Is Too Much Sugar Slowing You Down?
How Sugar Might be Derailing Your Progress
There is quite a bit that has been said in the past few years about the increase in sugar consumption in America, so it can be helpful to parse out exactly what happens when you consume sugar and how it affects you. The body needs sugars to function in that all metabolism comes from a breakdown of the 6-carbon molecule glucose (C6H12O6) into its constituent carbons. Just about all of the carbon that you ingest can be broken down into these 6-carbon molecules and that is how food is manufactured into energy in the body, some more quickly than others. Sucrose (C12H22O11), which is what most people would think of as sugar or sugar cane, is extremely quick to convert into glucose. The ingestion of sucrose provides a very quick spike in blood glucose levels and can result in a fast burst of energy but as the glucose is cleared from the blood it will result in a “crash” that we are all familiar with. While the energy from a blood sugar spike might benefit a short workout, you will be left with very little energy for the remainder of your day, even your car ride home from the gym! Sustained sugar consumption during the day will mean a dip in energy as the day progresses and that leaves little in the tank for your workout.
Aside from not being friendly for your sustained energy levels, sucrose over consumption will require your body to store the quick energy in fat cells around the body. Unfortunately, if we consume more “energy” than we need, our body will store it for later. This is a remnant of when in pre-historic times when food was scarce, any extra potential energy had to be stored for later time when food sources might be scarce. The only organ in the body that can process sucrose is the liver (Bray, 2007). First excess fat is stored in the liver (Faeh, 2005) and then transported out to the rest of the body but when over consumption of sucrose is sustained, the fat in the liver will impede its normal function, this can lead to I buildup of fluid in the body as well as muscle wasting. Buildup of fluid will lead to swollen and painful joints which could affect movement and impede function while muscle wasting will prevent you from gaining any meaningful muscle mass and could even hurt the progress you may have already made!
If you find that you’re too tired, your joints hurt or you aren’t hitting the weights you think that you should be, it may be time to look at your sugar consumption. The World Health Association recommends that adults consume at most between 25 and 50 grams of sugar per day. 25 grams is what many should aim for, WHO states that if you reduce sugar intake to less than 5% of your daily energy intake there will be “additional health benefits” so it would be best to stay on the lower end. If you are curious, make a challenge of it and try cutting your sugar for 1 month and assess how you feel afterwards to see if it will be worth it for you! If you think you might not be able to keep it up, try it with a friend or someone that you live with, it can help to have someone be accountable with!
- Bray. How bad is fructose? Am J Clin Nutr October 2007 vol. 86 no. 4 895-896
- Faeh, et. al. Effect of Fructose Overfeeding and Fish Oil Administration on Hepatic De Novo Lipogenesis and Insulin Sensitivity in Healthy Men. Diabetes 2005 Jul; 54(7): 1907-1913. https://doi.org/10.2337/diabetes.54.7.1907
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