Sugar is broken down into glucose and sucrose which is easily absorbed in the blood and sent to our cells to be used for energy so we can talk, think, be active and function well! Without any sugar we would be lethargic, tired and aggravated. So where do we go wrong?? Why is there soo much hype about sugar? Research shows, sugary foods consumed in EXCESS is toxic to our body. The excess will be converted from sugar to bad fats by the liver. The recommended maximum dose of sugar is about 10% of calories (thus this will change how active you are) however it roughly works out to being 2tb of sugar a day for women and 3tb for men. Most people do not stick to this portion size throughout the day or have it all in one sitting. This is the main correlation between sugar and weight gain/adverse health effects.
The sugar we really need to watch out for is fructose – the one that is derived from Corn syrup. Fructose, unlike glucose does not release insulin from the pancreas. Insulin is important as it transports the sugar into the cell to be used for energy. If there is not enough insulin available, the extra sugar will be converted by the liver and stored as fat. Meaning there is a greater pressure placed on the organ if it is continually placed under stress. So when you are looking at the back of any packet if you see the word high fructose corn syrup or some kind of fructose in it, I would avoid the product like the plague!!
I thought it would be a good idea to break down all the different types of sugar so you know what are the best options, because there are just so many! I have been confused before about what is the best to consume and writing this today has helped me, so hopefully it will help you also!
- Agave Sugar is high very high fructose, depending upon the brand can range from 56-92% of fructose!! This is 33% sweeter than sugar. Even though it may be consumed in a smaller portion to table sugar, it does not mean it is better for you!!
- Barley Malt Syrup – not a bad option, it is about half as sweet as table sugar. Dried barley grains are dried quickly and then cooked down until they are form the syrup. It is not processed as much as other products.
- Brown sugar is just normal refined sugar but with molasses added back into it to give it the colour.
- Coconut Sugar – probably one of the better options because it has a low glycemic level, which means it will not give you an energy spike and bring you crashing down within an hour or crave something else sweeter later. Not only this unlike normal sugar it actually has a number of micronutrients added. Woo!
- Date sugar – derived from dates and very high in fructose I would limit these to 1 maybe 2
- Pure fructose – not derived from corn syrup is our natural fruit sugar which occurs naturally in honey, dried fruits, grapes, apples etc. Still only consume these in a small amount such as once a day.
- Fruit Juice – no point!! Just avoid!! It is all fructose. Most juices have more sugar than soft drink!
- Lactose – our milk sugar which is 20% as sweet as sugar – a really good option. However a number of people struggle to digest this sugar, choosing lactose free dairy products is always a good option.
- Maple Syrup – the pure option is barely processed and again has a very good source of vitamins and minerals included – a great option!
- Rapadura/Jaggery/palm sugar – a good option also, it is made up good sugars, and proteins and fibres!
- Stevia – is a good option also –It is 300 times sweeter than sugar and as a result you only really need a drop or two to get the taste you need. However, I find has a very bitter aftertaste! I am not a fan of this one.
- Sucrose is the chemical name for granulated white table sugar which can be produced from either sugar cane or sugar beets. It is broken down during digestion into a mixture of 50% fructose and 50% glucose. Each molecule of sucrose eaten means a molecule of glucose goes straight to the blood and one of fructose goes straight to the liver. Sulfur dioxide is added before evaporation to bleach the sugar.
So the best types of sugar to go for are
Barley Malt Syrup
However they should still be only consumed in small portions – remember (except for the stevia) they all contain roughly the same amount of calories and are sugar. Consume in Moderation, you do not have to completely remove every type of sugar from your diet, it more about education of what the best options are and not going crazy on the portion size. Or if you do want to have those types of sugars, place it around training. The body will absorb and use the sugars for fuel faster than what It would if it was consumed away from exercise and be stored as fat.
I hope this has helped you decide what the best options for you are!