The Real Truth About Sugar (The Good, The Bad, The Substitutes) – And How To Break Out Of The Cravings Cycle Once And For All
Posted on 21 October 2013
By JJ Virgin
A Note from Dr. Sara…If you have a sticky relationship with sugar (no pun intended), now is the time to take action and take back control over your health, hormones and happiness. In today’s article, my good friend JJ Virgin reveals the real truth about sugar in all its forms, and how you can escape the vicious cravings cycle before the holiday season begins. Pssst… If you missed our top-secret webinar last week, join us for the one-time replay on Friday, October 25 at 11am Pacific (2pm Eastern). JJ is a master at helping people break out of sugar addiction and craving hell, and she graciously offered this webinar exclusively for my tribe. Go here to RSVP: http://saragottfriedmd.com/sara-jj-secret-webinar
The Real Truth About Sugar
Good Sugar vs. “Bad” SugarThe important thing is how quickly that sugar raises your blood sugar levels. Rather than being a no-sugar diet, The Virgin Diet is a low-glycemic diet. In other words, the foods you eat on my diet create a slow, steady rise in blood sugar. You don’t get a giant insulin surge that subsequently causes your blood sugar to crash and creates fatigue, inflammation, and fat gain. On the other hand, let’s say you eat a hot fudge sundae. You’re going to get a rapid blood sugar spike. Insulin swoops in to pull that blood sugar down, but what happens too often is insulin over-compensates and pulls your blood sugar down too low, leaving you fatigued and oddly craving another hot fudge sundae even though you just ate one 2 hours ago. You’d have to eat a heck of a lot of broccoli or raw almonds to raise your blood sugar even a little bit. Besides having trivial amounts of sugar to begin with, fiber in these foods further buffers out that minute sugar load. Even legumes and other starchy carbs, which are a little higher in sugar, offer beneficial amounts of fiber to balance blood sugar levels. I recommend them in small amounts on The Virgin Diet because they offer nutrients and steady sustained energy. Bottom line: it’s not just the sugar in food that creates problems. It’s the food’s overall glycemic impact on your bloodstream. In other words, avoid foods that are high in sugar and devoid of fiber, protein, and healthy fats.
Sugar In Fruit – Is It Always A Healthy Choice?Because some varieties are higher in sugar, fruit is a little more complex than vegetables and other foods. Higher-glycemic fruits like bananas and grapes can raise blood sugar pretty quickly because they have more sugar but also less fiber than, say, raspberries. They aren’t “bad” foods, but neither are they unlimited as some diet plans will have you believe. Trust me: if you eat a big bowl of red grapes, you will raise your blood sugar. Berries, on the other hand, are lower on the glycemic index, which means they provide a slow, steady rise in blood sugar that won’t trigger a dramatic insulin response. Berries are my preferred fruit, followed by apples and other lower-glycemic fruits. Occasionally someone will ask why I recommend something like blueberries, considering a cup of them contains 15 grams of sugar. Doesn’t that violate my 5-grams-or-less per serving sugar rule? Well, nature packaged blueberries (and other fruits, for that matter) with nutrients, fiber, antioxidants, and all kinds of other compounds that cumulatively reduce that sugar load. Like I mentioned before, the fiber and nutrients in blueberries create a relatively low glycemic index. In fact, studies show blueberries can help normalize blood sugar levels and reduce your risk for diabetes. On the other hand, dumping 15 grams of sugar into processed foods like a protein bar has a completely different effect on your blood sugar levels. Even if you get a little fiber, you’re not getting all those nutrients and antioxidants to buffer out sugar’s effects. Processed food will never be able to compete with Mother Nature!
No-Sugar-Added Foods – Nightmare Or Dream Come True?Manufacturers realize you know sugary foods are bad, so they’ve cleverly developed “guilt-free” versions of your favorites. Craving chocolate toffee or butter pecan ice cream? No worries: now you can “legally” enjoy a sugar-free version. Manufacturers originally created these processed foods for people with type 2 diabetes, but dieters quickly caught on, believing they could literally have their cake and eat it too. Let’s take a look at 2 of these disclaimers to see how they can become confusing:
- “No sugar added” – Just because a manufacturer hasn’t added sugar doesn’t mean the food or drink doesn’t contain sugar. For instance, a no-sugar-added ice cream might still contain 10 grams of sugar per serving, depending on what other sugar-containing ingredients they’ve used. In other words, “no sugar added” does not mean that food is sugar free.
- “Sugar free” – again, you’re not off the hook here. That food or drink may indeed have no sugar, but it frequently contains artificial sweeteners and/ or sugar alcohols. Excessive amounts of sugar alcohols (particularly maltitol) in processed foods can cause unpleasant gastric effects (better be near a bathroom!), and experts aren’t sure their impact on insulin secretion.