Sugar May Be Useful For Diet Compliance
Sugar is not nutritious but even so may have its place in a weight loss eating plan. Why? Because weight loss research shows that diet-compliance among people following diets containing very small amounts of sugar is quite low. So if you want to reduce or maintain weight, it’s best not to reduce your sugar intake completely, although lower-sugar food options are definitely better.
Sugar Contains Non-Nutritious Calories
Sugar is an empty-calorie food – meaning, it contains zero nutrition. Thus it supplies no nutrients or micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals). It is however a fast-acting source of energy, which is almost instantly converted to blood glucose. Nutritionists distinguish between 2 types of sugars in food:
- intrinsic sugar, which is part of the food itself (eg. in fruits, sodas etc.), and
- extrinsic sugar (eg. table sugar, syrups) which is added to food.
Glycemic Effect of Sugar on Blood Glucose Levels
Dietitians and nutritional experts now consider refined white flour (eg. in cakes, fluffy breads) to be more damaging to blood glucose levels than sugars. Even so, high sugar foods tend to have higher-GI values. They also use up valuable calories without providing any nutrition, and are better avoided by anyone who wishes to lose weight. The Glycemic Index (GI) remains the definitive guide to the impact of these refined high-GI foods.
High Sugar Foods in the Average American Diet
Foods that contribute most of the sugar in the average American diet include:
- regular soft drinks (33 percent),
- sugars and candy (16 percent) cakes,
- cookies and pies (13 percent),
- fruit drinks (10 percent) ice cream,
- sweetened yogurt and sweetened milk (8.5 percent).
How to Identify Sugar in Your Foods
When buying food, look for the following names for added sugars that may be in processed foods and listed on the label ingredients list.
- Brown sugar
- Invert sugar
- Corn sweetener
- Corn syrup
- Malt syrup
- Fruit juice concentrates
- Raw sugar
- Honey Syrup