The Truth About Sugar

Sometimes, it seems you can’t escape something, no matter how far or fast you run away. Reading over some food labels with my children the other day, it became readily apparent that virtually no matter what we eat, it seems to have sugar in it. Kid’s pre made food is no exception, in fact, one could substantiate an argument that it contains more sugars than foods marketed for adults. Take yogurts, for example. A “kid friendly” yogurt can have as much as 40 or more grams of sugar per serving. That’s as much sugar as is found in a can of Coke. The average person, it is said, consumes nearly 55 pounds of sugar per year which is the equivalent of close to 300 calories from sugar alone per day.

What exactly is sugar? Sugar is the nickname of short chain, water soluble, sweet tasting carbohydrates. They are composed of hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen. Sugars come in many varieties as well. There are simple sugars, commonly referred to as monosaccharides, which includes Fructose, which is found in fruits, galactose, and glucose, which itself is also referred to as dextrose. Glucose is found in plants and is a byproduct of photosynthesis. In our bodies, most carbs during the digestive process, are converted to glucose.

The type of sugar we tend to conjure up in our minds when we think of sugars is sucrose. Sucrose is the common sugar that we see at restaurants for coffee, tea, etc. Sucrose is classified as a disaccharide because as we ingest it, our body will turn it into Glucose and Fructose during the digestion process. Maltose and Lactose, the sugar found in milk, which some folks are highly allergic to, are also classified as disaccharides. There is also another classification of sugars known as oligosaccharides which are comprised of a more complex, and longer chain.

Sugar is even found in plants, though the sugarcane and sugar beet plants are the only known plants to have an ample amount of sugar to have extracted and used in our food. Sugarcane, for example is used in Coca Cola down in Mexico, as it was here in the United States for years before it was replaced by the less expensive, and easier to replenish, high fructose corn syrup.

As with most anything concerning nutrition, there is a major difference between processed foods and their natural counterparts, which are unprocessed. A good example of this would be Carbohydrates. There are simple, refined sugars such those found in white bread, and there are the complex carbohydrates which aren’t processed, and thus retain more of the grain. Wheat bread would be a stellar example of a complex carbohydrate.

It has long been known that too much sugar, especially processed and refined sugars, can lead to obesity, heart disease, dental decay, diabetes, and hyperactivity in especially children. It’s excessive consumption has further been suspected to promote cardiovascular disease, dementia, and macular degeneration. Numerous studies have drawn interesting, but varied results simply because of the difficulty of finding a control group that doesn’t consume copious amounts of sugar.

In years past, it was widely held that blood glucose levels were raised quicker by sugars than by starches, due to it’s simpler construction, but now, scientists have upended those findings and assumptions by showing that fast food french fries, white breads, etc, can elevate blood glucose levels just as quickly as sugar, or with glucose directly.

Since there are a plethora of sugars, and they are seemingly in most everything we consume, whether the good, natural variety, or the processed and refined type, we have come to rely upon a scale known as the glycemic index, to determine a carbohydrate’s usefulness in the body. In other words, how fast will the energy source be burned up? Will it have a slow burning effect that provides a longer sustaining energy source, or will it be a flash in the pan, so to speak? The glycemic index is a chart that shows how a certain food will elevate our glucose levels in the bloodstream. The glycemic load, is another chart, used by diabetics, especially, which weighs the levels of sugar in the food and combines that with the speed with which the food raises the glucose levels in the bloodstream.

As a longtime Austin personal trainer, I have seen an unequivocal correlation between people who either omit refined sugars from their diets, or implement a substantial reduction of sugar in their nutrition, and those that don’t. Especially when it comes to weight loss. Calories aren’t simply calories. They are far from being created equal, which is something that a lot of people who are trying to lose weight don’t realize. The source of the calorie is every bit as important as a food’s caloric value, as far as an energy source for the body, as well as how it gets processed and subsequently, stored. Loading up on starchy, sugary foods, as opposed to making good dietary decisions, even though the caloric values may present themselves as similar, will only promote water retention, as the kidneys retain sodium when there’s an abundance of carbohydrates introduced into the body, and ultimately, what isn’t used for fuel, or excreted, will be stored as fat.

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Sugar is something that is very integrated into our society. From desserts, to Halloween and Easter candies we consume it voraciously. Austin personal trainer Andy Bruchey isn't such a fan of sugar and in this article, he explains why.
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Andy Bruchey- Complete Fitness Design
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Complete Fitness Design
Complete Fitness Design
3100 W Slaughter Ln Austin, TX 78748

About Andy

My name is Andy Bruchey and I am a longtime Austin personal trainer having founded Complete Fitness Design over 20 years ago. I specialize in weight loss/gain, including the addition of quality, lean muscle mass, corrective flexibility, post injury rehabilitation, nutrition, and sports specific training for professionals. Contact me today to see how I can help you!
3100 W Slaughter Ln Austin , Texas 78748 512-484-2270