Sugar! Is it bad for you?

There has been a lot in the media about the effects of sugar on the body. Most of the coverage around sugar has been negative, with many individuals and companies claiming that cutting sugar out of your diet has many health benefits. Many gym goers and “fitness freaks” may have tried diets where they try and reduce sugar intake from the diet.

What is sugar?
Sugar is a carbohydrate. It can come in two forms monosaccharides (tend to be found in fruit, rice etc) and  disaccarides (tend to found in granulated sugar, milk etc). Both of these tend to still get digested in a very similar way.

What is fast releasing and slow releasing sugar?
Fibre helps regulate your digestive system and will also help keep your blood sugar regulated. Blood sugar can be raised very quickly when high levels of sugar are consumed without much fibre. E.g. coca-cola and chocolate bars (These tend to contain very high levels of sugar, even if there was fibre in the diet they are likely to still rapidly increase blood sugar). Consuming high amounts of sugar with a low amount of fibre is likely to cause our levels of sugar in the blood to increase rapidly. This puts a lot of strain on our pancreas that produces insulin, this is produced to escort sugar to your muscles/organs. If too much sugar is consumed then the extra energy will get stored as fat to be used at a later date. Increased fibre and starchy foods e.g. sweet potato, brown rice (even white rice is ok) etc will release sugar more slowly into the blood stream and therefore put less stress on your pancreas. It is less likely that sugar will be stored as fat if it is released into the blood stream over a longer period of time. However if you are in a calorie surplus then you will store it as fat ans are likely to still be consuming too much sugar.

Is sugar bad for you?
In my personal opinion, sugar is not bad for us if we have it in moderation. However, when we intake too much sugar we are essentially in taking a lot energy and if we intake too much energy we do not need, we store fat. This then leads to a greater chance of many diseases. When choosing your food, look to consume less than 6g of sugar per 100g of food. However, it depends on what we are consuming, we know fruit is high in sugars (fructose). Eating fruit isn’t likely to have a detrimental effect on your health, as long as its not consumed in huge portions. It’s often the high amount of calories that we tend to consume with high amounts of sugar especially through fizzy drinks, chocolate bars, sweets etc.

Can you totally cut sugar from your diet?
Most likely the answer is NO. You would have a very, very, very restrictive diet if you were totally cut sugar from your diet. Many foods contain sugar even in low amounts. Even foods high in protein and fats can contain small amounts of sugar. One of my personal favourites I hear at least once a month is “I never eat sugar, I have totally cut if from my diet”. I am 99.999999999999999999% sure that every person will still be consuming sugar, even in small amounts. Also consuming extremely low amounts of sugar is not healthy.

When is sugar good to consume?
Sugar is a fantastic energy source. Sport athletes will consume a good amount sugar on a daily basis. They will consume sugar as an energy source to keep up with the demands of training. Otherwise they would “burn out” quickly. Also a good time to intake sugar is after training. You need to replenish your muscles with sugar as you have used whilst training.

So, we need sugar in the diet as we use it as energy. Most of us do intake too much sugar and this will have a damaging effect on the body. Reducing sugar is great for most of us, especially individuals with sedentary lifestyles. However, sugar is a natural energy source (in most cases) and without it our training and general life might have a negative affect without it. Moderation is key and the odd treat every 7-10 days is more than likely to be perfectly fine.