Are All Sweeteners Bad For You?
Sugar is undoubtedly delicious, and easily addictive. Overeating the wrong types of sugar can lead to health problems, such as weight gain, heart health, and skin problems. Luckily, you don’t have to constantly feel bad for feeding your sweet tooth because not all sweeteners are the same. It’s time you learn what sugar actually is and what makes a sweetener unhealthy. Not only will you be able to select the right type of sweetener, but you will discover how to use sugar to enhance your health.
What Makes Up Sugar?
Beyond that sweet-tasting goodness, what really is sugar? These soluble carbohydrates come in three forms: sucrose, glucose, and fructose. Sucrose is table sugar, which consists of glucose and fructose. You can find glucose and fructose sugars in fruits, veggies, grains, dairy products, and a range of other processed foods. All three forms of sugar are in foods naturally; however, each has a different chemical structure, and the body digests each differently as well. Furthermore, besides the three natural sugars, refined and processed sugars are now in everyday foods — and they’re anything but natural.
Is Sugar Good Or Bad?
Overeating sugar, especially from processed sources, can have adverse health effects like metabolic issues and acne. If you are mindful about consuming natural forms of sugar and do so in moderation, sugar can help lead you towards a balanced diet.
Which sweetener is best for you if you skip straight sugar for your coffee and use artificial sugar? It depends on the original source of sugar how the sugar was processed into the sweetener. You will have to know more about the glycemic index, fructose to glucose ratio, and its health effects.
How Can You Tell If A Sweetener Is Healthy Or Not?
Natural whole foods contain a combination of glucose and fructose — both monosaccharides, which are the building blocks of carbs. These two sugars are also in processed foods, but they come in isolated, refined forms such as high-fructose corn syrup. This highly concentrated form of fructose from corn is very unhealthy compared to fresh fruit or starchy vegetables. Consuming it means you’re simply consuming calories without any real nutritional value. Because high-fructose corn syrup doesn’t exist naturally, it leads to many health problems, including cholesterol and blood sugar issues.
A healthy sweetener is a piece of fruit, starchy vegetable, or whole grain still in its natural form. The further it becomes from its source, the more the phytonutrients break down. After these natural minerals are no longer intact, the sugar becomes unhealthy. Although you still get that sweet buzz you crave, the vitamins and minerals are also essential nutrients, and they support your immune system, convert food into energy, and help cells stay healthy. Some healthy types of sweeteners include: fruit, stevia, real honey, coconut sugar, maple syrup, lucuma, and black strap molasses.
Eat Sugar In Moderation
If you remember one thing about sugar, let it be this: moderation is key. And that goes for anything you consume. Skip those yo-yo diets that only follow disproportionate rules for all-or-nothing eating. Trying an anti-sugar diet or no-carb fad could lead to a binge. Instead of being extreme, incorporate small amounts of healthy sugar depending on your lifestyle. Remember, if you follow a strict workout regime or are more active in general, you will need more sugar. Why? Because you deplete your glycogen store faster when you exercise.
The American Heart Association suggests the following recommendation for sugar:
For women, they suggest under 100 calories per day or 20 grams (about six teaspoons); for men, under 150 calories per day or 36 grams (about nine teaspoons).
Pay attention if you experience extreme sugar cravings or a boost of energy followed by intense fatigue. Is your skin reacting, or do you have more weight gain? You need to find your sweet spot. Testing your blood sugar regularly with a glucose monitor at home can help. Another option is to visit your doctor to request a check of your fasting glucose, HbA1c, and other metabolic markers.
Use Sugar To Restore Glycogen After Exercise
Glycogen is a form of glucose that is found in your liver and muscles. As the day goes on, you use this stored energy, which depletes even faster during more active workouts. After losing it, you can become fatigued, especially during exercise. Consuming sugar is a quick way to restore your glycogen levels, and that goes double for eating high GI food like a watermelon after exercising. Restoring the glycogen in your muscles after exercise means you can move a bit faster than consuming lower GI food. Try to incorporate sweeteners as part of your post-exercise routine, and you will improve your workout by reaping the benefits of sugar.
Incorporate Sugar To Create Diet Variations
You can balance your carbohydrate consumption through the various sugars you eat — and when you eat it. Women can follow a low-carb menu but then eat more carbohydrates during the week of their cycle since the female body can metabolize glucose more efficiently during this time. Another way to vary your diet with sugar is to eat seasonal fruits and starchy veggies throughout the year.
The next time you consume something sweet, ask yourself: Is this a natural form of sugar? If you don’t know the direct source, it is probably processed. When you are mindful about your sugar consumption and in moderation with your sweet tooth, you can use sugar to enhance your health.