A lot of people seem to be scared of sugar. Especially now that we see more and more books, articles and movies that demonize sugar and show how bad it is for our health. So what’s up with the sugar craze?
Different types of sugars
To simplify, there are two major types of sugar. The first is the highly processed sugar that we can find in many ready made foods. Often it is called white sugar or refined sugar. The only thing this type of sugar does, is add sweetness. It does not provide any nutritional value because it is highly processed so there are no minerals, vitamins or other micro nutrients left.
Second we have the more ‘natural’ sugars. I would split those into two separate categories as well: the processed natural sugars and the unprocessed natural sugars. What I mean by processed natural sugars, are sugars that are considered healthier than simple white sugar. Sugars such as agave nectar, maple syrup or coconut sugar. These sugars are often seen as healthier because they contain certain minerals or vitamins that can benefit our health. Coconut sugar also has a low glycemic index, which basically means that it does not affect our insulin and our blood sugar level as much as white sugar.
What I call unprocessed natural sugar is sugar that is contained in fruit and vegetables eaten as is. This type of sugar is truly healthy because it provides our body with needed energy so that our brain and muscles can function all day long. Your body will have to break down these sugars through digestion so they provide a long, more consistent level of fuel for the body. They also come in foods that contain other beneficial substances such as fiber, vitamins and minerals. All in all, a great choice!
No more anti-carb please!
I am not a fan at all of the anti-carb movement. It seems to be more of a phenomenon in the US than anywhere else but it is often misleading and can be harmful for your health. Please consider that your body needs sugar to survive and function correctly. It needs the right type and the right amount of it so don’t drastically cut it out. Feel free to skip the white bread, the potato chips and the other processed junk food. But don’t cut down on fresh fruit, whole grains and root veggies. These foods all contain carbs that you absolutely need. They won’t make you gain weight or develop diabetes. They will actually help you manage cravings and energy lows because they provide you with a lot of healthy nutrition.
Some of my favorite carbs are found in fruit. I love having a fresh smoothie or a big fruit salad for breakfast because it truly fuels my body. I also love sweet potatoes, root veggies, grains and beans. They are all easy to digest and provide me with a lot of energy. If you listen to experts such as Professor Collin Campbell, a pioneer when it comes to research on plant based diets, your diet should consist of about 80% carbs, 8-10% protein (plant based of course!) and 10-12% healthy fats (also plant based ;). I have been following this diet for a while now and the benefits are there: I rarely feel energy lows and I pretty much never have sugar cravings for unhealthy snacks.