We’ve been taught that sugar is our worst enemy for a long time now, but is it actually true? Let’s look at the truth about sugar and weight loss.
Important Facts About Sugar
1. Sugar = energy. We use sugar as fuel for our bodies.
2. There are three types of sugar we get from our food. Monosaccharides, oligosaccharides and polysaccharides. Glucose, fructose and galactose belong to the monosaccharides group.
3. Carbs are sugar. All the carbs you consume contain one of the three types of sugar, and our bodies convert them to glucose. So, even the veggies, whole grains, rice, potatoes and fruit contain sugar, just like candy and cakes.
What’s the difference between carbs in, say, brown rice, and those in a bag of Skittles? The answer is – not much. Both carbs are converted by the body into glucose. The difference lies in the rate at which this conversion happens.
You’re probably familiar with the glycemic index – the scale that measures how quickly a certain food gets converted into glucose. Followers of this index believe that the rate of conversion is what really matters for losing fat because of the relationship with insulin.
Insulin allows your body to use the sugar from carbs for energy. It also stores excess sugar as fat. Because lower glycemic foods stabilize insulin levels, it’s thought that high GI foods will make your insulin rise quickly and cause weight gain.
The problem is, there have been thousands of studies done on dieting over the years, and each one says basically the same thing: calorie balance, not insulin balance is the primary source of weight loss.
If Sugar Doesn’t Make us Fat, Then What Does?
In a nutshell, eating too many calories and not burning enough off makes us fat, not a particular type of food.
You could eat only chocolate or cake and still lose weight, even though it wouldn’t be a healthy way to do it! There are plenty of studies out there that prove this:
• Scientists at Duke University found that thee was no difference in weight loss across subjects who ate either 4% or 43% of their calories from sugar, when total calorie intakes were matched.
• A professor at Kansas State University did a 10-week experiment on himself. He lost a huge 27 pounds eating nothing but Twinkies and other packaged foods.
• You can even eat McDonalds every day and lose weight. High school science teacher, John Cisna, lost 56 pounds and lowered his cholesterol eating nothing but McDonalds fast food every day for six months.
The fact is, when it comes to losing weight, all you need to do is consistently eat fewer calories than you burn, but it doesn’t matter if you get those calories from donuts and potato chips or kale smoothies and quinoa. Control your calories and you will lose weight. (Please note that I’m not suggesting eating only junk food, only that you can eat it and still lose weight!)
Why Does Sugar Get Such a Bad Press?
There are a couple of reasons that sugar isn’t recommended as part of a healthy lifestyle. Studies have shown that people who eat a lot of sugar tend to be overweight and have more health problems related to their diet. Along with the rise in sugar consumption in the last 100 years, our overall calorie consumption has risen steeply too.
The second reason is that sugar is nutritionally empty. It contains no beneficial nutrients, and most people who eat a lot of sugar also tend to eat fewer fruits, veggies and other whole foods that provide vitamins, minerals and fiber. So our excess sugar consumption isn’t benefiting us nutritionally.
Some Things Matter More Than Sugar Intake
So, you can eat sugar and lose weight – but should you?
If you decide to rush off and try the McDonalds diet, or only eat chocolate bars, you’re storing up problems for yourself!
Your diet will lack all the vitamins and minerals you need to stay in peak health, and you’ll end up stressed and lethargic, which will make it harder to lose weight. If you only eat chocolate, you won’t get enough protein, which will lead to muscle loss and weakness.
If you follow the following pointers for weight loss, you won’t have to worry about how much sugar you’re eating:
1. Track your food intake to ensure you are eating fewer calories than you need to maintain your weight. 2. Eat plenty of protein to help build and keep lean muscle while dieting. 3. Eat most of your calories in the form of nutrient rich, unprocessed foods, such as nuts, fruits, vegetables, grains, lean meat etc. This means you can eat the remaining 10-20% of your calories from anything you like, such as ice cream or candy.