Honey or sweetener to lose weight? Differences and Calories | nutrition

Moderating sugar consumption is an important practice for those who want to lose weight. In the quest to continue sweetening juices, teas and coffees with more health and less risk of gaining weight, some people seek to replace sugar with other ingredients that give food and drinks a sweet taste, such as honey and sweetener. But is using honey or sweetener better for weight loss? To help us answer this question, the I Athlete talked to nutritionist Renata Buzzini, who explains the pros and cons of honey and each of the main types of sweeteners. In addition, it specifies how many calories are in each, what the health benefits and risks are. Follow up!

+ Natural sugar alternatives with less impact on health and weight

The sweetener has fewer calories than honey, but honey has more nutritional properties than the sweetener — Photo: Istock Getty Images

But what is the best way to lose weight?

For Renata, the ideal is to avoid the consumption of sweeteners, sugar and honey when it comes to losing weight. According to the nutritionist, each of these products can disrupt the body’s digestive and diuretic properties and even increase food compulsion, through metabolic pathways or triggers. On the one hand, the sweetener has the fewest calories. On the other hand, honey offers more nutritional benefits than sugar and sweetener.

If we are going to think about caloric value, the use of the sweetener wins in this dispute – answers the nutritionist. – Regarding sugar and honey, however, it is necessary to take some precautions with the body as a whole. Substituting sugar for the sweetener makes sense when you take into account the amount of sugar consumed in other foods throughout the day and even then, it should be used in adequate amounts and not put at all.

In addition, a recent study followed 5,158 adults for seven years and found that those who ingested large amounts of artificial sweeteners gained more weight than those who did not use the products. This would happen because people would feel free to consume greater amounts of diet or light foods, exaggerating calories, and because sweeteners would affect the intestinal microbiota, also resulting in weight gain.

+ Sweeteners can make you fat and increase your risk of diabetes

Sweeteners, however, are still the best option for people with diabetes and other metabolic diseases related to insulin resistance, for example. But even among them, there are healthier options, which offer fewer health risks.

– Honey already has several antioxidants: for example, phenolic compounds, such as flavonoids. These substances help the body protect itself from cellular damage caused by free radicals, which participate in the aging process and the emergence of chronic diseases, including heart problems or cancer. In addition, a tablespoon of honey contains 18 mg of potassium, a mineral that maintains the balance of the amount of water in the cells and compensates for the effects of excess sodium in the diet. The food still has antimicrobial activity and should be used during the period of respiratory infection to assist in the immune defenses. Aligning these guidelines with other weight loss strategies, such as a balanced diet and physical activity, is the most appropriate option — answers the nutritionist.

Benefits and calories of honey

Honey is a natural sweetener with anti-inflammatory properties — Photo: Istock Getty Images

Honey is a natural sweetener rich in nutrients such as calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium and is a powerful antioxidant. It can improve digestion and still maintain the intestinal flora, ensuring the proper functioning of the digestive system.

+ Honey: how to consume, choose, preserve and know if it is pure

Buzzini explains that honey has a medium glycemic index and approximately 60 calories per tablespoon, less than the 78 calories per spoon of sugar.. In small doses, it does not stimulate the production of fat, as sugar does, and it is also linked to a lower level of production of ghrelin (a hormone that regulates hunger). In moderation, up to a tablespoon a day, it can be a health ally and not contribute to weight gain..

Honey is better than sugar for people who don’t have glucose-related health issues like diabetes, insulin resistance, hyperinsulinemia, or even reactive hypoglycemia.

– People tend to moderate their consumption of honey because it has a sweeter taste. Nonetheless, It is worth noting that both honey and sugar are carbohydrates and therefore can make you fat if consumed excessively; after all, the extra energy that is not burned by physical activities is converted into fat says the nutritionist.

Despite containing several health benefits, honey can compromise weight loss if consumed in excess. The World Health Organization recommends a maximum of 50 g/day intake of any sugar.

— I recommend the consumption of 25 g/day of added compounds, as we still need to take into account in this total calculation for the day, those that are included in the production of foods that are already sweetened, the industrialized ones. So, try not to exceed a tablespoon full of honey a day – guides Buzzini.

Stevia is indicated for diabetic patients as it improves insulin sensitivity — Photo: Getty Images

Nutritionist Renata Buzzini already says that sweetener consumption can contribute to an acidic environment in the body, leading to weight gain and difficulty losing weight. The substance can still have a negative influence on the work of the liver. According to Buzzini, an organism with an alkaline environment would be much easier to eliminate accumulated fat. However, she points out that, currently, markets and stores offer a wide variety of sweeteners, with healthier ingredients and with a more pleasant flavor to the palate.

Natural sweeteners are derived from plants, vegetables or fruits. However, even natural products go through chemical and refining processes before they reach supermarket shelves. Some natural sweeteners have nutrients, but in small amounts. Artificial sweeteners, in turn, are prepared in the laboratory, many of which are derived from petroleum. In addition, the intake of these substances should be directed by a health professional. Check out the main types:

Xylitol is a natural sweetener resulting from a sugar alcohol. The substance has a taste very close to sugar. It has 2.4 calories per gram and does not raise blood glucose levels, preventing insulin spikes. Excessive consumption should be avoided because, as it is an alcohol, it can cause side effects to the digestive system.

Erythritol is a sweetener that is also a sugar alcohol. It has a very sweet taste on the palate and is low in calories (it has 70% of the sweetening capacity of sucralose and only 0.2 calories per gram). It does not have a high glycemic index, that is, for people with high cholesterol and triglycerides, it is an excellent option because it does not raise blood glucose levels. It is also an alcohol and can be harmful to the digestive system if consumed in large amounts.

Stevia is a low-calorie sweetener that comes from the leaves of a plant called Stevia Rebaudiana. It is indicated for diabetic patients as it improves insulin sensitivity. It is quite versatile, as it adapts well to hot and cold foods, as it remains stable at high temperatures.

In large quantities, artificial sweeteners also affect health — Photo: EuAtleta

Saccharin is derived from petroleum and is one of the oldest artificial sweeteners. It is 300 times sweeter than sucrose (table sugar), is very stable to heating and is easily incorporated into liquid and dry mixtures. It leaves a bitter and metallic aftertaste and is contraindicated for patients with hypertension, as it contains sodium.

Sucralose has 0 calories, being a synthetic substance made from the cane sugar molecule modified in the laboratory. It has 600 times greater sweetening power than sucrose. Its flavor is very similar to white sugar and leaves no aftertaste. Some studies not yet concluded point to a relationship between sucralose consumption and the increase in the number of cases of Irritable Bowel Syndrome and alteration of the intestinal microbiota. It must not be heated.

Aspartame is an artificial product made up of two amino acids: aspartic acid and phenylalanine. Aspartame is about 200 times sweeter than sugar and leaves no bitter or metallic taste. It should not be heated and should not be used by patients with phenylketonuria.

It is also worth noting that all sweeteners have a maximum dose indicated for consumption. Anvisa (National Health Surveillance Agency) determines that this information is in the nutritional table on the packaging of each product.

Why shouldn’t we consume too much sugar?

According to nutritionist Renata Buzzini, excessive consumption of sugar can put health at risk, as it impairs metabolism and alters satiety levels, making us consume more calories than necessary. Ingesting the product in moderation still contributes to weight gain and the worsening of diabetes and insulin resistance.

Sugar has about 78 calories per scoop and has a high glycemic index. This means that the body will need to release large amounts of insulin, promoting rapid absorption of glucose by the tissues and the feeling that you are hungry more quickly.

According to studies by the World Health Organization, of everything we consume during a day, only 10% should be derived from sugar, that is, in a daily diet of 2,000 calories, the ideal consumption of sugars is up to 200 kcal. A point of attention related to the intake of the ingredient is that it is present in many industrialized products, and this helps to consume in quantities greater than recommended.

— Choosing a healthy sugar that has not undergone refinement can make a difference in food, the most suitable being: demerara, coconut or brown sugar, which have a lower glycemic index and more nutrients — explains Buzzini.

+ Do you know the different types of sugar? Expert explains differences

Tips to reduce your consumption of sugars and sweeteners

Dates are a natural alternative for sweetening foods — Photo: Istock Getty Images

According to Renata Buzzini, some tips can help people who want to sweeten their recipes less, but find it difficult to reduce their consumption of sweets or sweetened drinks. The nutritionist recommends eating seasonal fruits, as they are naturally sweeter. You can even try using dates and plums to help sweeten some recipes.

In addition, the well-done (ripe) banana can be a good option to make recipes and add sweet flavor. According to nutri, apple juice is also a great choice to sweeten drinks.

Source:
Renata Buzzini is a nutritionist specialized in Women’s Health at the Faculty of Public Health (USP) and Specialized in Adolescence at the Department of Pediatric Specialties at the Federal University of São Paulo/Escola Paulista de Medicina (UNIFESP/EPM). She works in clinical nutrition, menu therapy, nutritional consultancy and in the participation and elaboration of scientific works.

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