Sugar

Oct 15, 2021

What is sugar? Sugars basically fall under the macronutrient “carbohydrate”. Which can be a bit confusing. Most of us think of “sugar” as the white stuff we put in coffee, tea, or that we use to bake sweets and treats. We don’t think of the “white stuff” (sugar) being a carbohydrate.  However, there is much more sugar in processed and refined foods than in unrefined or whole foods. 

Sugars are a type of carbohydrate, but not all carbohydrates are sugars. And not all carbohydrates do the exact same things in our bodies. Some carbohydrates break down quickly and easily into sugars while others do not. Sugars, starches and fiber are all carbohydrates. Sugar is considered a simple carbohydrate while starches and fiber are considered complex. Most carbohydrates are broken down into simpler sugars once they’re digested. Sugar, which is considered a simple carbohydrate, digests more quickly while starches and fiber digest more slowly. 

Why do we crave sugar?

We crave sugar because of the “pleasurable” feeling it gives us! The neurotransmitter Dopamine, in particular, is released when we eat sugar and gives us that feeling of being rewarded and leaving us wanting more sugar. But you must take note that there is much more sugar in processed and refined foods than in whole or unrefined foods. Each person reacts to sugar differently and some of us like more sugar than others. While others can only tolerate it in small doses This could be genetic or familial. In the past sugar tasted good to hunter-gatherers, because in nature, sweet foods like fruits were full of good stuff like vitamins, minerals, and energy. Whereas today, most crave the refined and processed sugars.

Is there a link between sugar and obesity?

Increased sugar consumption correlates with the rise in obesity. Sugar is energy dense and can be easily overeaten because it’s highly palatable. And it’s generally paired with a trans-fat in processed foods, leading some to not be able to stop eating it thus leading to overconsumption. And this leads to increased weight gain. As above, each person’s response is different, whether its behavioral (habit) or physiological (such as inflammation). We likely eat more than we realize because it is hidden everywhere! Granola, yogurt, cereal, pasta sauces, salad dressings, etc. These foods can be easily overeaten because of our brain’s response to them. Think about it like this, four apples have about the same amount of sugar as a can of coke. Could you eat all 4 apples? In the end, it’s all about Energy Balance and the more you take in the more weight you are going to gain.

How do you resist cravings?

Remember, sugar works in a different way in each of our bodies. It can put you on a blood sugar roller coaster and cause chronic inflammation, lead to rashes, poor sleep and lowered energy. The best option is to start swapping out the foods you love with more nutrient dense or whole food items. This will take time, but it will be more sustainable in the end. 

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