Apart from the obvious: Diabetes/hypertension/heart disease and accelerated aging…but here's what you need to know:
Sugar however doesn’t directly cause these health problems, but eating too much in our diet every day is a good way of making us fat and diminishing our health. The average person can eat up to 28 tea spoons a day (450 calories worth) and the worst thing is that we don’t even realise we are doing it! Sugars are hidden in our everyday consumable products e.g. cereal, readymade sauces, readymade meals, fizzy and soft drinks… basically anything processed. These goods can also be advertised as “healthy options”, it’s not surprising then that obesity is on the rise.
Sugar is Sugar… whether its fructose, glucose. The only thing that changes is how our body breaks and utilises this form of sugar. Here are the basics that we need to know:
Glucose is sugar that is processed into glycogen and is eventually stored in our cells for energy. Any excess is turned into fat. Glucose on its own isn’t sweet, but when paired with fructose it becomes what we are accustomed to as sugar. Glucose should be used after an intense workout to replenish energy stores quickly. But from a body composition point of view it should be avoided.
Fructose is sugar found from fruits and some vegetables. It makes up a high proportion of sweeteners too. Fructose is metabolized by the liver and doesn’t raise insulin! But studies have found added fructose can put you at greater risk of diabetes, fat gain and raise the dreaded visceral fat. Be wary of sweeteners with a high percentage of Fructose to glucose ratio, as it may only have a low glycaemic index (how fast sugar is released into the blood stream) but it can slow your metabolic rate and any excess will be turned into fat!
Addiction isn't about substance - you aren't addicted to the substance, you are addicted to the alteration of mood that the substance brings. -Susan Cheever-[tweet this].
“The Catch 22 about Sugar”
Sugar is addictive! So eating sugar in moderation by concept will be hard… you are always going to be craving sugar! Here’s the science: Sugar has the effect of altering hormone responses and brain function so we are driven to eat more of it. Funnily enough Sugar can manipulate the brain very similar to heroin.
Many people eat some if not a strong foundation of processed foods, nearly all of which contain some added sugar, leading to intensified cravings. This is putting you at risk of insulin resistance, diabetes, obesity and disease.
The Moral of the Story?
Stay away from processed foods and you might have a chance of avoiding sugar… Look at the labels of shop bought goods and look for those added sugars. Usually if it says its fat free they’ve added sugar to compensate. Just because it’s got more protein doesn’t mean it’s healthy, it may have more protein but still have those sugars. Keep sugary fruits to a minimum. Bananas for example are high in sugars and are great for an energy boost before or after an intense session! Having it for lunch at the office is only going to spike your sugar levels and then any excess will be stored as fat.
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Thanks for reading and happy Training
Tri Force Training
Sean Baldwin is the founder of Tri Force Training, a Personal Training service in Harrogate.