I'm trying to lose weight and be healthy, so my trainer said sugar is out, but he also said that artificial sweeteners give you cancer.  So how can I sweeten things?  Is honey ok?

There are a few sugar substitutes out there, and although research isn't conclusive that artificial sweeteners will give you cancer, there are animal trials that suggest that it might.  Regardless of the research, there are just some of us out there that are sensitive to these type of sweeteners.  So it's totally up to you if you choose to use them.  Me personally, I get a dry mouth, stomach ache, irritable mood and trouble sleeping.

A study published a few years ago implicated artificial sweeteners in weight gain, via the body's response to the sweetener.  It claimed that the body would still think it was consuming sugar, but on not receiving the calories from the supposed sugar it would somewhat "freak out".  It's hypothesised that more calories would be consumed overall or less calories expended as the body tries to find and obtain its missing sugar calories.

Sugar Alcohols (Xylitol, Mannitol, Sorbitol...anything with an -ol) are chemically altered versions of sugar (sucrose).  These have less calories than sucrose, but more than artificial sweetners.  Excess consumption can cause diarreah as sugar alcohols pass through the small intestine, whereas sucrose would be absorbed.

Honey is a sugar.  The sugar in honey has the same calories gram for gram as the sugar in a packet of
Chelsea.  Active Manuka Honey has some great healing properties - but if the goal is weight loss, then the healing properties don't really matter as much as the calories and the insulin spike does.  Honey consists of fructose, sucrose, glucose and maltose.

But here's the best news.  Stevia is a natural sweetener, with no calories and it's not artificial.  In fact, Stevia can actually enhance glucose tolerance, so it's suitable for diabetics also.  It's been used for hundreds of years by indigenous people.  You can also cook with Stevia, unlike some artificial sweeteners, which mustn't be heated.

Purevia is a new product which combines Stevia with a sugar alcohol Erythritol and a sugar called Isomaltulose.  Purevia doesn't raise insulin levels like sugar does, but again may cause a laxative effect with excess consumption.  It still has around 8cals per sachet (although the box incorrectly says its only 3.1) A 5g tsp of sugar contains 20cals, and will raise insulin.

I recommend Stevia as the best option, it's available from health food shops and various nutritionists around the country.

While calories do count, what we are trying to achieve with this no sugar thing, is to have our insulin levels kept at a low to moderate level.  If insulin, our fuel storing hormone spikes, then our fuel utilising hormones are switched off, as the two can't work together.  So for optimal fat loss, don't cut the carbs completely, but stick to low GI carbs that will allow all hormones to work together, and this means...no sugar.

29 July 10

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