By now (I hope) you’re starting to learn that sugar is what makes you fat. Dietary fat – the fat you eat – doesn’t make you fat. What confuses most people is that many natural sugars are touted as being healthy, and that there are so many artificial sweeteners proposing to be a better alternative to natural sugars. Let’s break it down to a few points to help you understand different sugars and sweeteners, and their effect on your body.
1. Both natural sugars and artificial sweeteners can elicit weight gain or inhibit weight loss
Even if sweeteners have no calories? Yes. Research has shown that any sweet taste induces the release of insulin, and too much insulin is one of the leading causes of excess weight gain.
Eat carbs/sugar/sweeteners -> Insulin is released -> Insulin is a storage hormone that moves glucose to cells -> If cells are full, insulin stores the glucose as fat
So you opt for a sweetener instead of a natural sugar thinking that you won’t store fat, but you were wrong. If it’s sweet your body will release insulin. Insulin signals storage. And you get fat.
2. Natural sweeteners will always be a better choice than something made in a lab or factory
It’s important to know which natural sugars are okay to use, and which chemical sweeteners to avoid.
If you are going to have something sweet, have something from nature. Don’t be fooled by the marketing hype that makes you think that you will live better through chemistry.
Natural sweeteners are not necessarily ‘healthy.’ (Remember, anything sweet causes the release of insulin). Our bodies can metabolise natural sweeteners, while chemical sweeteners are recognised as toxins in our system. Toxins may be stored as fat. So not only does the elevated levels of insulin encourage the body to store more, but you’re also storing toxins as fat!
Use in moderation and organic where possible:
Real maple syrup
Dates, or date sugar
Freshly squeezed fruit juice
Green leaf stevia
NEVER use these chemical sweeteners:
Stevia when it’s white or bleached
3. It’s ALWAYS better to limit your intake of any kind of sweetener
To achieve and maintain a healthy body composition and support your activity levels, you need to limit the consumption of sweet things – natural or not. Use these guidelines to help you, and to ensure that you don’t get suckered in to having sugar.
- Read the nutrient labels of products.
- Check for the total carbohydrates, and just under that you will find how much sugar it contains. 5g of sugar = 1 tablespoon.
- If an ingredient ends in “ose” or “tol” – it’s a sweetener. For example, sucralose, fructose, dextrose, lactose, sorbitol.
- The words sugar, nectar, syrup and crystal indicate that it’s a sugar.
- By law, food labels have to list ingredients in order of proportion. Items atop the list therefore make up the bulk of that product. If a sweetener is listed in the first few ingredients, avoid the product!