As we near the finish line on the current Whole Life Challenge, many of us are ready to take a break from the stringent rules to which we have been committed. While we hope that all participants take some lasting changes away from this challenge, we understand and condone the desire to relax the rules a little bit. The biggest and perhaps most beneficial change revolves around eliminating sugar from our diets. I know you have all heard me rail on this in the past, as it is a hot button and perhaps the single most valuable change you can make with regards to nutrition. Today, Coach Amanda breaks down some common misconceptions around processed carbohydrates and sugar.
Now the hard part here is defining what qualifies as sugar. There are the easy ones like table sugar and high fructose corn syrup, but what about honey and fruit juice? And the news is even worse...those carbohydrates in potato chips and crackers? They all break down to sugar too.
One common misconception is that carbohydrates and sugar are altogether different. Despite what food manufacturers would have you believe, carbohydrates are in fact sugar and sugars are in fact carbohydrates. When you look at the nutrition facts label on a product you will see “Total Carbohydrate” with two subcategories: “Dietary Fiber” and “Sugars”. Have you ever noticed that the total number of Dietary Fiber and Sugars does not equal the number listed under Total Carbohydrate? The third subcategory of carbohydrates not listed on the label is Starch. During digestion, all starch breaks down into...you guessed it, sugar. The only difference is that it takes a little longer to breakdown. Let’s go back to the bag of potato chips. The Nutrition Information section informs us that “Sugars” are 0g. Total Carbohydrates on the other hand are 17g. To the uninitiated, this looks like good news. Sadly however, those carbohydrates break straight down to sugar during digestion.
The main difference between starches and sugars is how long it takes for your body to digest it. Sugars enter your bloodstream quickly causing blood glucose to spike followed by a spike in insulin. Repeated over and over, this causes our body to become insulin resistant which is a gateway for metabolic syndrome. Carbohydrates (starches) broken down into sugars take longer to enter the bloodstream so they are less harmful from an insulin spike standpoint, but still wreak metabolic havoc.
I'm not saying you have to eliminate all those things from your diet, I just want you to know what you are up against. By all means, keep saying "no" to the cookies and donuts, but keep all those processed carbohydrates in their right place too.