Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Sugar Low Down

by Kris Pitcher

You know how you feel when you over do it with the sugar? Well if you're like most people this time of year you've gone from marathon shopping to party hopping. All that festivity is usually laden with...sugar. Let's look at what happens in our body's the sugar low down.

When we eat, our body converts carbohydrates/sugar into blood sugar or glucose for energy. Our blood sugar level can effect how hungry or energetic we feel and determines whether we burn or store fat. Our pancreas creates the hormone insulin to transport the glucose from our blood and move it into our cells where it can be used. When we eat a bunch of sugar, or even what we'd consider "normal" amounts, the pancreas goes into overdrive to produce enough insulin to move all that glucose into our cells.

This surge causes too much glucose to be transported out of our blood, we crash, feel tired and hungry and we crave...sugar! It's a vicious cycle, and we are on the sugar train! All that sugar tells our body to shut down fat burning. It says, "We've got plenty of energy here, no need to burn that for later!"

Regulating our blood sugar is the most effective way to maintain our fat burning capacity. We can maintain our energy, prevent binging and maintain our metabolism. How? By eating frequently, beginning with breakfast. Meals of low fat protein, leafy greens and small amounts of complex carbohydrates spread throughout the day should be intermixed with snacks.

Watch out for hidden sugars. Read labels. Stay away from simple sugars like sucrose, fructose, lactose..."ose" ending words. Also, be on the watch for high fructose corn syrup, corn sugar, honey, molasses, agave, maltose, sorbitol...these are all sugars. We even need to be careful of artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners are hundreds of times sweeter than natural sugar. And it's thought that they have the same chemical insulin response in our body as when we eat sugar. This response leaves us wanting more sweet and sugary things and can lead to binging.

And check this out. Just 100 gms of sugar can depress the immune system for up to 5 hours, meaning the body's ability to fight off harmful things is depressed. Wow! So, after your workout class when you treated yourself to that Starbucks 16 oz. peppermint white chocolate mocha to get into the holiday spirit while you finished your also treated yourself to 470 calories and 78 gms of carbs. But you skipped breakfast right? Luckily you had that peanut butter balance bar in your giant purse. You polished that off with another 200 calories and 21 gms of carbs. Guess what? Your immune system is down for the next 5 hours with the 99 gms of sugar you just ate. Can you really say sugar isn't hurting you?

The last of the low down on sugar: when fat is taken out of a product - sugar is added in its place. Because of what you've just learned, I don't have to tell you this is a bad trade off. Make careful choices and make them having the knowledge about what's happening chemically.

It's not that you can't enjoy the season, just remember moderation.

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