Low Sugar Cereal
Breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day and we agree. However, some cereals, although seemingly healthy, can be packed full of hidden sugars, therefore making a healthy choice can be more difficult than you would think.
It’s all about balance. At Lizis’ we believe that it is possible to enjoy a delicious, nutritious, and low-sugar cereal that will still excite your taste buds and make you feel a whole lot better. Of course, whilst we aim to keep the amount of sugar in each serving as low as possible for all of our products, we have also developed a dedicated low sugar range – with less than 4% sugar. You can find these here:
What is sugar?
In its most simple essence, sugar is a carbohydrate comprised of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. When sugar enters the body, it is digested and broken down into glucose, before being released into the bloodstream.
Glucose is versatile, used as both short and long-term energy sources. Insulin is responsible for transporting glucose to the cells and systems in the body, where it is required
How many grams of sugar should you consume each day?
Having a little sugar in the first meal of the day helps your body break its overnight fast. Our brains run on glucose, so in order to kick start your body and shake off the early morning haze, choosing a low (or lower) sugar cereal for breakfast is a healthy option and helps to get the body and mind ready for the day ahead.
However, overeating refined sugar can negatively impact your health in several ways, which is why it’s important not to do so on a regular basis. If you do need to indulge your sweet tooth, there are healthier ways of doing so; we explain the difference between refined sugar and free sugar below.
It is recommended that adults consume a maximum of 30 grams of ‘free sugars’ a day. However, when it comes to our little loves, it is recommended that children between the ages of 7-10 consume a maximum of 24g each day and children aged between 4-6, should have no more than 19g. This should make up about 5% of our daily calorie intake. To put this into perspective, one teaspoon is around 4g – making it easy to see how it can quickly mount up throughout the day.
If you are thinking about monitoring your sugar intake, we recommend taking the time to read food labels carefully. This includes the list of ingredients (and the packaging labelling), looking out for sugar in all its many forms, such as fructose, sucrose, dextrose, glucose and lactose. However, they can be disguised using various names such as brown rice syrup, agave nectar, cane juice, coconut sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, inverted sugar, palm sugar, rice syrup and white granulated sugar.
Should you increase your sugar intake if you exercise?
We aren’t giving the green light to eat high quantities of sweet treats because you go to the gym a few times a week. However, it’s important to remember that sugar is a carbohydrate, and carbohydrates are essential if you participate in endurance workouts like long-distance running, cycling or swimming.
If you are either exercising for extended periods or exercising for an hour or more most days, you might burn through your glycogen stores because your protein and fat reserves have been used. To go the extra mile, maintaining sufficient carbohydrate levels is necessary. It’s also critical for muscle repair – meaning you can afford to have a little more sugar.
If you are exercising for more than an hour, it is recommended that you consume 5 to 7 grams of carbohydrates per kilo of your weight.
Before you work out, opt for a complex carb to provide longer-lasting energy (a bowl of Lizi’s is the perfect fuel). After an hour of exercise, a simple sugar like a glucose gel will enable you to keep going and once you have finished working out, a combination of protein and carbohydrates.
What is refined sugar vs natural sugars?
As the name suggests, natural sugar occurs naturally in food such as fruit (fructose) and dairy (lactose). Although they contain sugar, they are nutrient-dense – providing the body with essential vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and, in the case of fruit – fibre.
Refined sugar has been extracted through the processing of sugar cane or sugar beets. Typically, it is usually described as sucrose (a combination of glucose and fructose) and used as ‘added’ sugar. Its purpose is to enhance the flavour, colour, and shelf life of foods like fizzy drinks, cereal, fruit juice, sweets, yoghurts, sauces, dressings, biscuits, cakes, and bread, to name just a few examples.
The body treats these two sugars very differently. The body digests refined sugar quickly, leading to a rapid rise in glucose and insulin, leaving you feeling hungry shortly afterwards. Natural occurring sugars on the other hand, for example from fruit, is digested more slowly due to its fibre content, your metabolism is slowed, and you begin to feel full.
Our range of low-sugar granola is packed full of nutrient-dense ingredients. Learn more about them here: Our natural ingredients.
Too much sugar causes inflammation in the body
There are a few different ways an unhealthy digestive system or an unloved gut can negatively impact your health. Being in-tune with your body, and understanding when it needs a little TLC, can help you to make good choices, and feel better every day.
What are the tell-tale signs of poor gut health?
- Bloating, bad tummy aches or irregular toilet visits!
- Unpleasant breath
- Food allergies or sensitivities
- Mood swings or feeling anxious
- Poor memory
- Restless or interrupted sleep
Obviously, this list is not exhaustive, and different people will react in different ways when their digestive system needs a little love. Likewise, these symptoms are not necessarily reflections of poor gut health, but it’s a sensible place to start.
It can also wreak havoc on the digestive system
Eating high quantities of refined sugar can be overwhelming for our digestive system, leaving it unable to digest and absorb it in its entirety. This means that it is left to ferment in the gut, staying longer than it should and causing uncomfortable symptoms like bloating, gas, indigestion and related issues.
A high sugar diet can also lead to increased gut permeability. Put simply, increased permeability (also known as ‘leaky gut’) means that bacteria, toxins and undigested food particles can seep from the gut into the bloodstream, triggering inflammation.
Looking after our digestive health is essential to our overall wellness, so choosing low sugar foods is key.
Learn more about digestive health.
What does sugar do to our skin?
We are once again going to remind you that sugar causes an inflammatory response in the body.
When it comes to looking after our skin, low sugar foods are a great choice. The insulin spike from eating too much sugar causes inflammation, resulting in acne flare-ups and may aggravate other skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
High-glycaemic foods are a catalyst for the breakdown of collagen and elastin through a process of glycation, causing drier and less taught skin thereby leading to wrinkles and dullness. So essentially, sugar plays a role in skin ageing.
So, if you are serious about your skincare, it’s high time you consider your nutrition too.
Can sugar affect our sleep?
Sugar wreaks havoc on the quality of our sleep because of its ability to deplete our magnesium stores.
Studies have shown that participants with a high-sugar diet spent far less time in that essential deep, slow-wave sleep, critical for the physical recovery and repair of the body and maintaining immune and metabolic function. In addition, our digestive system is regulated by the circadian rhythm. Thus, poor sleep leads to the guts own nervous system, responsible for producing hormones and neurotransmitters, falling out of the rhythm and leading to an unhealthy environment, as well as cravings for high-energy, high-sugar foods.
The studies have also shown that a high sugar diet can cause individuals to take longer to fall asleep and wake more frequently.
What happens in your brain when you consume sugar?
Eating sugar can quickly boost energy and alertness, perfect if we have a strenuous day ahead or a gym session planned. However after about 20 minutes, this feeling will pass and lwe will be left feeling easily distracted and unable to focus.
When we put something sweet into our mouth, the brain releases dopamine, a feeling the body wants to relive, and soon we find ourselves repeating it. While the dopamine reaction only happens for the first time with other, healthier foods, sugar is an anomaly. Our body responds in precisely the same way every time we eat it, and with this in mind, it becomes easy to see why eating a high volume of sugary food is hard to resist.
This isn’t the only way that sugar can affect the brain. Studies have shown that brain functions can become impaired with a high sugar diet, leading to inflammation in the brain and impacting short-term memory.
What is more, when sugar enters the digestive system, it stimulates the sugar receptors in the gut, signalling the brain to both release more insulin and store the additional glucose in the fat cells removing it from the bloodstream.
The lack of free glucose leads the brain to think it’s low on energy, causing you to feel hungry quickly, and what do we reach for when we feel low on energy? Sugar.
To learn more about the importance of opting for low sugar foods and improve your diet lifestyle, take a look at some of our articles.
Curb those sugar cravings by choosing hydration, leafy greens, herbals teas and more.
As we’ve mentioned, a diet too high in sugar can prevent the digestion system from working as hard as it can. This blog explains how exercise can help remedy an unhappy gut and gives an insight into pre and probiotic supplements.
Fill your diet with nutrient-rich, low sugar plant-based foods and enjoy all the Veganuary has to offer with our practical guide.