The Sugar Story- When to take What


There has been endless debate on and around sugar and am sure that if you have got your info from listening to television or browsing thru net, you must be really hopelessly confused.

If you eat too little of this white powder called sugar, you are devoid of the much needed energy boost, especially during your workouts and if you end up eating too much ,then you gain weight. So, it all zeroes down to figuring out what kinds of sugar to eat and when, so that you have the energy to perform well and are also able to maintain good health.


Understanding the sweet science

Let us all be clear on one simple fact that all sugars are carbohydrates, better known as simple carbs, composed of single glucose molecules. All our grains (cereals), fruits, vegetables, pulses, sweets, processed foods like breads, cookies, biscuit, colas are source of carbohydrate in our diet, though the difference lies in their being simple or complex carbs. The more processed and the more refined a product, the more deprived would it be of its nutritional properties. For instance one gram of a biscuit would provide 4 calories whilst one gram of orange will provide about 0.2 calorie as the bulk of its weight is water and fiber.

Although sugar is lower in total calories per gram than fat (one gram of carbohydrate provides 4 calories in comparison to 9 calories provided by a gram of fat), excessive intake is more likely to give you a fatter figure. We might not be eating too much of table sugar but often end up consuming them hidden in processed and refined foods, hence an increased calorie consumption and weight gain.


Insulin is a hormone released from our pancreas in response to elevated blood sugar levels. The more highly processed sugar you eat, the greater the release of insulin from the pancreas to return blood-sugar levels to normal. When you eat a high glycemic index food (foods which raise your blood sugar levels rapidly such as white rice and white sugar), the blood-sugar levels jump violently and your body pumps a massive amount of insulin into the bloodstream. This causes a sudden reduction in your blood-sugar levels, which in turn triggers appetite, leading to a vicious cycle of overeating. In fact, sugar is often compared to a drug rather than a nutrient in the way it can leave you craving for more instead of leaving you satisfied.


Studies have shown that years of eating processed food and experiencing the constant pumping of insulin into the blood stream can actually exhaust your pancreas’ ability to produce insulin, putting you at risk for diabetes .Another condition, known as insulin resistance, can also develop, where your body gets accustomed to insulin surges and the hormone loses its power or develops resistance to reduce levels of blood sugar, thus leading to weight and heart problems.


Each one of us react differently to sugar, but regardless of one’s metabolism, paying strict attention to the following guidelines will surely keep your health better..


  1. Restrict intake of  Refined Sugars

Since refined sugar and processed foods are caloric ally dense and lack nutrients and fiber, their intake in excess would not be good for your health. Try to restrict the intake of maida based products such as biscuits, pizza, white breads and switch to complex carbohydrates for energy.

2. Go for Unrefined Sugars

Unrefined sugars are found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes and should make up the bulk of the carbs you eat every day. These foods are fiber dense and nutrient rich, so help to maintain stable blood sugar levels and hence to maintain weight.


3. Add on Sugar for Peak Performance

Despite its drawbacks, sugar is essential for tough workouts as it serves as a source of glucose and also helps to rebuild and restore your glycogen stores This is necessary for enhanced athletic performance and improved muscular strength. With an inadequate amount of glucose in your system, you will be left feeling lethargic during workouts and shall be unable to train effectively. You may have a light snack such as a fruit half an hour before workouts and then replenish your glucose stores by having a juice (fruit or vegetable) or a wheat sandwich(with egg whites or sprouts) after your training session.


4. Avoid Overdoing It

Just because you work out doesn’t mean you can eat bowls of caramelized cereal and cans of sweetened fruit juices for breakfast. Your body still has a limited storage capacity for glucose, and excess sugars will most definitely, be stored as body fat. So, include unrefined sugar sources such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains to trim down, while avoiding chocolates, soda and other processed foods and that too after your workouts and not before.


5. Go light on the Sweeteners-


In the zeal to cut calories, quite a few resort to artificial sweeteners and actually end up having 8-10 sweetener sachets per day. Though there have been researches to prove that the sweeteners are safe and do not adversely affect your blood sugar and insulin levels, its better to maintain moderation.


6. Indulge in Natural Sugar


Natural sugar sources would be dates, honey, fruits, blackstrap molasses, jaggery, etc but remember, although unrefined and better than refined ones, these sources do pack in high calories and can be detrimental to your overall health, if taken in excess. Hence, again moderation is the key.


The above solutions may sound too familiar and deceptively simple, but follow them religiously and you shall be able to pamper your sweet tooth without any guilt pangs.

Go ahead and indulge!


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