Sugar addiction is keeping you from your weight/fitness goals

There has been a lot of coverage in the media about the negative effects of sugar in the diet. Sugar intake has increased in the U.S. diet and is a direct correlation of increased rates of obesity and diabetes. You can find it in everything from breads and cereals, to salad dressings and condiments. Although certain types of sugars have a more direct effect on blood sugar (table sugar vs. fruit-in its natural state), too much of it will result in weight gain, increase LDL (bad cholesterol) and poor liver function. In addition to the fact that sugar is addictive, it’s also important to acknowledge that it increases the release of leptin which directly results in weight gain.

Although moderate use of naturally occurring sugars is ok, the use of corn syrup, even in moderate use can increase your risk for heart disease, obesity, cancer, dementia and liver failure. Although sugar in any form is still sugar, the science behind corn syrup is different in terms of the way it is digested. Corn syrup is a chemically altered sugar derived from the stalks of corn and consist of a ratio of fructose and glucose that is unbound. Since the two molecules are unbound, it is undigested and the fructose goes directly to the liver creating lipogenesis which increases the triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood. Thus it has a direct impact on the increased risk for the diseases listed above. Since the corn industry is largely government subsidized it is a cheap sweetener and found in many products on the shelves of your local supermarket. Read your food labels (its in things you wouldn’t expect such as bread, ketchup, salad dressing, etc.), and avoid products that contain corn syrup at all cost. Given the information provided, its safe to say that products containing corn syrup should be completely eliminated from your diet.

Table sugars and those occurring naturally contain bound molecules and are digested with the foods they are added to or are a part of. Once they have been broken down they are taken up into the bloodstream, so they do  not have the same dangers as corn syrup. However, it is still sugar and should be used sparingly as it will impact your waistline and increase your risk for obesity and all related diseases when consumed in abundance. Whenever possible, combine foods containing natural sugars with others that contain healthy fats and/or protein. The combination of one or all of the healthy macronutrients will slow the uptake of sugar into your bloodstream, thus keeping your blood sugar steady and keeping you satiated longer. Remember that many sources of fructose also are a natural source of fiber, such as apples, berries and avocado, which slow that sugar uptake naturally. It doesn’t hurt to combine these fruits with low-fat yogurt or natural nut butter to increase the nutrient value and improve its benefits. Whenever possible, reach for sweeteners found in their natural form, such as real maple syrup, honey, agave and raw sugar used in moderation. Baking alternatives may also include banana and applesauce.

Now that you have the scoop on the different sugars that are out there, let’s look at how they can be affecting your weight loss and fitness goals. Sugars such as sucralose (table sugar) are made of both glucose and fructose. Glucose is an essential part of your nutrition and your body produces it naturally, giving all of your cells energy through conversion to glycogen. Fructose, upon digestion heads straight to the liver and is converted to fat, which can be used for energy or stored. In moderation you will burn this energy, but in abundance it does get stored and results in weight gain. Excessive fructose consumption also contributes to insulin resistance. Since insulin is a primary hormone responsible for regulating your metabolism through transport of glucose to the cells that need energy, if there is too much sugar in the blood your insulin levels will remain elevated, thus resulting in a diabetic response.

The bottom line is, our body does need some sugar in small amounts, however too much will result in metabolic imbalance that can contribute to your risk for chronic disease.


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