We All Know Sugar Is Bad For Us Right?
Did you know sugar has increased in consumption like no other dietary option in history? We consume more sugar than every other stimulant - including tobacco, coffee, tea, and alcohol!
Did you know sugar has increased in consumption like no other dietary option in history? We consume more sugar than every other stimulant - including tobacco, coffee, tea, and alcohol! Astounding. But do you understand the different kinds of sugar and what it means for your body and health? Sometimes that can be confusing. There lots of different types/names of sugars and sweeteners but for now let's focus on these three important ones:
- What we typically call sugar (the white powdery stuff) is sucrose. Sucrose is made up of half glucose and half fructose. Those two bond together to form sucrose.
- Glucose is the type of sugar that’s in your blood and can be used as fuel by any cell in the body. When you eat things that raise your blood sugar, it's raising the glucose levels in your body.
- Fructose is the sugar that most think of as harmless because it’s a more “natural” sugar. It’s not harmless.
Here is where the problem happens...
When you eat sucrose, the glucose portion goes directly into your bloodstream and is used by your body as energy, but because we consume far more than our bodies can handle, that energy is pushed into the cells by insulin and stored in the form of fat. The idea is for the body to use it later when times are lean but those lean times never come because we never go long without food - or sugar.
The fructose portion of sucrose goes directly to your liver to be metabolized. The liver converts it into triglycerides - which is also fat but a more dangerous kind of fat - and then stores it in your body as well. I won't get deep into the triglyceride side of things here but high triglycerides are a strong indicator of heart disease and raise your risk of a heart attack. You do not want high triglycerides.
Besides giving you high triglycerides, a high fructose diet can raise insulin levels, it can give you high blood sugar, and cause insulin resistance. All of these can lead to type 2 diabetes as well as many other health issues.
This is why it's so important to stay away from sugar as much as possible.
You're putting too much strain on your liver, you're filling your blood with sugar, you're increasing your triglyceride levels, you're causing your pancreas to send way too much insulin into your body, and you're storing all of that extra sugar as fat on your body. We can't possibly use all that energy as fuel when we're consuming so much. This means it has to be stored and that’s why we get fat.
What’s even crazier is that so many diseases have increased dramatically in our country since sugar first started being used in more and more foods, but so many still have no idea there’s a correlation. And even some doctors don’t see it! (Or they just don’t care because they’re making money off of sick people and getting perks from the pharmaceutical companies for prescribing medications for those illnesses. I sure hope this scenario is a very small minority though. )
So how do we fix this?
Look at the carb count of your food as you shop and make sure it’s low - and especially check the sugar count. Because SO MANY of the food items available in our stores today have been sweetened with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), we are consuming far too much fructose and glucose in our diet - more than our bodies can handle. If you read the labels you'll find tons of things sweetened by HFCS. According to Dr. Robert Lustig in the book Metabolical, 74% of foods in the grocery store contain added sugar. What?!? Seventy four percent!!! It is no wonder that we are facing such an epidemic of obesity and it’s no wonder so many struggle to lose weight. Unless we learn how to educate ourselves and learn about the food we are eating, we will not be able to beat this and live healthy lives.
And lest you think carbs are okay as long as it’s not “sugar” on the label, carbs = glucose once it’s in your body so total carbs matter. This is why a low carb diet is so important and not just a low sugar diet. One exception to the carb count - carbs in the form of fiber are fine - those aren't digestible by our bodies and actually are helpful when we eat so it's okay to have those and you can subtract those from the total carb count to get the net carbs. This is why vegetables are a great option even though most have carbs - they also have a lot of fiber so it’s a good food to eat and it’s full of healthy nutrients.
So how much is too much?
My max carbs I usually will allow is 5 or 6 carbs per meal so when I shop I mostly try to keep things to having no more than 1 to 2 net carbs per serving. Once you put those ingredients together in a meal it can add up quickly otherwise.
Bottom line - read the labels and eat real, whole foods as much as possible. Real food is unprocessed and not shoved full of chemicals and sugars that are bad for us. Real food also doesn’t make marketing claims on the package of being good for you, heart healthy, cholesterol lowering, fiber rich, or any of the other claims you see. If it goes out of the way to tell you that, it’s probably over processed and bad for you.
I hope this helps you stay strong on your plan to live a low carb or keto lifestyle and I hope you’re staying away from sugar. You could be changing the trajectory of your life and saving yourself from many deadly diseases by doing so!