The truth about sugar and why you should consider cutting down on it

  • Mar 05, 2024
  • By Rikke Svartangen
  • 0 Comment

We now know that eating too much sugar wreaks havoc with our health.

But did you know that all carbohydrates eventually break down into sugar within the body?

It doesn't matter if it is chocolate, cans of soda, high-carb bread, or potatoes. It all becomes sugar.

And all sugar causes a spike in insulin and blood sugar; one of the contributing factors to diabetes, oxidative damage and inflammation. And no one wants that!

Let's talk about it...

What is the truth about sugar? 

Despite its sweet charm, sugar (sucrose) actually a bit of a villain in our diets, contributing to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Yes, the truth about the white stuff is not as sweet as you might think.

📝 You know, on average, an American adult consumes around 77 grams of sugar per day — that's roughly 60 pounds a year! And in the UK, we're not far behind! A government study found that the mean intake of carbohydrate and sugar as a percentage of their diet was 46% in adults.
💡Sadly, we have been tricked into thinking that sugar tastes good when added to our foods and drinks. But that bowl of Frosties cereal doesn't sounds so 'Grrrrrreeeat!' when it's leading you towards being obese and an early grave!

The effects of sugar extend beyond just satisfying your sweet tooth. Added sugars, which are found in many processed foods and drinks, can cause blood sugar levels to spike rapidly. This puts immense pressure on your body and can lead to chronic inflammation and increased frailty as we age.

And we will get to insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome in a bit… But we aren't just talking about sucrose hear, we are also talking about carbs in any form.

For decades we have been told to follow a high-carbohydrate and low-fat diet, however, recent research has shown that this way of eating actually increases the risk of both heart disease and diabetes. So now we have a population programmed to consume WAY too much sugar and carbs on a daily basis. Brilliant!

So all that nonsense about fat being bad for you was wrong all along, it's sugar and carbs which are the problem we face today.

💻 RELATED: Want to learn the truth about fat? Read our article 👉 The facts on fats: do fats really make us fat?

close up image of a white table filled with different variants of sugar

Do we really need sugar? Can you survive without sugar? 

Do you ever stop to think how many teaspoons of sugar are in that can of Coke? (It's 10 by the way. 10!)

That might surprise you. It might even shock you as it did me. Would you ever put 10 teaspoons of sugar in your tea? No, of course not. You aren't a fly!

So why has it become normal to drink cans of sugar-filled soft drinks and treacle-like fruit juice?

And here's why there is such a massive problem with the Western diet: Excessive sugar consumption can lead to weight gain and chronic diseases.

In fact, dietary guidelines recommend that only a small percentage of daily calories should come from sugars. Sugar-sweetened beverages and high-sugar foods have got to go if you want to adopt a healthy lifestyle.

As keto lovers, we cut sugar from our duets almost completely, with only 5% of our daily macro-nutritional intake coming from carbohydrates.

So no, your body doesn't need sugar. And you could probably survive for the rest of your live without ever consuming the sweet stuff again. 

Of course, that is a little extreme, and we aren't saying you SHOULD cut carbs 100%, but cutting any form of product with added sugar wouldn't kill you!

Even as a Keto Dieter, it's important to load up on healthy leafy greens and vegetables, which have low net carbs and won't spike insulin. These carb-rich vegetables are key to longevity and good health. They are not only ok to eat but should be treated completely differently to sugar-filled foods and starch-heavy, carby meals.

Did you know, that even with the complete removal of carbs and sugars from your diet, your body can actually convert protein to glucose when needed, a process called gluconeogenesis. How cool is that!

Why shouldn't humans eat sugar? 

Loading up your system with sugar is a slow and silent killer that can lead to all sorts of health problems. Here is a list of risk factors and issues related to excess sugar consumption:

The effects of sugar on general health

Sugar is high GI and GL leading to surges in insulin which stimulates the body to manufacture fat and at the same time stalls the fat-burning abilities. 

Fructose is actually no better, it has been shown to impair the body's ability to handle sugar and reduces the effectiveness of insulin and the onset of type 2 diabetes. 

Overconsumption of sugar can play havoc with every levels, creating energy dips during the daym followed by cravings for more sugar. 

Sugar suppresses the immune system and reduces our resistance to infections. 

Sugar can deplete the body of key nutrients (chromium and copper) and reduce the absorption of calcium and magnesium. 

Sugar can reduce the effectiveness of insulin in the body increasing the risk of elevated insulin levels and type 2 diabetes.

Sugar can lead to dental decay.

Consuming sugar may prevent you from maintaining a normal weight, which can increase the chances of cardiovascular disease and hypertension.

Wow! It's clear then that reducing our sugar intake isn't just a lifestyle choice; it's a critical step in preventing serious health complications down the road.

close up image of 6 doughnuts

Sugar and obesity

As mentioned above, the consumption of carbohydrates (in particular refined carbohydrates) increases both blood glucose and insulin levels. It isn't only refined white sugar that is bad, you need to understand that!

Here is the science behind it:

📝 Insulin helps glucose enter the body’s cells. Fat is stored in our bodies in the form of triglycerides (3 fatty acids and 1 glycerol molecule), fatty acids are absorbed from the bloodstream to make fat cells and are converted to triglycerides (fats in the blood), this conversion is controlled by the levels of another substance called alpha glycerol phosphate – now here is the trigger, this substance is produced when glucose is metabolised in the cell with the help of insulin.

Therefore the more glucose that gets into the cells the more fat cells will be produced and ultimately converted to triglycerides.

Insulin also inhibits the production of an enzyme called lipase which is responsible for fat metabolism.

After a carbohydrate-rich meal (pasta, jacket potato, fruit salad, sweets) the level of glucose in the bloodstream rises rapidly. This is in complete opposition to fats which do not raise blood glucose levels or insulin.

High blood glucose levels are dangerous, the more glucose that enters the bloodstream the more the pancreas produces and releases insulin to support the uptake of this glucose into the cells, here some of it is converted to glycogen which is stored in the liver and muscles and used for energy, the remainder is stored as body fat.

Following this, the levels of glucose in the blood then rapidly drop below normal, causing hunger pangs leading to snacking normally on more carbohydrate-rich foods–this is casually known as the blood sugar rollercoaster, something that is very common in modern-day Western dietary habits.

In the short term, this leads to an increase in body weight and fat, leading to adult obesity.

Over time this roller coaster then leads to what is known as insulin resistance as the cells have started to reject the constant flow of insulin into the bloodstream. Modern-day medicine refers to this as type 2 diabetes when the cells are not as sensitive and begin to resist the insulin.

Luckily, type-2 diabetes is completely reversible, and you can do it quite quickly when following the Keto Diet!

a purple table top with sugar cubes and wooden letters spelling out DIABETES

Are we really addicted to sugar?

While there's a popular notion that we're all seemingly hooked on sweetness, the concept of an actual addiction to sugar is much more complex. You may find yourself reaching for that extra cookie or corn syrup laden soda, but does it mean you're addicted?

Well, not necessarily.

Sugar, specifically added sugar found in processed food and drinks, can stimulate pleasure and reward pathways in our brains. That's good ol' dopamine!

💡This dopamine response is similar to how our bodies react to certain drugs. However, while consuming fructose-rich foods can trigger these pleasure signals and lead us into a cycle of craving and consumption, it doesn’t constitute addiction in the strictest sense.

The term 'addiction' implies dependence and withdrawal symptoms when the substance is removed. With sugar though, most people experience cravings rather than physiological withdrawal when they cut down their intake. It's all in the mind!

Yes, the carb cravings are real when you cut sugars from your diet. As Keto aficionados, we understand! The first few days can be tough.

💻 RELATED: To know how to overcome the first few days, read our article 👉 How Keto Works 

But we also know how much better things are when you beat that addiction to sweetened foods.

image of a healthy older man running outside, green woods in the background

So what's worse, fats or sugars?

While fats have been demonised in the past, research now shows that added sugar poses a bigger threat to our health.

The fact is, not all fats are bad for you. Actually, fats are amazing for you and a much cleaner source of energy for your body and brain!

Healthy fats, like those found in avocados and olive oil, are essential for your body's functions. They provide energy, support cell growth, and protect organs. However, trans fats found in processed foods can increase the risk of heart disease and should be avoided.

close up image of green table with olive oil, avocado and nuts

💻 RELATED: Want to learn more about the facts on fat and its effects on the body? Read 👉The facts on fats: do fats really make us fat?

On the other hand, excessive sugar intake has severe implications for your well-being. It can lead to obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and even certain types of cancer.

Moreover, a high-sugar diet often leads to nutrient deficiencies as sugary food products lack the vitamins and minerals necessary for our bodies.

The Western diet is notorious for its high levels of both unhealthy fats and added sugars. Thus it's crucial to read food labels carefully and make informed dietary decisions if you want to make a change to your healthy outlook.

Favourite brand of breakfast cereals? Check them for sugars and carbs.

🛒 SHOP: Or to be on the safe side, why not try our range of low-carb and keto cereals?

Like salad dressings? Check them as well.

There are hidden sugars everywhere!

🧑‍🍳 RECIPES: Or why not make your own? Check out our recipe library, with several options for low-carb and keto salad dressings and sauces?

 So what's worse - fats or sugars? 

It's a no-brainer. Given their impact on overall health and chronic disease development - sugars take the cake here! 

Sugar and the keto diet

Switching to a keto diet can definitely help you kick those sweet cravings to the curb, offering a doorway to better health and longevity. 

This low-carb, high-fat diet shifts your body into a state of ketosis, reducing your sugar intake and contributing to weight loss.

💡 Eliminating sugar from your diet leads to immediate health improvements like falling blood pressure and improved insulin levels. With ketosis usually kicking in within 3 - 5 days of starting a keto or low-carb diet, your body begins burning fat instead of relying on glucose for energy. 

This new source of fuel for your body and mind will make you feel so much better than you would while following a typical Western Diet. Your energy levels will go up, your sleep will improve, and your body shape will change for the better.

No doubt embarking on a keto journey requires commitment and mindfulness about what goes onto your plate. And it might be worth you checking in with friends, family, or even your GP before getting started.

But trust us, in the long term you will be happy to say goodbye to sugar, and hello to keto.

While you bid goodbye to pasta, rice, potatoes, or foods with high sugar content; unprocessed meats, seafood, and fish become welcome additions. If you keep up this diligence in choosing the right options to fuel your body, you will witness the transformation unfold!

🛒 SHOP: Or why not try our low-carb pasta, low-carb bread, or low-carb ready meals, that are all low in carb and sugar!

image of our low-carb bread with text "bread" image of our low carb pasta with the text pasta image of one of our ready meals with the text "ready meals" 

Finally... On the truth about sugar

Sugar really has been overused in supermarket products over the past few decades, leading to a pandemic of obesity and diabetes. Hopefully, you are more aware of the importance of cutting back on sugar now. Here's a recap: 

✅ Excessive added sugar intake can contribute to obesity, diabetes and heart disease. 

✅ The problem arises when your blood sugar level spike due to excessive consumption of added sugar and carbs. These are found in many processed foods and beverages as they enhance sweetness and texture. Sugar-sweetened drinks are the largest source of added sugar in our diet. Starchy carbs are converted to sugars when not needed for energy. 

✅ Cutting back on sugar and carb consumption is important for weight loss and overall health. The Keto Diet is perfect for recalibrating eating habits, and will get you on your way to better health and a smaller waist in no time!

So what can you do? 

Read labels carefully, opt for products with low sugar and carbs per serving and be mindful of portion sizes. Be proactive about your diet choices and think ahead. 

And give the Keto or a Low-Carb diet a try! It might change your life! 

illustration showing the author of the article, Suzie Walker and her credentials


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