Fat, low-fat, low carb…the list of obesity villains goes on and on. There has always been a great debate as to what causes obesity and illness in America to be ranked number one on the obesity scale among countries. However, a new villain has been named in society today, Sugar! Yes, you might think, well of course sugar isn’t the greatest for you, but do you know how bad it is and why?
New initiatives against the Sugar culprit have sprung up all over America, and is being labeled as public enemy No. 1.
Why Is Sugar So Bad?
Sugar is known to decay your teeth, add unwanted pounds, and even cause serious illnesses. However, there is more to this story, Carbohydrates take the form of either sugars or starches (“complex carbohydrates”); but, a starch is simply a long chain of sugar molecules strung together, so they both end up as the same thing once they enter your blood stream (the only difference is that you need digestive enzymes to break up a starch). Most carbohydrates break down to approximately half glucose and half fructose (let’s ignore fiber and some of the other less common monosaccharides, for now). Glucose is then directly used by your cells for energy, whereas fructose must first be converted into glucose or fat by your liver. Did you hear that, sugar gets converted into fat?
Before we move on, I want to be clear. We know all sugars aren’t bad. Let me say that carbohydrates, specifically glucose, are critical for life. Glucose is energy and your cells need energy to live. The real issue is the amount of sugar in most of our diets. Sugar should be consumed from clean sources, like fruits, and in moderation. The average amount of sugar consumed in Western diet is often in excess of 300g per day!
This high sugar intake is what is a direct cause of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity seen in the last three decades. Take this great analogy from Paleo Mom.
“Think of the analogy of alcohol: a glass of red wine a day can help prevent cardiovascular disease, stroke and even Alzheimer’s disease; whereas a 24oz bottle of scotch a day will destroy your liver and then kill you. You might think this is a drastic example, but it’s actually a very apt analogy since your liver processes ethanol in a very similar way to fructose. In fact, high fructose intake causes fatty liver disease, which is the precursor to cirrhosis.”
This is a great example of how important moderation and dose is when it comes to sugar. The most widely known recent measure surrounding sugar is the approved New York beverage ban, which bars the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks. However, we there are speculation that larger bans and initiatives are coming to sooner than later.
Exercise, Athlete’s, and Sugar…
There is a lot of debate about athlete’s intake of sugar, however we recommend no sugar prior to working out, instead opt for your fruit post workout. Here are some tips for your pre and post workout meals:
- Eat 1-2 hours before
- Eat a small amount of protein
- Eat a small amount of fat
- No Veggies or Fruit Prior to workout
- Eat within 15-30 mins of exercise
- Make your meal and bring it with you
- Eat a meal sized protein that’s easy to digest, like egg whites, chicken, or salmon
- Eat a fist sized portion of a carb dense vegetable, like yams, sweet potatoes, or squash
- A piece of fruit is ok as long as you eat it with a veggie
- No fats, this should be the only time you don’t eat a fat in a meal
Coming Soon to a Store Near You: Regulations on Sugar
While the FDA has recommended daily allowances for sodium and fat, it has no such measure for sugar. The Center for Science in the Public Interest last month filed a petition asking the agency to address the issue by establishing a recommended safe level of added sugars, particularly in beverages. The American Heart Association advises that women consume no more than six teaspoons of added sugars per day and men no more than nine. CSPI said the average 20-ounce bottle of soda contains nearly 16 teaspoons of added sugars.