By now, you’ll be aware of the dangers that sugar spikes pose to weight-loss from the wrong types of food. Namely, your body, your pancreas to be exact, secrets insulin to bring blood sugar levels down as they start to rise.
That’s bad as insulin represses your fat-burning hormones, which is one of the reasons type 1 diabetics often struggle with their weight.
It’s bad enough being at the mercy of your body’s efforts to curb weight-loss, let alone having to inject insulin yourself.
But secondly, and perhaps more importantly, whilst simple sugar isn’t a fat that is stored for fuel by your body per se, as your body finds simple sugar so easy to break down, it will always opt to burn the sweeties, milk, lucozade, bread or pasta for fuel first.
Simple sugars are a lot easier to extract fuel from than fat, complex carbs or protein. Rather than expending energy it could otherwise hold on to to break down those other substances, your body thinks it’s doing you a favour by retaining the other fuel sources and flaming up the sugar.
And your body’s really good at that, holding onto energy. This is one of the reasons starvation diets, or diets that lack at least one of the main food groups, just don’t work long term.
We’ve gone through so much hardship as a species to get where we are. Storing food in lean times is ingrained into our body’s DNA.
If we’ve starved ourselves, our body will use only the littlest amount of fuel necessary to keep us going when we do eventually eat and store the rest for fuel for the next lean time.
And, yes, that means your fat glands will be topped up should there be the slightest excess from your food intake over and above the immediate requirement. See why starvation diets don’t work long-term? Good. Glad you follow.
Nail the sugar problem once and for all.
Let’s drill down into the differences between fructose (bad) and glucose (not so bad, as sugar goes).
There’s a segment of our brain that issues signals telling us we’re either desirous of food – bloody starvin’, in other words – or that rewards us for feeding ourselves properly – i.e.tells us we’re stuffed.
The clever old boffins over at Yale – the university in the US, not the key makers in Willenhall – have detected that these signals differ depending upon whether the sugar we’ve consumed is fructose or glucose.
Think of that little sensor in the brain as a switch, if you would. What the scientists at Yale did was take a group of young people with no weight issues and feed them both type of ‘ose’ sugars, fruct- and gluc-, when they were hungry.
The subjects were having their blood-flow monitored – through MRI scans – in both instances. And the results were quite different.
When consuming the food that contained glucose sugars, the hungry switch was turned off, or at least noticeably suppressed, according to endocrinologist Robert Sherwin, who was in charge of proceedings at Yale.
In contrast, when the starving young mites were given fructose-based products, there was no change whatsoever in the brain activity being monitored through the MRI.
When Oregon Health & Science University assessed the results independently, yet another endocrinologist, Jonathan Purnell confirmed there was definitely a strong link between the brain’s reaction to the two different types of sugars and weight control.
Whilst Purnell in no way lay the blame of obesity solely at the feet of fructose, he did call it a ‘bad actor’ compared to its counterpart, glucose.
So the message really is both conclusive and clear. Yes, we have to eat natural sugars – our brain, if nothing else, would simply not function without them. But we can improve our chances of controlling our hunger by choosing the right sugars to consume.
You can find fructose in most products – from fruit juice and a lot of natural fruit itself, to carbonated beverages (especially carbonated beverages), to corn syrup.
While there is an equally exhaustive list of glucose products, too, it’s perhaps not so appealing. No shock, there – it’s better for you, after all.
But that’s the reason so many of the foods on the glucose list also appear in any list of superfoods you find whereas not so many on the fructose list do.
If you do succumb to needing a sugar rush – it’s only human – have a handful of something containing glucose rather than fructose to stave off hunger that little while longer. Capice?