Truth About Sugar

Imagine this scenario: You've spent the past year slowly changing your lifestyle. Month after month, you began removing chocolate donuts for breakfast and deep dish pizzas for dinner. You haven't sat in the drive-thru line in months, and you switched out soda for fruit juices. It wasn't easy, but you wanted a healthy change. Now, here you are, a whole year later, and you've only lost a few pounds.

So, what happened? Sugar.

We all know that sugar isn't great for you. It's the reason some of us dread going to the dentist, and most of us have experienced “sugar crashes" that seem to sap our bodies of energy. Unfortunately, the truth about sugar goes deeper than what you may already know, and it could be affecting many different aspects of your life.

Sugar is everywhere.Truth About Sugar 1

To fully understand the truth about sugar and its effects on your body, it's important to understand exactly what it is. For better or for worse, sugar is a lot more common than you may think. It's not just the obvious candy and cookies that are coated with it; even the most organic of fruits can hold up to 25 grams of sugar.

If you're reading a food's ingredients and come across a word that ends with the suffix “-ose", you can bet it's a sugar. Some of the more common include glucose (a product of photosynthesis that our own bodies can naturally produce on occasion), fructose (the remarkably sweet sugars found in fruits and honey), and lactose (typically found in dairy products, though some adults lack the enzyme needed to handle this type of sugar, hence lactose intolerance). However, sometimes food companies disguise their sugars by listing them under different names. Nectars, crystals, sweeteners, concentrates, and syrups all fall under the “sugar" umbrella.

If you're going through your pantry right now, you'll probably notice that a majority of your foods include these ingredients, even foods you may have assumed were healthier choices. For example, anything that's labeled “Fat Free" is typically packed with sugars. Same with most fruit smoothies, granola bars, and even raisins.

Is it that bad?

Okay, so your entire kitchen is filled with sugary foods. How bad can that be?

There are two ways your body can react to sugars: it can either be burned for energy (which explains sugar rushes), or it can be stored for fat. How your body will handle the sugars you intake completely depends on your genetics and metabolism. That being said, there's a process your body goes through when you eat a large amount of sugar, and this process favors storing the sugars as fat.

When you ingest a large quantity of sugar, your pancreas releases insulin to regulate the sugar in your blood. The insulin also determines which sugars to store in your muscles and which to store as fat. However, the more rapidly you put sugar into your body, the more the pancreas struggles to release the right amounts of insulin. Too much insulin results in blood sugar levels dropping tremendously. This leads to what we call “sugar crashes," which is our body's way of saying “I want more sugar!"

So, naturally, that's what we give it.

Unfortunately, the more often this process takes place, the more severe the blood sugar spike is, and the more insulin is required. This means that, overtime, it becomes easier for your body to skip using sugar as energy, instead simply storing it all as fat.

This can lead to a sugar addiction. Yes, one can become legitimately addicted to sugar. In fact, it is the number one cause of addiction in the United States.

How much is too much?Truth About Sugar 2

When most people first read this information, they want to quickly give up on sugars altogether. While that's not a terribly realistic goal, there are ways of monitoring your sugar intake, starting with the fact that some sugars are actually pretty healthy for you.

There's a reason sugar rushes exist; simple sugars like glucose are carbohydrates that your body relies on as its primary source of energy. Going back to the fact that sugar is addictive, the most important thing to keep in mind is intake control. As long as you're aware and monitoring how much sugar is in the different foods you're consuming, along with balancing those sugars with proteins and vitamins, you'll be fine. However, the more processed your foods, the more unhealthy insulin-spiking level of sugars they'll contain.

Kicking the habit.

The truth about sugar limitation is that it can be a daunting task, especially if you've already unknowingly become addicted. Fortunately, we have a few tricks to help you kick this teeth-rotting habit.

The most obvious and realistic piece of advice is to replace sugars with sugar substitutes. While most of these alternatives are just as bad as the real deal, there are a select few that aren't nearly as bad. Honey, for instance, is known for being rich in minerals, resulting in a sugar that causes significantly fewer insulin spikes. Another decent alternative is Stevia, a sugar that comes from sunflowers. Consumed in smaller quantities due to the fact that it's 300 times sweeter than your typical table sugar, Stevia is known to have a smaller effect on blood levels.

Being able to control the amount of sugar you eat is another option. If you don't want to give up on coffee, for example, try asking for it black and adding your own sugar instead of ordering an insulin-spiking latte. Instead of making a trip through the drive-thru, cook up a meal at home so you can determine how much sugar is going into your food. To make such a task easier and less time-consuming, 6 Pack Fitness offers a variety of healthy meals that can be delivered right to your door. From paleo and vegetarian to meals specifically designed to be rich with healthy carbohydrates, there are plenty of low-sugar or sugar-free options to choose from.

Like quitting any addiction, the process can be slow and tedious, but is always worth it. As long as you're aware of the fact that you consume sugars out of habit, it's a matter of setting rules for yourself and slowly waning yourself off the stuff.

The truth exposed.

The truth about sugar is a complicated one. It's actively unhealthy for you, unless you're consuming the correct amount. Your body needs it for energy, but it's also the number one cause of unhealthy lifestyles. It's in everything from pancakes to pineapples, and can either be stored in your muscles or broken down into fats. Quality control, awareness of the different types of sugars, and curbing your cravings will allow you to make the absolute most of these curious carbs. Be sure to pack some simple sugars – fruits, nuts, yogurt – along with proteins and vegetables in your meal management bag from 6 Pack Bags.