Gaining and losing weight is often associated with how many "treats" you're eating. People often assume if you cut back on sugar you'll drop some pounds. While this can be true, it's important to understand what sugar is and the role it plays in keeping your body healthy. After all, with Food Lovers Fat Loss program you never have to avoid foods, especially not your favorites. Read on to learn all about sugar:

What is sugar?
Sugar comes in many forms. This can make it hard to note how much is in the food you are eating. When looking at nutrition labels, you'll only spot how many grams of sugar the item has. However, if the ingredient label does not contain the word "sugar" it may still contain a sweetener. Women's Health Magazine noted there are 56 names for sugar. These are some forms that you may come across: 

  • Sucrose.
  • Glucose.
  • Cane syrup.
  • Fruit juice concentrate.
  • Nectar.
  • Molasses.
  • Malt syrup.
  • Corn sweetener.
  • High-fructose corn syrup.
  • Maltose.
  • Honey.
  • Beet sugar.
  • Turbinado sugar.
  • Lactose.
  • Dextran.

The list truly goes on and on. One key to look for is the suffix "-ose," which means "full of" and is often found in sweeteners. Not included in the series above are sweeteners under brand names, such as Sweet'N Low or Splenda. While these are considered artificial sweeteners, they can also have similar affects on your blood sugar as regular crystallized sugars. 

How does sugar affect the body?
According to the National Institutes of Health, your body needs to maintain a specific blood sugar level in order to operate in an optimal fashion. Basically, when you eat food, your body processes it, taking it from raw or cooked ingredients and converting it into glucose, a form of blood sugar, which is the body's preferred form of usable energy. When your blood glucose levels spike (or become excessive), such as after eating sugary items, your body releases insulin to compensate. When your blood sugar levels are too high, your body goes into 'fat-storing' mode, storing that extra sugar/glucose as fat cells. Over time, frequently ingesting sweets can lead to diabetes, which has been linked with being overweight or obese. 

It's important to note that you don't need to avoid sugar entirely. The Food Lovers Fat Loss plan, for example, still allows you to enjoy your favorite foods - even the sweet ones. Rather than avoiding certain foods, users learn how to create healthy, nutritionally-balanced meals that combine various proteins and fast and slow carbohydrates. These meals (and snacks) are designed to keep blood sugar levels in check throughout the day so that your metabolism spends as much time in 'fat-burning' mode as possible. That way you can still enjoy your favorite dishes and treats without feeling deprived.

What foods should I watch out for?
Sugar is often a factor in foods you may never have guessed contain sweeteners. Many store-bought sauces like marinara or Alfredo are made with sugar. Take a look at the condiments in your refrigerator. Everything from salad dressing to ketchup, mustard and pickles likely has some form of the sweetener. It's easy to eat extra calories by adding these toppers to your pasta or salad. Here are a few other foods you may not know contain sugars:

  • Milk.
  • Yogurt (particularly flavored kinds, from honey to fruit varieties).
  • Granola.
  • Bottled teas.
  • Baked beans.
  • Energy bars.
  • Breads (white and wheat versions often contain sugars).
  • Sports drinks.
  • Barbecue sauce.

What about artificial sweeteners?
The regular versus diet soda war has been waging for years and no one seems to know which is the "healthier" or "better" option. The main difference between the drinks is what kind of sugar they use. Diet colas include artificial sweetener with little to no calories. Regular sodas use real sugar, which bumps up the calorie count. It's important to note that artificial sweeteners, and therefore diet colas, contain more chemicals than regular pops because they are made with aspartame, neotame and phenylalanine. The Sugar Association notes that these three ingredients are intensely sweet acids, and some studies suggest that even though they are not technically sugars, they may still trigger the 'fat-storing' response. Consuming soda, regardless if it's diet or regular, has been found to increase a person's likelihood of gaining weight and potentially becoming obese.