Sugar Part 3: Practical Applications

Halloween is right around the corner.  Are you likely to eat more simple or complex carbohydrates?

Of course, as you know from yesterday’s post about sugar digestion and absorption, simple sugars are rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and are either used for fuel or stored in the liver and/or fat tissue.  Let’s pretend you go to town on the candy corn and ingest two handfuls of the stuff.  Your blood will be loaded with glucose almost instantly since there is zero protein, fat or fiber in candy corn to slow down absorption.  These are what we call “empty calories,” because they provide absolutely no nutrition to the body.

Ingesting loads of simple sugar might put a dent in your hips, but it will enhance exercise performance, which is why we offer Propel Waters in the gym – a small amount of sugar during a workout is utilized by the muscle and can optimize energy during a tough workout.  Post-exercise, simple sugars shuttle the use of dietary proteins for muscle recovery.

That said, too much simple sugar throughout the day will hinder concentration and any weight loss goals.  For this reason, the majority of your carbohydrate intake should come from complex carbohydrates or naturally occurring sugars from fruits and milk products, versus processed or refined (maple, table sugar, cane, high fructose corn syrup).  This is because complex carbs take a whole lot longer to digest and absorb.

But there is also another a reason why we want most of our carb intake to come from complex over simple.  Complex carbs not only have fiber to help move food quickly through your colon, they also help reduce the risk of colon cancer, diabetes, heart disease and gastrointestinal (GI) disorders.

There are many strategies that you can start today in order to learn more about simple and complex sugars and how to incorporate them into your diet. Here are some ideas:

  1. Begin to read a food label and point out the sugar ingredients. Example: a cup of yogurt has high fructose corn syrup and an oatmeal cup has whole grain rolled oats.  Which one has the simple sugar? If you guessed yogurt, you’re right.
  2. Start to reduce or avoid ingesting empty calories from sugar. Example: If your goal is weight loss, having more than 40 grams of added sugar is an easy way to keep those pounds!
  3. Start the morning with complex carbs.  One idea is to have a cup of oatmeal and add some fruit, to taste.
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