When you think of sugars, most people think of birthday cake, ice cream, and candy! Many don’t realize that carbohydrates are actually digested and broken down into sugars prior to entering the bloodstream. Eating foods high in carbohydrates is almost synonymous to foods high in sugar.
Research studies show that excess sugar increases your risk for chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. Therefore reducing the amount of carbohydrates in your meals is essential to living a healthier lifestyle. Unfortunately, some processed foods and other seemingly healthier food options have a high sodium content, which is balanced out by adding hidden sugar. Foods you would assume are healthy are actually full of sugars in disguise, either as carbohydrates or added sugars.
Sugar reduction is a major component of the ketogenic lifestyle, which many including myself have attributed their significant weight loss to this method of eating. If you are transitioning to a low carbohydrate lifestyle, here are my top hidden sugar offenders to avoid:
1. Fruit Juices/Sports Drinks
Fruit juices and Sports Drinks are all carbohydrates with little to no fiber. One 20-ounce sports drink contains 34 grams of sugar! 100% Fruit Juices are in the same ballpark. Consider water, unsweetened tea or coffee as your main sources for hydration for expedited weight loss.
2. Frozen Dinners
While frozen dinners are super convenient, they are not a healthy choice for reducing sugar. Preservatives like starch and corn syrup (which are made up of sugar) are added to keep these foods fresh, making the average carbohydrate level 30 grams or more. Sodium is also used as a preservative, which increases your cholesterol levels and increases your risk of high blood pressure. Thankfully some brands such as Atkins, Real Good Foods, Life/Lean Cuisine are providing low carbohydrate versions of frozen dinners. If you must have a frozen dinner, remember to check the nutrition facts to see if they are high in carbohydrates.
When made the right way using vegetables as a base with some fruit for sweetness, smoothies can be a great healthy choice. However, most smoothie mixes that are sold in stores or juice bars are filled with added sugar. Fast food Smoothies also add liquid sweeteners to their blends. Your best way of avoiding hidden sugar smoothies is to make vegetable-based smoothies at home, using a handful of whole fresh berries.
Granola Bars and Cereals are often advertised as a health food. However, they are essentially candy bars in disguise. With an ingredient list that includes dextrose, honey, fructose, sugar, and corn syrup, it is nearly impossible to find cereal or granolas that contains less than 10grams of carbohydrates per serving. Even the healthiest brands range from 20-30grams of carbohydrates. If you are craving a warm bowl of cereal, consider my Keto Porridge Recipe from my 7 Day Modified Keto Vegetarian Meal Plan.
5. Ketchup/Barbecue Sauce
Ketchup contains 4 grams per tablespoon which can easily add up when placed on your food. Consider switching to yellow mustard, chipotle mayo, or any other cream based condiment to keep your carbohydrate levels low.
Unfortunately, there are way more than 5 Hidden Sugar Offenders out there. Ultimately, the best way to avoid all hidden sugar offenders is to read nutrition facts prior to purchasing certain foods. Even if you think it’s healthy, you may be surprised by what you find!