Despite the increasing awareness of sugar's devastating health costs, many remain addicted to its sweet appeal.
Sadly, this often leads us down a path of low-calorie and fat-free foods that promise weight loss benefits.
Dr. Laura Lefkowitz who specializes in nutrition cautions otherwise; these products can be deceptive with their label math.
These synthetic low calorie food products are like Trojan Horses – manipulating both our taste buds as well as entire body systems with ill effects that may not be observable until it is too late…
The Problem With Low Calorie Foods
Despite the wide availability of sugar-free candies, soda, and low/fat free products, why aren’t we losing weight?
Why is America experiencing a nationwide rise in obesity?
It could be because nutrition labels might not be capturing all factors related to weight gain.
Dr. Laura Lefkowitz emphasizes that when it comes to food labels, the consumer should exercise caution and skepticism.
Food companies use deceptive measures such as manipulating portion sizes or implementing certain calorie contents in order to make products more appealing - leading many people to unknowingly eat far larger servings than what is indicated on the label.
The calorie-conscious individual has been duped by so-called "100 Calorie Packs”.
Food companies use deceptive measures such as manipulating portion sizes in order to make products more appealing - leading many people to unknowingly eat far larger servings than what is indicated on the label which end up resulting in weight gain instead of weight loss.
What nutrition labels don't tell you
Although labels on food products are intended to provide consumers with necessary information, regulatory standards can be less than straightforward.
As an example: if a serving size contains very little of an ingredient that is potentially hazardous - such as partially hydrogenated oil – it may not have to appear in the label at all.
For example, when you look at the label of sugar-free, fat-free creamer, it reads:
Serving Size: 1 TBSP (who actually uses just 1 TBSP?)
Total Fat: 0
Total Carb: 3g
Salt doesn’t have any calories, it’s a mineral. So where are you getting 15 calories per tablespoons from?
The 3 grams of total carbs. Where are those carbs from?
Is 2 tablespoons 30 calories? No!
If you look at the ingredients it says:
2. Corn Syrup (SUGAR, they say adds a trivial amount, but not if you use more than one serving, it adds up)
3. Palm Oil (FAT!!! But it says fat-free!)
4. Sodium Caseinate
5. Natural and artificial flavors, etc. (i.e., more and more chemicals and artificial sweeteners)
If you use more than 1 tablespoon of coffee creamer, it's easy to underestimate the amount of sugar and fat consumed.
While 2 tablespoons may not seem like much in isolation, daily consumption can lead to an accumulative increase that could contribute to weight gain or prevent loss efforts over time.
What about artificial sweeteners?
Firstly, According to Dr. Laura Lefkowitz, with artificial sweeteners, we might think we're being healthy, but artificial sweeteners can deceive our brains into thinking that more sweetness is needed.
Some studies have demonstrated how sugar and artificial sweeteners impact the brain differently.
The substances in artificial sweeteners send signals to eat more even when no calories are consumed.
Ultimately this deception may lead us away from health-conscious decisions as cravings for calorific treats escalate over time.
Secondly, our senses can be easily fooled by artificial sweeteners.
When the taste buds detect something sugary, like Coke Zero, they signal our brain to prepare for sugar intake and notify the digestive tract.
As a result, our pancreas produces insulin in anticipation - though no real glucose is present.
To understand the potential pitfalls of a seemingly reasonable plan, let's proffer an example.
In the morning you decide to have coffee with artificial sweetener instead of breakfast.
While this may seem like enough sustenance for you, it has dire implications: artificial sweeteners stimulate your body into releasing insulin but no sugar is readily available for its shuttling function so whatever minute supply there was before runs dangerously low and as a result, hypoglycemia ensues.
When your body is battling hypoglycemia, it activates a cascade of physiological responses to protect itself by stimulating craving for immediate energy sources.
The complex web involving neuroendocrines signals and hormones prompt the need for sugary foods that can be rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream in order to restore normality.
To make matters worse, cravings often arise during peak blood sugar times (such as the afternoon or evening), prompting an irresistible thirst for carbs and sugar despite your our healthy intentions.
The third problem with artificial sweeteners is a phenomenon is “escalation.”
Artificial sweeteners are far sweeter than regular sugar. Equal is 180 times sweeter than sugar.
Splenda is 600 times sweeter than sugar.
Why is this important?
Artificial sweeteners disrupt the way our brains register natural sugar.
These intensely sweet substitutes alter our reaction to sugar and make us think that real sugar is not sweet enough.
Hence you need more and more real sugar to excite your brain and feel satisfied.
The brain is a highly adaptive organ, adapting quickly to its environment.
When it comes to artificial sweeteners, this can mean that even if we're eating more of them over time as our cravings increase, the same amount may give us less satisfaction than before - much like when drug addicts require increasing dosages for the same effects.
making healthier choices
In conclusion, it is best to avoid artificial sweeteners as much as possible due their many harmful side effects.
You should also be wary of food labels as they can exploit your vulnerabilities.
It is important to read the ingredients and decide if what they are claiming makes sense on a practical level.
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