Nutrition & Dieting/Low Sugar Diet
Hello Mr. Santoro
I am trying to get on a diet in which I eliminate sugar to the furthest possible extent that I can. I think I have been doing the right thing for a long time now, as things like soda, candy, sugary cereals, ice cream, etc. have never been a major part of my diet, so those have not been a problem.
I am wondering about two other foods, one of which is fruit. I always hear that fructose is bad for you, yet I also hear that the fructose in fruit is okay because its natural, but isn't still fructose and still necessary to limit?
Also, peanut butter. I have moved to the natural kind because it does not have any added sugar and has only one gram per serving, as opposed to three with other brands that do have added sugar. However, the difference in sugar content (one gram opposed to three grams) does not seem that great, so am I really making a huge difference?
Thank you for your advice.
Great question. Personally I think that food manufacturers are obsessed with sugar.
Good job on trying to limit it. While it is impossible to totally eliminate sugar, small amounts are harmless and can even have benefits.
Your confusion about fruit is one a lot of people have. You have to understand that sugar is not all created equal. Different types of sugar are digested in different ways. Some sugars need to be processed by the liver. Sugars like dextrose skip the liver and are taken into the bloodstream immediately.
Fructose needs to go through the liver, it is converted to glucose which is a form of sugar your body is able to use. So that trip to the liver does prevent the huge blood sugar spike that you might get from a sugar like dextrose. The body is able to deal with a sustained rise in blood sugar and insulin. What is slowly created is utilized. Too fast a spike means there is excess, and excess in the body means storage, the way the body stores things is as fat.
The backfire to this is that if your glycogen stores are already topped off then that fructose turns into excess, and excess turns to...exactly.
So fructose can be a double edged sword.
Good times to eat it are in the morning because your body has been fasting all night. Glycogen stores are low and eating fruit can be a good sustained energy source.
same goes for pre workout when you will be using up your glycogen storage and need sustained energy.
The other thing to consider is fiber. Fruits like berries have a lot of fiber thus they slow digestion meaning a slower uptake of the sugars.
there are occasions that sugar, mainly dextrose are good. If you're a serious weight lifter then loading up on dextrose after your workout helps replenish muscle glycogen stores. Remember the dextrose absorbs immediately.
As for the peanut butter I applauded your switch to natural. The big brand stuff contains all kinds of unnecessary crap.
As you've said the difference in sugar content may be negligible. But consider what it amounts to. Say 1 Tbl contains 1 gram sugar. If you eat 1 Tbl each day thats 7 grams a week. Not bad. But at 3 grams per Tbl you're looking at 21 grams a week. It may be negligible day to day but adds up week to month etc.
And also check out the label. Where is the sugar from? Sadly most big name brands will add high fructose corn syrup, the same stuff in soft drinks. So 3 grams HFCS vs. 1 gram natural sugar is a huge difference. HFCS contains a host of nasty side effects. It is cheaper for them to use it but not too great for you.
I like to tell people if you must have sugar try to get it as clean as possible. Use real sugar or even better try raw sugar cane.
All that said keep an eye on your milk too. Lactose is milk sugar. A little milk here and there is ok. But try to get milk with 1% fat content. Skim milk is popular with dieters but its pretty much just sugar water. Fat also slows digestion. And studies have found a little fat from dairy can be beneficial.
And to close out my long narrative here, read everything on foof labels. Sugar hides everywhere. Read the ingredients, anything ending in OSE is sugar. They'll add sugar to the most unlikely things.
And avoid fat free foods, or should I say those that are not naturally fat free. Fat equals flavor. You take out fat and lose flavor, the solution is to add sugar to mask the loss of flavor. I also like how sugar based candy wrappers have the nerve to claim they're fat free like its healthy or something. Drain cleaner is fat free too but nobody is going to drink it.