussion about whether sugar free is bad for you. There are very few completely sugar-free foods. Cutting out foods such as fruits and dairy products, which naturally contain sugar, means missing out on many essential nutrients such as vitamin C and calcium. While foods typically containing sugar are generally not a problem, added sugars are the ones to watch out for.  This means keeping ingredients such as sugar, honey and syrups to a minimum. Instead of avoiding healthy foods like fruit and dairy products, stay away from soft drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, juices, lollies, cakes, biscuits, chocolate and other types of confectionery.  These ultra-processed foods contain large amounts of added sugar and offer very little nutrition in return.

 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends less than 10% of energy should come from added sugars, which equates to less than 50g of added sugars for an average Australian adult. The WHO suggests an excess of added sugars can lead to additional energy intake and weight gain. Learn how to spot sugar on an ingredients list.

 

The bottom line

So should I go sugar-free to lose weight? No doubt swapping foods such as soft drinks, fruit juices and ultra-processed foods for healthy meals is a great strategy to lose weight. However, don’t forget to look at the big picture. Whole fruit and dairy products have several health benefits, even if they do contain a small amount of naturally occurring – not added – sugar.  And if you enjoy 1 tsp of sugar in your coffee with breakfast, this is okay too!

 

Lite n’ Easy uses portion control to minimise the use of added sugar.  Whether you are looking for weight loss, or healthy convenience Lite n’ Easy offers a range of portion-controlled, nutritionally-balanced meals to suit your needs.  Give us a call on 13 15 12 or click here to learn more about our meals.