Is Sugar Making You Fat?

Words by Adam Lewis

Sugar is certainly hot news right now, with questions like, ‘are you eating too much sugar?’ being asked by newspapers, television, and even the focus of the government’s ‘Change 4 Life’ campaign. To be honest, the answer is probably YES. We, as a modern population are definitely eating an increasing amount of sugar as we swap properly cooked meals for convenience snacks and grow a significant taste for the sweet stuff! But does sugar deserve to be the new public enemy for people seeking weight-loss?

To be clear, sugars (glucose, fructose and sucrose) are forms of carbohydrate, in fact the simplest form. Unlike more complex carbohydrates such as starches, foods high in sugar raise the blood sugar quickly after a meal and are called high glycemic index foods. But this doesn’t necessarily mean they are bad.

Over the last decade a number of studies have revealed that when it comes to weight loss, it doesn’t matter if you eat a high GI diet, a low GI diet or even a high fat diet. All will produce the same amount of weight loss (and improved insulin sensitivity) so long as your total daily calorie intake from everything you eat that day is below your needs. In other words, it’s less important what you cut back on, so long as you do cut back.

Often I hear people say, yes but fructose, a natural fruit sugar that is artificially added to many common foods, is the cause of our bulging waistlines. Well, last month a rather nice scientific study was published in the journal Atherosclerosis looking at whether eating more fructose actually caused higher fat levels. Unsurprisingly, and similar to the above results, they found that when people ate the right number of calories overall but replaced other carbohydrates for fructose, there was no change on the amount of fat circulating in the blood after meals. So fructose itself does not increase fat levels. However, whenever fructose provided the person with an excessive number of calories then fat levels did increase.

So while sugar itself is not the enemy and consuming some sugary foods, like fruit, will also provide you with vital nutrients, if they are what you are overeating on, then yes you should find ways of cutting back on unnecessary sugars to help you lose weight. Sugary foods tend be digested quickly, so look for low GI foods like whole grains rather than processed foods to fill you up for longer. Sweets and confectionary, fizzy drinks, ‘kids cereals’, crisps and cakes, are sugary culprits we can eat less of! But don’t forget to find alternatives to all the other things that might be causing you to overeat too, such as alcohol, high-fat foods, and even excessively large portions sizes.

So this month, why not see what changes you can make to ween yourself off sugar and lower your overall calorie intake? Best of luck.

Got a question? Ask a question about this article or any fitness problem you’d like Adam to cover in a future issue, email adam@sportfitco.com

Brief Bio: Local mobile fitness trainer Adam Lewis holds a degree in sport & exercise science, a masters degree in human & sports nutrition, is a strength & conditioning specialist and has been a certified personal trainer for over 10 years. www.SportFitCo.com