The Sugar Hype

Sunday 11 December 2016

You guys would have read/seen all the hype surrounding sugar in the past 5 or so years. Gone are the days of fat being the leading contributor of heart disease and other such illnesses. Of course, fact still remains that certain fats are linked with a number of debilitating chronic illnesses and even death (in excess consumption), in particular; fats found in such products as processed oils. But I’m here to shed some light on sugar, the effects it has on our bodies and how different types of sugars should be approached.

There are numerous types of sugar and it is very difficult to determine what means what. I want to make this as simple as possible and say that ALL sugar should be treated the SAME. With the exception of fruit (which I will go into detail about soon). Any food product that contains the word ‘sugar’, or words ending with ‘ose’ (glucose, sucrose, fructose, lactose etc.) should be avoided. Same goes with fruit juice (and juice concentrate), honey, and all types of syrups.

When sugar is eaten, it is almost immediately digested and released from the small intestine into the blood stream. It causes an increase in your blood-sugar level and provides a ‘spike’ of energy usually followed by a ‘crash’, where energy levels suddenly drop to near nothing.

Insulin is released into the system to counter-act this rise in blood sugar and bring it back to an acceptable rate. Insulin is a hormone produced by the body to keep blood sugar level in check and acts as a promoter of energy storage by forcing energy converted through digestion into in the liver and muscles, storing it, ready to go when it is required.

Because sugar rises your blood sugar levels so quickly, it makes the body feel as though it has just eaten a mass amount of food, insulin is pumped out and packs the muscles and liver full of the digested sugar. This storage of energy (in the form of glucose) is too much for the liver and muscles to hold. Once energy storage is full (which isn’t much due to sugars high calorie count), the body automatically switches to fat-storage mode, storing all that sugar as fat. In basic terms, sugar is stored as fat in your body almost immediately unless that energy is used at the time of consumption.

Fruit….fruit is high in sugar yes. BUT because fruit contains a high amount of fiber, the body does not digest this sugar the same as it would pure sugar. The fiber slows down the digestive process, insulin is realized slowly and blood sugar levels rise at a much steadier rate and do not cause a crash in energy. I do advise to keep fruit to no more than 2-3 pieces a day.

Types of sugar. It doesn’t matter how ‘pure’ or natural a sugar type is. If it has the word sugar in it, then treat it as sugar. Coconut sugar, brown sugar etc. these forms of so called healthy sugars should be treated exactly the same and eaten in moderation.

Fruit juice, honey, maple syrup – all the same. Stated as natural and healthy, and although they carry health promoting properties, these are all 100% sugar and should be used in moderation. The benefits of these foods don’t mean you can eat them in mass amounts, just be careful with your consumption.

Smoothies and fruit pouches (baby food). This will get some of you stumped as I have informed you that I don’t mind you eating these things. I don’t mind you eating them, but they MUST be used in moderation also. I find just before a workout, or just after is the best time to use these products. Because the fruit is ground down to nothing in both smoothies and baby food, the fiber content is completely destroyed, effectively making them100% sugar (not exact, as there is still a large number of vitamins and minerals that slow down the rate of digestion), slightly better than sugar but will still be digested the same way.

I don’t want people to be put off. I drink smoothies once or twice a week and they contain a number of health benefits, but it isn’t something I would advise more than one a day of. And have baby food from time to time also. Our programmes are about moderation and these sugary foods should be consumed in MODERATION. When possible, eat whole fruits.

I hope this opens your eyes up a wee bit on sugar and how it effects our bodies. Especially important for those of you wanting to lose weight, sugar is almost ALWAYS the one to blame, not carbs or fat (believe it or not).

Let’s learn to find alternatives instead and keep sugary foods to a minimum. I don’t believe they are bad for us in moderation, but if they are consumed excessively then they can carry some nasty side effects and illness. It’s up to you to find that balance.

Ben