Let’s talk SUGAR… and how it’s making you FAT!

sugar nutrition facts and sugar cane instagram

Today I wanted to talk a bit about sugar and how it’s making you fat. But first, check out the image above of the nutrition label of a very popular and “healthy” breakfast cereal, as well as a snapshot of sugar cane plants. I recently posted this on Instagram after a trip to the grocery store.

Now when you hear about going “low carb” what a lot of that means is cutting back on sugar. Sugar is a type of carbohydrate – a simple carbohydrate. And eating too much sugar (aka “simple carbs”) will make you fat. Why? Well, under normal circumstances, when sugar hits your digestive system, it immediately enters you blood and rapidly stimulates the release of insulin. Insulin then stimulates your cells to take up the sugar and use it. But in the case of excess sugar intake, the sugar gets stored in the liver in the form of glycogen. But the liver can hold only so much glycogen before it inflates like a balloon. And when the liver’s storage capacity gets maxed out, glycogen is expelled in the form of fatty acids that spill over into other organs and areas of the body- like your belly, hips and butt. And that’s how you get fat.

So what would be the simplest solution to the sugar/fat dilemma? To just watch sugar intake, right? Right! But in many cases that’s easier said than done. Because we as a nation are addicted to sugar, and sugar is crammed into so much of what we eat. Even in the stuff that’s deemed “healthy.” And when it comes to picking healthy foods that won’t send your blood sugar skyrocketing, some of you may have heard me talk about the glycemic index (GI). The GI is basically a scale that compares your blood glucose response to that of pure glucose. Glucose gets a GI rating of 100, and every carbohydrate containing food that gets tested is either equal to or lower than 100. The higher the food’s GI number, the higher the blood sugar response. And in case you didn’t know, glucose is part of sugar (the other part being fructose), and is the reason why sugar is so detrimental to weight loss.

That said, the sugar we tend to eat nowadays (like white table sugar) is nothing like pure sugar cane sugar. Yes, much of the sugar we eat started out as pure sugar cane before it was later processed into white sugar. Unprocessed sugar from sugar cane is pure and unrefined (looks tan/brown when it crystallizes). And pure sugar cane sugar also has vitamins, minerals and enzymes. On the other hand, refined sugar (i.e. white table sugar) is completely devoid of any nutrients. It has been stripped of all its nutrients during the refining process. So with refined sugar, you simply get something that has no nutrients, will spike your blood sugar, will make your insulin go haywire, and will eventually make you fat (or even diabetic).

OK, so now that you understand how refined sugar makes you fat, let’s turn our attention back to the box of cereal. And knowing what you now know about sugar and getting fat, do you think this particular cereal is something I’d eat every day for breakfast? Absolutely not! Why? Because of all that sugar! 18 grams of sugar per serving is a lot folks! In fact, that’s equivalent to gobbling down 9 Hershey’s Kisses per serving! Truth be told, I don’t even eat cereal because it doesn’t jive with my low carb lifestyle. Still yet, even if I did eat cereal, I would absolutely avoid regularly eating anything that has 18 grams sugar. For me, a more reasonable number would be no more than 5 grams of sugar per serving. But hey, that’s just me. I like being fit, and I like not having diabetes. And if you do too, then I’d def watch it with the sugar. Got it? Good! –  Doc