What is sugar?
Sugar is a carbohydrate. If it ends in a “ose,” it’s gonna be a sugar. If that’s all you’d like to know, feel free to move onto the next section, as I’m about to get all Mr. Wizard up in here.There are different kinds of sugar, starting with simple sugars (called monosaccarides) like glucose, fructose, and galactose. Then there are also more complex forms (called disaccharides) like sucrose, maltose, and lactose.
Here’s the cheat sheet to naturally occurring sugars:
1. Let’s start with glucose: It occurs naturally in plants and fruits, and is a byproduct of photosynthesis. In our bodies glucose can be burned as energy or converted into glycogen (essentially: liver and muscle fuel). Our bodies can actually produce glucose when needed.
2. Next, fructose! This is fruit sugar, occurring naturally in…you guessed it, fruit! It also occurs naturally in cane sugar and honey, and is incredibly sweet in weight loss vacation.
3. Onto the more complex sugars, starting with Sucrose. This sugar is found in the stems of sugar cane, the roots of sugar beet, and can be found naturally alongside glucose in certain fruits and other plants.
4. Last but not least, we have lactose, which is essentially milk sugar! This is something that is created as result of a process happening in our bodies: children possess the enzyme necessary to break down the molecule into lactose to be used by the body, while some adults don’t. These are the lactose intolerant folks.
So, we have a few key types of sugar. But where does sugar actually come from? It is USUALLY created as a result of the processing of one of two types of plants: sugar beets or sugar cane. These plants are harvested, processed, and refined to eventually resemble the white sugar you’ve come to know and love (or loathe). This sugar has absolutely no nutritional value: it’s just pure, refined, sugar.
What does sugar do to your body?
Sugar is the lifeblood of the cavity creeps! Beyond that, your body processes sugar in a very specific way. When you consume sugar, your body has two options on how to deal with it in weight loss vacation:
1. Burn it for energy. WEEEEE!
2. Convert to fat and store it in your fat cells. BOOOOO!
Depending on your genetic predisposition, your body might be better equipped to process sugar as energy, or you might be more likely to store it as fat. Think of this like you think of people with faster metabolisms vs. people with slower metabolisms. Problem is, there’s a LOT more room for fat storage, and a lot less room to burn the sugar as energy.
So, we have this sugar in our body and blood stream. What happens next? When your pancreas detects a rush of sugar, it releases a hormone called insulin to deal with all of that excess sugar. Insulin helps regulate that level of sugar in our blood; the more sugar in the blood stream, the more insulin is released. Insulin helps store all of this glucose in the liver and muscles as glycogen and in fat cells (aka adipocytes stored as triglycerides). Now, oftentimes our body struggles to get that balance right (with us putting way too much sugar in our system very quickly). TOO much insulin is released, which ultimately results in our blood sugar dropping below normal levels.
This is called hypoglycemia, essentially a sugar crash: Our bodies respond by telling us: WE WANT SUGAR!
So we cram sugar down our throats and the process starts again. Unfortunately, the more often this process takes place (the more sugar you consume), the more severe the blood sugar spike is, and the more insulin is required. This means it becomes easier and easier to skip using sugar as energy, and go straight to extra insulin and fat storage.
Examples of good Sugar:
3. Agave Nectar
7. Whole Wheat Bread
8. MOST fruits
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Live in Fitness!!