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How often have you heard that you should cut back on your sugar intake or cut it out completely to get weight loss results? Besides many other extreme advice, one of today's bad guy seems to be the sugar. I'll discuss why you should ignore that advice an instead focus on the foundation of weight loss success in this article.
What is sugar?
Sugars are "essential structural components of living cells and source of energy in many organisms." In other words you can' just cut it out completely, because sugars are found in plants, dairy and in mostly everything we consume. They fall under carbohydrates, just like fibre and starch.
Some are naturally occurring sugars, like those found in vegetables and dairy products, and processed food will contain added sugar derived from a variety of plants. This latter may be closer to the devil, however the existence of it in itself is not the sole cause of weight gain.
Why do we need sugar?
Sugars play an important role in the human body, any source of food are broken down into glucose which then gets stored as glycogen. It's found in our DNA, sugar fuels our cells and also helps to store energy for later use.
If you think about it, plants convert sunlight into sugar in a very simple sense, our body converts sugar into fuel. The cycle of life.
Now, we already established a few times that there is no one-size-fit-all solution for weight loss. While some people's metabolism can handle a larger amount of sugar, whether naturally occurring or added, others may experience symptoms that indicate they should keep their sugar intake in control. For health reasons though, not in terms of weight management. We will get back to this at the end.
Why do we gain weight?
The foundations of weight management lies in energy balance. Meaning, if you are happy with your current weight, you should be consuming about the same amount of calories your body uses on a daily average.
This implies that weight gain happens, when you consume more than your body can use and the surplus will be stored. How it will be stored will depend on a few things; including your physical activity levels, types of workouts and your metabolism. Inactive people generally gain body fat.
Considering that humanity's lifestyle has become more and more sedentary, while the average calorie consumption increased in the past decades, the reason behind the obesity epidemic the whole world is experiencing today is pretty clear.
I have used Precision Nutrition's article and research data as a source for this blog and they collated studies where the researchers concluded that weight loss doesn't depend on the quality of the calories as much as the quantity of them.
The same applies for weight gain. You can eat the healthiest foods, but if you're eating more than your body uses, you will put on weight.
Is sugar good or bad then?
Both and neither. Some people can live off sugar, but so long their energy balance is right, they won't gain weight. Others may experience all sorts of health issues if their diet is high in sugar, especially added sugar that pushes their metabolism out of whack.
However, so long your body can handle sugar and you stick to an energy balance that's in line with your desired fitness goals, eat healthy meals 80% of the time, you definitely shouldn't feel guilty for having a cookie or a scoop of ice cream every now and then.
What's your favourite sweet snack or food? If you have questions on the topic, feel free to get in touch as usual.
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