Sweet, sweet sugar. It's addictive, delicious, and absolutely terrible for your body. Unfortunately, there really is no other way to slice it. Over time, I've given you guys lots of great advice and pointers for your own journeys, but in this blog post, I really want to dig deep into the reason why sugar will always be the ultimate death knell for your weight loss and fitness strategy.
Over the past several decades, sugar has become quite a common ingredient found in all types of foods. No, sugar isn't just found in your average Zinger or Ding Dong; you can safely bet that sugar can found in practically everything you eat. In fact, it's virtually impossible to avoid it, but you have a great amount of control over how much of it you consume – if you know how to look for it.
Before you can understand why you should avoid sugar like the plague, I'll help you understand how your body processes it.
How Our Bodies Process Sugar
You've just eaten a meal that contains sugar; what happens next? When sugar is consumed, it eventually makes its way to the blood stream. Your pancreas notices that your body is in the throes of a sugar rush, and like clockwork, it releases insulin to regulate the excess sugar.
The amount of insulin released is proportionate to how much sugar is present in the blood. Therefore, a higher amount of insulin is released if there happens to be a lot of sugar in your blood stream. The insulin works to store the glucose in your muscles and liver as "glycogen." Likewise, the insulin also begins storing the glucose in fat cells.
This process is often extremely unbalanced, especially in cases where sugar is entering the body at an extremely rapid rate. In this case, the pancreas releases too much insulin, causing the body's blood sugar to dip much lower than normal levels.
When this happens, the body experiences a sugar crash. The body's natural response is to crave more sugar, and from there, the process inevitably restarts. It's an incredibly vicious cycle, and it is a huge culprit behind weight gain.
How to Spot Sugar in Foods
Now you're probably thinking, "So, I'll just cut back on my sugar intake." While this is a step in the right direction, the problem is that food companies know the general public is learning to avoid sugar. This is why they're starting to disguise sugar with various new names in the ingredients portion. Common names include agave nectar, corn syrup/sweetener, dextrose, fructose, maltose, molasses, sucrose, syrup, and more.
Sugar is even found in substitutes that promise "healthy alternatives." In my experience, sugar alternatives usually contain hidden forms of sugar, or there isn't enough research available to know exactly what's in the product. My advice is to just avoid these types health gimmicks altogether.
As far as developing a plan of action for avoiding sugar, it's always good to aim for real foods when grocery shopping. In essence, if a food product has a commercial, it's likely bad for you. Stay up on the current trends in sugar and its related pseudonyms, and keep your intake at a strict minimum. Substitute that sweet tooth with some fruit or a homemade smoothie. Cutting your sugar intake will significantly boost your fitness journey!