Eating too much refined sugar leads to weight gain. For years we’ve been told that eating fat makes us fat. And it is convincing that fat we eat = fat in the body, but that’s not exactly how the body works. Now I’m not saying gorge on fats because eating too much fat has its own inherent health issues. Yet, we do need some healthy fats in our diet. You don’t need to fear all fats.
If dietary fat was the cause of the current obesity epidemic it would’ve been solved back in the 1980s with the whole low-fat craze. Right? Wrong! Instead, we’ve gained even more weight in the last 30 years. According to recent Statistics Canada reports, almost two-thirds of Canadian adults are overweight or obese (Statistics Canada, 2014). That’s staggering to say the least! How is this possible? A major factor is the increasing amount of added sugars in packaged foods and beverages (even those labelled as “healthy”, like energy bars and flavoured yogurt). This started in the 1980s when food manufacturers took out the fat from their products and substituted it with sugar to make the products palatable. Even though the low-fat obsession has now passed, we’ve developed a sugar habit.
Crash Course on How Excess Sugar Causes Weight Gain
First, all calories we ingest don’t have the same impact on our weight and metabolism. Counting calories doesn’t work because it’s the type of calorie versus the number of calories consumed that matters. For example, there are more calories in half an avocado versus a Tim Hortons Timbit. Nonetheless, eating Timbits on a regular basis will have more of an effect on your waistline compared to eating more avocadoes.
Refined sugars are empty calories because they provide little or no nutritional value. When we consume these “free” sugars, they enter the bloodstream fast because it doesn’t take much for the body to break them down into their constituent glucose and fructose molecules. This causes a spike in our blood sugar levels, which then causes insulin levels to rise. If the sugar is not quickly used for energy (and with the amounts of sugar we can consume in one serving of some packaged foods and beverages it’s almost impossible to do so), insulin removes it from our bloodstream. The liver can then store it as glycogen for later energy use or it gets converted into triglycerides in the liver if the glycogen stores are full. These triglycerides can then be stored as body fat.
With overconsumption of added sugars over an extended period of time, the glycogen stores remain constantly full. You simple can’t burn it all off fast enough. Inevitably, all that extra sugar turns into body fat.
Bottom line is…
You may be overwhelmed by this or are still in doubt about how much sugar is too much. With so much information out there and conflicting reports on the subject any confusion is understandable. Bottom line is less sugar is better for everyone. All major health authorities agree on this point at least. So, you don’t have to be overweight to experience the health benefits of reducing your sugar intake. Don’t take my word for it, try it out for yourself to see. I’m here to support you in resetting your sugar-addled taste buds if you need it (click to book a personal nutritional coaching session or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org). Also, with my grocery store shop-along service, I can guide you on how to navigate the supermarket aisles in order to steer clear of the many products that needlessly contain sugar (including certain mustard products!).
There’s also a neat infographic by Dr. Mark Hyman from the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine showing why sugar is the real culprit behind weight gain. Check it out here: https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2016/02/sugar-vs-fat-which-is-worse-for-weight-gain/
Also, I highly recommend the book The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes. It is a well-researched book that investigates why sugar (sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup) is the prime suspect in both the diabetes and obesity epidemics in North America.
I’d love to know what you think about this post. Share your comments below!
Senate of Canada. March 2016. “Obesity in Canada: A Whole-of-Society Approach for a Healthier Canada.” Report of the Standing Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology. <http://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2016/sen/yc17-0/YC17-0-421-2-eng.pdf>.
Statistics Canada. 2014. "Overweight and Obese Adults (Self-Reported)." Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 82-625-X. Ottawa, Ontario. Last updated November 27, 2015. Accessed July 5, 2017.