When you're trying to make healthier life choices, one of the first places to start usually by looking to sugar. It's known for being one of the worst things we have in our diet. Just about everything is full of it too, or so it seems. One way people look to try and cut that out is by buying sugar-free products or carb-free lifestyles, but that's not always a good call. Even these aren’t always the healthiest thing to do unless you know what you’re looking for.


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The Basics

The health and fitness world is full of rumours and myths, and sugar-free snacks and diets are definitely up there with the worst of them for exactly that reason. It’s easy to jump straight to the assumption of sugar-free making things healthy, but it’s often just substituted by something just as bad. In fact, in some cases, they're made even worse.

To make sure that you're making a good choice, however, you need to remember a couple of things. They aren't dramatic, but if you know what you're up against, you're much more likely to make this as healthy as possible. That's what this is all about, after all.

Sugar Substitutes

woman holding sugar cubes and sweeteners

One of the easiest ways to make something have a 0 sugar content is by replacing the sugar with sweeteners. Whether they're natural or artificial, they still find their way in. These are not rare to see, and they remove a lot of the downfalls of sugars while still adding a few of their own. One of the biggest of these is how potent they are, and what they do to that all-important sweet tooth you have.

First up is what they do to your diet, even mentally. Sugar substitutes in sugar-free foods are an easy way to consume more food just because they're sugar-free. If you're more relaxed about what you’re eating and eat more sweetened sugar-free snacks, for example, that's one of the easiest ways to make you crave more sugar due to being used to sweeter foods. That's just asking for more and more calories, even without the white stuff!

On top of that, they lure you into a false sense of security too. As soon as we see sugar free, many of us think we're in the clear. In reality, there's way more to food than just sugar, and that's never just a  green light to eat junk!

All of these little things add up to make a big difference, and although your sugar content decreases from what it was sugar-free, it can actually impact the rest of your diet too.

That's important food for thought.

Higher Fat

Plate of healthy foods - egg, lettuce, avocado

On a much more direct level, many things that are low in sugar or sugar-free often have another big taste changer. Instead of making the products that you consume sweeter using additives, sometimes they just make them taste more enjoyable by a sly addition of fats. Worse still; a lot of the time it’s not even sly (we’re looking at you keto).

Adding more fat is an easy way to get a naturally “nicer” taste again. The problem is that it poses the same issues that we saw from using artificial sweeteners. In the long run, that can easily have a serious impact on your health. What’s different about fats is that, again, unlike sweeteners, these are still pretty high in calories. Usually, the fats that are in there are classed as bad fats (here’s the difference).

You need to think about all these things before making a sugar-free switch, especially when looking at the foods you eat daily. Sometimes, it can be a smart choice to simply try and get more natural sugar sources instead of the usual added sugar foods. They don't have to be bad for you, after all.

The Decision

Whatever you decide to do, make sure you keep a balanced diet and that you’re eating as well as you can. High-fat diets are definitely not a wise choice, and usually, neither is sugar-free. Find a healthy balance between foods you enjoy and food that benefit your health.

For more information, please look at some of the resources we used like Harvard Health and NHS.


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