Salt, sugar, and fat. Experts will bicker endlessly about which one is the worst of the bunch, and each has been blamed for everything from acne to cancer at one point or another. Decoding the reality from all the hype is hard work, but no matter which camp you fall into the truth is that you need each, but not too much. 

An Okotoks council member is hosting a week-long online summit to beat sugar addiction from March 5-11, so we wanted to revisit the claims around this polarizing ingredient. 

How Does Your Body Use Sugar?

It depends on the sugar. (We can hear you groaning. Stay with us!) Glucose is a simple carbohydrate the body breaks down for instant energy. Because it’s the primary source of energy for your cells, consuming glucose leads the pancreas to create insulin as it metabolizes your food, signaling to the brain that you’ve eaten enough. 

Fructose/sucrose, on the other hand, is metabolized through the liver, and more of it ends up as very low density lipoprotein (VLDL, or “bad cholesterol’). The brain doesn’t get told when you’re consuming fructose, so it doesn’t regulate hunger/thirst mechanisms when you have it. If you’re an athlete who is burning through their energy very quickly, fructose helps refill your stores faster, but that’s not most of us. 


What Happens To Excess Sugar?

If you were paying close attention in the last section, your ears may have perked up a couple of times. So sugar promotes insulin production; that sounds familiar, right? Insulin is what tells your cells there’s glucose available to store. If you have extra glucose than your cells need, it gets stored by the liver until your insulin levels drop, and then released to fuel your “fasting” body. 

Raising your bad cholesterol can lead to heart disease.But more importantly, the liver can only store so much sugar and then it gets converted into fat--but not the weight gain kind of fat, the “fatty liver disease” kind of fat. And if your body has too much sugar in its blood, it causes other problems, such as trouble circulating. 


How Does This Lead To Weight Gain?

Technically speaking, it doesn’t. The process by which your body regulates your blood sugar levels and uses it for energy is a finely-tuned one that has no bearing on your weight in most cases. However, chances are if you’re eating a lot of sugar, you’re not eating foods that provide nutrients, vitamins and minerals your body needs, or protein or fiber to fill you up. In either of those cases, your body’s appetite signals will continue sending, causing you to eat more. This overeating is what actually leads to weight gain. 


What About Diabetes?

We aren’t entirely sure why some people’s bodies reject insulin. What we do know is that diabetes doesn’t make you gain weight, weight gain can lead to diabetes by somehow causing insulin resistance. So the idea that sugar gives you diabetes comes from a lot of different truths (insulin regulates sugar and diabetes is an insulin problem, sugar contributes to obesity, obesity gives you diabetes) put together in perhaps skewed ways. That’s not to say sugar is healthy, as we saw above.

So what can we do about it?

Cut Back On Sugar

While we need sugar--in fact, your brain won’t run on anything else--we don’t need that much of it. If you want to cut back on sugar to help your health and potentially lose weight, here are some tips.

  • Drink water. Sugary sodas and drinks are full of fructose, which doesn’t signal the brain you’re consuming calories, making it easy to overindulge. Switching to water keeps your hydrated without taxing your liver or filling you with empty calories.
  • Avoid processed food. Most processed foods, even savory items, contain extra sugar. Items that are dubbed low-fat often use even more sugar to make up for the missing fat.
  • Eat fruit. Fruit contains fructose, but it’s combined with healthy fiber to keep you full and prevent overconsumption. Get your sweet fix naturally.
  • Cook your own meals. It’s the easiest way to know how much sugar you’re consuming. Restaurant food, like processed food, adds a lot of salt, sugar and fat to stimulate taste buds and keep you eating.
  • Out of sight, out of mind. Don’t bring sugary treats into the house and you’ll be much less likely to eat them!
  • Exercise. Exercise is key to keeping your metabolism working, which plays an important role in the whole process of sugar regulation.


Contact Us

If you’re worried about your sugar intake or increased weight putting you at risk of health conditions, please reach out for help. DreamBody offers nutrition planning and personalized workouts to get you on the right track to health and weight loss. Rach us by phone at 403-612-3538 or by using our online contact form below.

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