Is Natural Sugar Bad For You?
I’m sure you’ve heard the debate that natural sugar is better than refined sugar, and wondered whether it’s actually true. Is natural sugar bad for you? Should you restrict your fruit intake?
Well, what if I told you that when broken down in the body, ALL sugar either is already glucose or gets converted into glucose. Does that add to the confusion?
Carbohydrates are broken down into sugar. This means pasta, bananas and chocolate all end up as glucose in the end. There are 3 basic sugar molecules, glucose – the one we know, fructose – the one most commonly associated with fruit, and galactose – a sugar that isn’t really heard of.
The single sugar molecules can also combine together to form different sugars but we’re going to keep it simple for this blog. Trust me, chemistry isn’t my thing either!
The rate of absorption
Foods which typically contain a lot of glucose get absorbed faster as the sugar is already in the body’s preferred form and it doesn’t need to do any extra work to break it down. The rapid absorption results in the rise of your blood sugar levels, giving you a huge amount of energy. This sounds okay but they also leave you with a massive crash in energy shortly afterwards. You may have heard the term “High GI”. This is basically what that term is referring to. High GI foods raise your blood sugar levels very fast.
The sugars that require conversion into glucose will provide energy over a longer period of time. This isn’t the only factor that makes a food low GI but most fruits and vegetables containing natural sugar are low GI. Because these sugars take longer to be absorbed, they are considered healthier options as they do not raise blood sugar levels.
The sugars contained in fruit and vegetables are also encased in fibre. The fibre prolongs the breakdown and absorption process even more. Fibre can’t actually be broken down by the digestive system so it doesn’t contribute any calories. It is however very good for your gut health and can help to lower the risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
The fibre also results in the food being lower in calories. This explains why it’s recommended to have more natural, whole foods when trying to change your body composition. Whether you’re trying to lose body fat or gain lean muscle mass, consuming foods high in fibre will help you in reaching your goals. Regardless of how much sugar they contain. These foods keep you fuller for longer while being lower in calories. So, you can essentially eat more of them and avoid feeling hungry shortly after without exceeding your caloric intake.
In addition to this, the high GI foods that are also high in refined sugar are generally foods that are higher in calories, and in some cases fat, which may lead to weight gain if the energy in is more than energy out.
Foods with the naturally occurring sugars, such as fruit, are normally packed with vitamins and minerals. These are needed by your body to maintain optimal health. You receive a far greater benefit from something like a banana than you would if you ate a couple cookies. The banana will give you sustained energy, keep you full, provide you with health benefits and a large number of nutrients. While the cookies will raise your blood sugar very fast and give you nothing but calories and constant snacking as you won’t be satisfied.
Now you know why natural sugar is considered better than refined sugar. Sugar isn’t bad for you as long as it’s not the wrong sugar. And although weight loss comes down to calories in vs calories out, HEALTH is about so much more.
If you want some more in-depth information on not only sugar but all 3 macronutrients, you can download your free Basic Nutrition Guide here: NUTRITION: THE BASICS
If you have any thoughts or questions, leave them in the comments section and I will get back to you!