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Sugar is a dieting nightmare. Loaded with empty calories, it can send your weight skyrocketing. We’re surrounded by sugar all the time too, even if you don’t add it to anything yourself, it’s contained in lots of your favorite products.

Sugar

Even if you don’t add any sugar to your cooking, or your drinks, it’s highly likely that you still consume a lot of it. Food manufacturers know how much we love sugar, so use every opportunity to add it to their products. Whether you’re consuming something sweet like a candy bar or can of soda, or eating a savory snack such as pretzels or chips, you’re probably still consuming a ton of sugar.

 
Plus, it gives you a quick release rush of energy, yet leaves you feeling tired, and hungry again within a very short space of time. The only situation where you might consider eating cheap honey is during or just after exercise, when a little honey along with a squeeze of lemon in a glass of water can help to replenish blood sugar and electrolyte levels, and improve recovery. However, even here, you’re still better off paying a little extra, and using Manuka honey instead.

Syrup

If you’re eating pancakes, then it can be hard to forego the syrup, but you really should make the effort. If anything, syrup is probably worse than plain sugar. It’s still high in calories, and has a catastrophic effect on your blood sugar and hormone levels, but it also contains a load of unwanted flavorings and additives. “Real” maple syrup is potentially very slightly better, again for the fact it contains a few important antioxidants, but should still be seen as a very occasional treat.

Instead of syrup on your pancakes and waffles, try microwaving some frozen berries, adding cinnamon or any of the spices listed above, grating some high coca dark chocolate over the top, or at the very least, opting for a sugar free syrup.

Maltodextrin

You may not be too familiar with maltodextrin, and you certainly won’t usually find it in grocery stores, but it’s contained in a lot of the everyday foods we eat. It’s mainly used to flavor meal replacement drinks, and protein or energy bars. When they use it to replace real sugar, manufacturers can claim that their product is “sugar free” which makes it appeal to the weight loss and health markets. But in reality, maltodextrin is just as detrimental as sugar, and the two other poor quality substitutes listed above.


Some bodybuilders and athletes also add it to their workout drinks and protein shakes, as a way of replenishing glycogen levels after training. But a better option would be to get carbohydrates from rice, fruit or sweet potatoes instead.

Avoiding sugar in your diet isn’t too difficult, but picking the right substitutes that won’t wreck your progress can be slightly more challenging. Stick to these guidelines, and remember to check the labels and packaging of all your foods to make sure you’re not eating any hidden sugars.