Sugar: Friend or Foe?

It’s almost that season again. Nope, not Thanksgiving. Not Christmas. It’s sugar season. The time of year when our break rooms are full of baked goods and when every mom and grandma is sending you home with that tin of goodies. Choosing between grandma’s cookies and a bowl of fruit shouldn’t leave you stressed out. We are here to help you navigate these tough times, so keep reading!

Grab a spoon, we’re digging in.

Do we really need sugar in our diet? Or is it the villain we have made it out to be? The answer can be complicated unfortunately. It is easy to be mislead by the latest and greatest fad diet information or nutritional marketing ads. Sitting down with a trained coach can make all the difference.

Weird Science…

Sugar is a carbohydrate.

Carbohydrates are chains of simple sugars and are the body’s main source of fuel. They are broken down and enter the bloodstream as glucose. Excess glucose is stored in the form of glycogen in the liver and, in limited quantities, the muscles.

Simple carbohydrates can be metabolized quickly and therefore provide the quickest source of energy. They include the various forms of sugar, such as sucrose (table sugar), fructose (fruit sugar), lactose (dairy sugar), and glucose (blood sugar).

Complex carbohydrates take longer for your body to metabolize them to provide energy. They include starch, glycogen, and cellulose, and are found in vegetables and unrefined whole grains. Complex carbohydrates are also excellent sources of fiber.

Fiber is a form of carbohydrate that our bodies cannot digest. It is not only important for health, but is a significant factor in weight loss.

Sugar, just isn’t as simple as sugar. There are many forms and it is important to understand each to make the right choices. Below are a few examples of various forms of sugar:

  • Glucose – breads, pastas
  • Fructose – fruits, honey
  • Sucrose (Glucose + Fructose) – table sugar
  • Maltose (Glucose + Glucose) – wheat, cornmeal, barley
  • Galactose – avocados, sugar beets
  • Lactose (Galactose + Glucose) – milk, yogurt, cheese

And there are many more. Pro Tip: Are you participating in a “No Sugar November” challenge? This list will be handy in assisting in selecting the correct foods.

And if that isn’t difficult enough, each of the above types is additionally ranked in a glycemic index. The glycemic index is a value assigned to foods based on how slowly or how quickly those foods cause increases in blood glucose levels. Simpler carbohydrates are higher in the index while the more complex carbohydrates are of a lower value. Ideally, we establish a healthy balance to support our daily energy needs. Consistency is the key!

But it tastes so good…..

So why can sugar be a problem? It, just like any other food that is highly palatable can lead to overeating. Sugar reacts with receptors on our tongue and tells our brain YUM YUM. Sugar tastes good to us because in nature sweet foods like fruits are often full of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients we need. It’s also important to understand that genetics play a role in how much sugar each of us desires and can tolerate. This is a function of our how our pancreas operates. So if you partake, remember to eat mindfully and in control. MIND OVER MATTER!

Don’t eat that! Eat This!

But if you are an individual with a sweet tooth and consuming more calories than you need, no worries as there are choices we can make to help get you closer to your goals. For example, try using a low calorie, sugar substitute in your drinks, recipes, etc. such as Stevia, sugar alcohols, or monk fruit sweetener.

The Villian?

Sugar gets a bad wrap. It has been tied directly to weight gain, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, etc. But sugar alone is not the culprit. Maintaining a healthy body weight and composition requires balance. Not only in the foods we eat, but in other areas of our lives. Factors such as genetics, overall poor nutrition, lack of physical activity, sleep, stress, lifestyle, social environment all play their role. Metabolic health is complex and specific to each individual that requires proper balancing.

But, I need help!

You’re in luck! We know a thing or two, because we’ve seen a thing or two and we are ready to help you slay the sugar dragon. With a dedicated Nutrition Coach on staff, we seek to understand the whole person and create nutritional guidelines that work specifically for that individual. No two people are alike nor should your diet plan be. Cookie cutter diets that are rigid and strict will eventually fail. Our goal is to develop habit changes that can last a lifetime.

Are you ready? Contact our Nutrition Coach today at kgibson79@twc.com to get started!

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