The Skinny on Sugar: Sugar is not the enemy, excess calories are...

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"Sugar is bad because it can only be stored as body fat"

This is what we have been led to believe by the media these days and although the argument that sugary foods are bad and unhealthy is true at the holistic level, when it comes to body composition it’s just another fitness myth.

Sugar is a carbohydrate and like any other carbohydrate, it is worth a mere 4 calories per gram, the same amount as protein.

When it comes to body composition or the art of fat loss and muscle gain, we know that on a basic level we can work off ‘calories in vs calories out’, while your macronutrient (protein/carb/fat) split is what will fine tune things for you.

So, if you are struggling to lose fat or tighten up that midsection and you are blaming your love of sugary foods, it may just be a case of not knowing your numbers. I’ll start by saying in clear black and white that you can still eat foods high in sugar or fat and reduce your body fat…

You need to know your numbers…

How many calories do you need to consume daily to achieve your body composition goals?

What is the ideal macronutrient percentage needed to make up these calories and achieve this goal?

How do some of the foods that you enjoy that are higher in sugar fit into these numbers while keeping your health and performance goals in mind?

Wait, if you don’t know your numbers then stop right here and go figure that out before continuing because ‘If you can’t manage it, you can’t measure it’ right?'
We have detailed the what, why and how of calculating your macronutrient intake many times in prior blogs.
Now that we have established the principle let’s have a look at what the actual problem with sugar is…

So, as you may or may not know when you eat foods that are high in sugar, your pancreas secretes high amounts of insulin (leading to insulin spike) which causes blood sugar levels to rise. This isn’t the end of the world but what it does is to make you crave and want more of whatever delicious sugary treat you have just scoffed down. To further compound issues, these types of foods have little essential nutrient and don’t ever seem to fill you up or satisfy your hunger.

“So then what happens?”

Well, you will keep eating and eating, won’t you? Until you completely blow your daily calorie intake out of the water and then store body fat.

Ok so what’s the solution, I can’t just go cold turkey and give it up completely?!”

You don’t have to give it up, we don’t want you to and it’s an unrealistic expectation to think that you will never have sugar again in your life. But what you can do is to be smarter about it and once you know your numbers, you then have the power to include sugary foods into your daily nutrition & lifestyle plan while still eating wholesome foods 80-90% of the time.

We highly recommend you eat something like this daily, to help reduce cravings and limit your urges to rebel and blow out. The chances are very high that if you give up your favourite treats and go cold turkey, you’ll wake up one morning after a sugar induced food coma surrounded by a sea of chocolate and lolly wrappers. Shortly after remorse, regret will follow, you’ll restrict the following week again and the cycle will continue.

Obviously you don't want to go overboard and prioritise sugary treats in your daily diet plan as you will soon feel pretty lethargic and be low on energy which will negatively impact your health and performance. However, you can literally still 'have your cake and eat it too' if you know your numbers so you can enjoy the best of both worlds - results without restriction.

“When is the best time to eat these types of foods?”

Well there isn’t really a right or wrong time to be honest but if you had to pick , I would opt for your post-workout meal. This is when you can combine the fast acting and easily absorbed sugary food with a protein shake to aid nutrient absorption to enhance your recovery.

So, sugar isn’t the enemy, you just need to learn how to incorporate it into your daily lifestyle so you can enjoy it guilt free by knowing your numbers and working out your macronutrient intake.

Any food class or macronutrient taken in excess will end up being stored as body fat so that sugary treat is just as lethal as your usual chicken and broccoli if your diet isn’t measured and managed.

If you need a hand with your nutrition or want to learn how to manage your numbers, hit the take action button below to get in touch:

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