What is the right way to incorporate sugar into your diet?

Sugar - one of the most common types of additives in food, adds a pleasant sweetness to a meal but, unfortunately, can have severe adverse effects on the body.  

When talking about sugar, it’s important to distinguish between the two types, “unrefined” and “processed.” Unrefined sugar refers to whole foods that contain sugar like fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes that still hold their nutrients. However, processed sugar is in foods including white bread, soda, candy, crackers and typically any product labeled “fat-free.”

The more processed sugar you eat, the greater the release of insulin from the pancreas. That's because the primary role of insulin is to return blood-sugar levels to normal. However, when blood-sugar levels viciously spike, your body pumps a massive amount of insulin into the bloodstream. This increase causes an imbalance, making blood-sugar levels bottom out, which triggers appetite. This can leave you craving more instead of feeling satisfied - ultimately causing overeating.  

Having unrefined sugar now and then won’t do serious harm, but if you consume it regularly, over time, your pancreases will begin to waver, ultimately threatening its ability to produce insulin.

So what is the right way to incorporate sugar into your daily diet?

The key is sticking to moderation. Especially if you’re working out consistently, sugar can be used as fuel. After a workout, blood sugar tends to be low, leaving you feeling tired and hungry. Incorporating just the right amount of unrefined sugars will boost insulin to a healthy level that propels amino acids, the building blocks of muscle.

According to the American Heart Association the maximum amount of added sugar you should eat in a day are:

  • Men: 150 calories per day (36 grams or 9 teaspoons)
  • Women: 100 calories per day (25 grams or 6 teaspoons)

The best way to limit your daily sugar consumption is to avoid processed foods and satisfy your sweet tooth with fruits instead. Everybody is different, so sometimes it takes some experimentation to find the right amount for you but the best rule of thumb: the less you eat, the healthier you’ll be.

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