Here’s a fact: the average American consumes over 47 teaspoons of sugar each day (this shocking number was revealed by researchers at Colorado State University); that’s about 189 grams a day. About 200 years ago, daily consumption of sugar was under 15 grams—research has shown that before the Industrial Revolution, that’s about how much the average person ate. Guess what you didn’t see much of then? Belly fat.
You also didn’t see a population severely overwhelmed by obesity; compare that to now, where two-thirds of our population is overweight and sick and facing crippling medical bills due to the consequences of poor health habits. Don’t get me wrong, I love sweets; but when you eat too much sugar, or what are technically called “caloric sweeteners” (sugar from cane or beet, corn syrup, fruit juice, or even milk), you develop belly fat.
Get Rid of Belly Fat & Still Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth
So what can you eat that’s sweet? The most critical thing you can do is to make sure you stick to 15 grams of sugar or less per day. If you make smarter choices about sweetness, you can still indulge your sweet tooth if you have one. My top recommendations for a healthy “real sweet” taste are stevia and xylitol. These are categorized as “nutritional supplements,” and you can find them at all health-food stores.
Stevia is an herb that originated in South America; it contains no calories, does not cause blood-sugar spikes, and can be used in baking. It’s much sweeter than sugar, which means that you only need a little bit to get the right amount of sweetness. Stevia was approved by the FDA for use in food and drink products, and it’s the first herb-based sweetener to get that approval. Research published in the journal Life Sciences and in the Journal of Human Ecology revealed that stevia is effective in reducing blood pressure and hypertension.
Sugar alcohols are considered nonnutritive sweeteners—this means that they add sweetness to foods and drinks without any nutrients and virtually no calories. Registered dietitians with the Yale-New Haven Hospital confirmed that sugar alcohols have fewer calories than sugar. They also revealed another benefit: these sweeteners don’t cause cavities. Contrary to their name, sugar alcohols are neither a sugar nor an alcohol, but rather a type of carbohydrate. The reason they have fewer calories is because they aren’t completely absorbed by the body (most of a consumed sugar alcohol will be excreted in urine). They also don’t cause blood-sugar spikes like regular sugar does, which means they cause less disturbance to the endocrine system.
There are several types of sugar alcohols, but some of the most popular are xylitol, erythritol, and maltitol. Because sugar alcohols are incompletely absorbed, some can cause gas and bloating when eaten in excess; for this reason, you should avoid eating more than 100 grams in one day. Here’s a little more about the sugar alcohols you’re most likely to encounter:
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol derived from the fiber of various fruits and vegetables. It was originally extracted from birch trees and was found in research done in Finland to help prevent the advancement of osteoporosis.
Maltitol has become very popular for use in baked goods, chocolates, and cookies. Having said that, some of my clients have discovered that too much maltitol can make them feel bloated. Although the reaction is harmless, you may want to adjust your intake of foods that contain maltitol based on your reaction to them.
Erythritol is one of the best sugar alcohols to look for. Research published in the British Journal of Nutrition revealed that it causes significantly less intestinal disturbances. In fact, the fermentation that can occur when other sugar alcohols are consumed in excess does not occur with erythritol—this just means it’s less likely to cause gas.
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Excerpted from The Belly Fat Cure by Jorge Cruise.