OK I’m going to cut straight to it. Yes sugar is bad for you. Sugar does not only make you fat, it also contributes to diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, cardiovascular disease and dementia just to name a few.
Here’s the low down on sugar.
WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR BODY WHEN YOU EAT SUGAR
When you eat sugar, your body has two options on what to do with it:
- Burn it for energy (stored as glygocgen in your muscles)
- Convert and store as fat
Once the sugar reaches your bloodstream, your pancreas releases insulin to deal with it. The more sugar you eat, the more insulin is released. Insulin helps store the sugar as glycogen in your muscles for energy, or as fat. Eating lots of sugar quickly means lots of insulin is released and can actually lead to a drop in blood sugar – i.e. the sugar crash. This signals that you want more sugar.
HOW SUGAR MAKES YOU FAT
The more often your body goes through this process, the more severe the blood sugar spike and the more insulin your body produces. Remember that insulin stores excess sugar as FAT. So your body will become better and better at storing sugar as fat.
The more processed the sugar (i.e. white bread, cakes, etc), the quicker your spike in blood sugar and the more insulin you release. So what about the sugar in fruit? Yes fruit does contain fructose (a sugar!), but it also contains fiber and nutrients. Generally fruit will cause less of a blood sugar spike compared to other refined forms of sugar. Fiber is also a VITAL part of any diet and fruit contains a lot of fiber. Fruit will always be a better choice than any other form of sugar. NOTE: this does NOT include fruit juice, which is often highly concentrated with high amounts of sugar and usually has added sugar on top of that. Read more about fruit here.
OTHER NAMES FOR SUGAR
Sometimes you’ll see sugar on a food label and not realize it because they have labeled it as something different. Be aware. Here are some other sneaky names for sugar:
- Agave nectar
- Brown sugar
- Cane sugar
- Corn syrup
- Evaporated cane juice
- Fruit juice concentrates
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Malt syrup
Always check the carbohydrate and sugar content on the food labels. For reference, a can of coke has 40g of sugar.
Overall, if your goal is weight loss and to lead a healthy life, I would minimize the processed sugars. I’m not saying that you can never eat them again! Just limit to 2-3 times per week maximum. The majority of your sugar should come from natural sources such as fruit.