Why Sugar is Worse than Darth Vader

Sugar.

Highly addictive, horribly debilitating, unfortunately pervasive, and freaking delicious.

If I had to point to ONE culprit to our country’s expanding waistlines and rapidly deteriorating health, it would be sugar.  The amount of havoc sugar and sugar substitutes have wreaked on our nation is horribly depressing.  Fear not, as I’ve come up with the perfect solution!

Eat less sugar if you want to live longer.  

The end.

Just kidding, there’s so much more to this story than that.

I’m sure you probably have a lot of questions about sugar:

  • Is sugar THAT bad for you?
  • Fruit has sugar! Is fruit bad for you?
  • Are certain kinds of sugar better or worse for you?
  • Can you really get addicted to sugar?
  • What about sugar alternatives that are used in drinks like Diet Coke?  What about natural sweeteners?

Let’s nerd out about sugar and find out what you can do to kick your sugar habit and get your life back on track.

Fair warning: This post is MASSIVE (over 4,000 words), even for Nerd Fitness standards.

American’s love affair with sugar

candy wall
Before we get into the biological and physiological stuff relating to sugar and how it affects our body, I want to talk about just how big of a factor sugar plays in our lives.

This might be the most telling statistic relating to sugar, especially when that close to 70% of America is overweight with a THIRD of the nation  obese:

1822: Americans consume 45 grams of sugar every five days, or the amount of sugar in a can of coke.

2012: Americans consume 756 grams of sugar every five days, or 130 POUNDS of sugar a year.

As we have grown as a country (in more ways than one), sugar has continued to play an increasingly more prominent role in our food.  It’s not just sugary foods like candy and cookies either, but sugar has made its way into practically EVERYTHING we eat.

Unfortunately, it’s not just sugar that’s killing us, but scientifically manufactured “sugar” as well.

Now, we all know that correlation does NOT prove causation, so let’s dig into the science behind why sugar is ruining our bodies.

What is Sugar?

Sugar Crystals

Sugar is a carbohydrate.

If it ends in a “ose,” it’s gonna be a sugar.  If that’s all you’d like to know, feel free to move onto the next section, as I’m about to get all Mr. Wizard up in here.

There are different kinds of sugar, starting with simple sugars (called monosaccarides) like glucose, fructose, and galactose. Then there are also more complex forms (called  disaccharides) like sucrose, maltose, and lactose.  

Here’s the cheat sheet to naturally occurring sugars:

  • Let’s start with glucose: It occurs naturally in plants and fruits, and is a byproduct of photosynthesis. In our bodies glucose can be burned as energy or converted into glycogen (essentially: liver and muscle fuel). Our bodies can actually produce glucose when needed.
  • Next, fructose!  This is fruit sugar, occurring naturally in…you guessed it, fruit!  It also occurs naturally in cane sugar and honey, and is incredibly sweet.
  • Onto the more complex sugars, starting with Sucrose.  This sugar is found in the stems of sugar cane, the roots of sugar beet, and can be found naturally alongside glucose in certain fruits and other plants.
  • Last but not least, we have lactose, which is essentially milk sugar!  This is something that is created as  result of a process happening in our bodies: children possess the enzyme necessary to break down the molecule into lactose to be used by the body, while some adults don’t. These are the lactose intolerant folks.

So, we have a few key types of sugar.  But where does sugar actually come from?  It is USUALLY created as a result of the processing of one of two types of plants: sugar beets or sugar cane.  These plants are harvested, processed, and refined to eventually resemble the white sugar you’ve come to know and love (or loathe).  This sugar has absolutely no nutritional value: it’s just pure, refined, sugar.

We’ll cover other types of laboratory-created-sugar later.

What happens in our body when we eat sugar?

Sugar Cafe

Hopefully you don’t need me to tell you that sugar can cause tooth decay and rot your teeth.  

Sugar is the lifeblood of the cavity creeps!

Beyond that, your body processes sugar in a very specific way.

When you consume sugar, your body has two options on how to deal with it:

  • Burn it for energy. WEEEEE!
  • Convert to fat and store it in your fat cells.  BOOOOO!

Depending on your genetic predisposition, your body might be better equipped to process sugar as energy, or you might be more likely to store it as fat.  Think of this like you think of people with faster metabolisms vs. people with slower metabolisms.

Problem is, there’s a LOT more room for fat storage, and a lot less room to burn the sugar as energy.

So, we have this sugar in our body and blood stream. What happens next? When your pancreas detects a rush of sugar, it releases a hormone called insulin to deal with all of that excess sugar.

Insulin helps regulate that level of sugar in our blood; the more sugar in the blood stream, the more insulin is released.  Insulin helps store all of this glucose in the liver and muscles as glycogen and in fat cells (aka adipocytes stored as triglycerides).

Now, oftentimes our body struggles to get that balance right (with us putting way too much sugar in our system very quickly). TOO much insulin is released, which ultimately results in our blood sugar dropping below normal levels.

This is called hypoglycemia, essentially a sugar crash: Our bodies respond by telling us: WE WANT SUGAR.

So we cram sugar down our throats and the process starts again. 

Unfortunately, the more often this process takes place (the more sugar you consume), the more severe the blood sugar spike is, and the more insulin is required. This means it becomes easier and easier to skip using sugar as energy, and go straight to extra insulin and fat storage.

This is best explained by this three minute video, which is definitely worth watching: Why You Got Fat:

Why You Got Fat Video

Along with making you fat, sugar consumption has been implicated in a litany of crimes, including contributing to an increased chance of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, dementia, macular degeneration, renal failure, chronic kidney disease, and high blood pressure.

So, I should just eat less sugar?

measurement

Now, you might be thinking: I’ll just eat less sugar and won’t have this issue, right?  

Well, that’s a good start, but that’s only half of the battle.  You see, our bodies actually process certain types of carbohydrates in a very similar way to processing pure sugar.

Believe it or not, there is an entire area of scientific research on how our bodies process certain foods.

You’ve probably heard of the Glycemic Index, and its lesser known associate: Glycemic Load.

The Glycemic Index is the calculation of how quickly a particular type of food increases one’s blood sugar level, on a scale from 1-100 (100 being pure glucose). Harvard researchers have found that things like white bread, french fries, and other simple carbohydrates have nearly identical effects on our blood sugar as glucose.

Generally, the more refined (processed) the food, the more likely it’ll be to get converted quickly to sugar in our body for processing.

What about fruit and fruit sugar?  Keep reading!  

For now, hopefully you’re coming to a conclusion with something like this:

“Oh, maybe fat isn’t making me fat. Maybe it’s the sugar and carbohydrates that I’m consuming…”

And unfortunately, it’s not JUST sugar, but also fake sugar, which I’ll get to soon.

What surprising foods containing sugar?

frozen foods

So, we’re learning that sugar is bad for us.

That’s nothing new, and it’s not a shock to companies that manufacture food.  For that reason, companies have started to disguise the sugar in their foods, so it’s not as apparent how much sugar you are consuming.  Here’s a quick list of what sugar can be listed as on a label:

  • Agave nectar
  • Brown sugar
  • Cane crystals
  • Cane sugar
  • Corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup
  • Crystalline fructose
  • Dextrose
  • Evaporated cane juice
  • Organic evaporated cane juice
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice concentrates
  • Glucose
  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Honey
  • Invert sugar
  • Lactose
  • Maltose
  • Malt syrup
  • Molasses
  • Raw sugar
  • Sucrose
  • Sugar
  • Syrup

Why do they change the name of sugar?  Because nutritional labels are required by law to list their most prominent ingredients first. By putting two or three different types of sugar in the food (and calling them each a different name), they can spread out the sugar across three ingredients and have it show up much further down the list!  Tricky tricky tricky!

To be sure, READ THE LABELS OF FOODS THAT YOU CONSUME! 

If you’re curious how much sugar you are consuming, check out SugarStacks.com, which gives you a simple visual aid as to the amount you’re pumping into your body through surprising meals.

What about fruit sugar?

strawberries

Ahhhh, the great “is fruit sugar bad for you” debate…

Honestly, I’m quite torn on fruit and fruit sugar.  I’m a big fan of the Paleo Diet, and I know a LOT of fruit can contain a lot of fructose (and thus a lot of sugar).

That being said, I believe the consumption of fruit can be beneficial.

When you consume fruit, you are not only consuming fructose (in its natural state), but also consuming fiber and lots of vitamins and minerals.  Yes, fruit can have an effect on your blood sugar, it IS sugar. But generally fruit will cause less of a blood sugar spike compared to nutrient-void table sugar or high fructose corn syrup.

Along with that:  Fiber is an important part of a balanced diet (ask your bowels), and fruit can contain a lot of it!

Here’s my official stance on fruit: Consume fruit that has a low glycemic index/glycemic load to reduce blood sugar spikes and insulin secretion.  Consume organic fruit when possible.

If your main goal is weight loss, and you need to keep your carb intake low, minimize fruit consumption and instead load up on vegetables.

However, if your choice is between processed foods, sugary drinks, candy, or fruit…GO WITH THE FRUIT.

What about fruit juices?

mango Juice

So, we’ve established that fruit can be healthy if consumed properly.  

Unfortunately, fruit juices don’t really fit into that bill.  Here’s why:  When you consume fruit juices like orange juice, apple juice, or cranberry juice, the juice is squeezed, giving you  all of the juice but very little of the fiber or nutrients that get left behind in the process.

For this reason, many fruit juices should probably be called “sugar water.”

Here is a typical amount of sugar for four popular beverages (stats from DailyBurn):

  • Orange juice - 21g of sugar
  • Apple juice - 28g of sugar
  • Cranberry juice – 37g of sugar
  • Grapejuice - 38g of sugar

For reference, a can of teeth-rotting, insulin-spiking, fat-inducing Coca-Cola has 40g of sugar.

Want to know an even worse offender?  Naked Juices!  The “Green Machine” variety, with “NO SUGAR ADDED” and promised to be “ALL NATURAL” has 28 grams per serving…and there are TWO servings in those little tiny bottles.  That means when you consume one small bottle of  this “healthy” smoothie, you’re getting almost 60 GRAMS of sugar.

Brutal.  Shame on you, Naked.

If you’re going to eat fruit, get it in FRUIT form, not juice form.

If you’re going to drink juice, squeeze it yourself, and even then consume it in small quantities.

What about sugar alternatives?

substitutes

So, with more research coming out about the dangers of sugar, companies are scrambling to protect their image by promoting “healthy” alternatives so that they can slap on a fancy labels and toot their own horn.

There are a few main sugar alternatives that I want to cover, and allow you to make up your own mind:

Honey - Is Winnie the Pooh onto something here? Is honey a better alternative than regular sugar? The appeal of honey is that it’s not just fructose or glucose, but a mixture of all sorts of compounds, minerals, and more.  A study comparing honey to various types of compounds resulted in good results for the sticky stuff: “Overall, honey improved blood lipids, lowered inflammatory markers, and had minimal effect on blood glucose levels.” Along with that, honey resulted in a lower blood glucose spike in rats compared to other types of sugar.

Agave Nectar: This is the most recent darling of the fake “healthy food industry.”  Unfortunately, despite the fact that it comes from a cactus (which is natural!), this stuff is so processed and refined, and contains an absurd amount of refined fructose (90% fructose and 10% glucose).  Also, the process to create this stuff is similar to the process used to create high fructose corn syrup.  

Aspartame: So, many people have switched to diet soda because they heard regular soda can be bad for you.  I would guess that 90% of diet sodas out there contains aspartame, a laboratory-created sugar alternative. NutraSweet also contains aspartame and should be avoided.  Studies on this stuff have proven inconclusive and wildly different. Although some studies cite an increased link with aspartame and cancer, I believe more research needs to be done.  Even still, I have made the decision to avoid aspartame until more conclusive studies surface.

Sucralose is an artificial sweetener that is non-caloric as the body struggles to break it down.  Sucralose is approximately 600 times as sweet as sucrose (table sugar), and thus can be consumed in smaller quantities to get the same desired “sweet” effect as sugar.  Sucralose is available in things like protein powders, Splenda, and other products reliant upon remaining low-sugar or low-carb.  Allegedly, sucralose has a negligible effect on blood glucose levels.

Stevia is a naturally occurring sweetener from the Sunflower family.  It is approximately 300 times sweeter than table sugar, and allegedly has a lower effect on blood glucose levels.  As you can read about here, Stevia has had an interesting history in the United States (for political reasons), but appears to have been used in Japan and South America with minimal adverse effects.

Saccharin is another artificial sweetener, created back in the late 1890s, that is much sweeter than table sugar and thus is consumed at lower quantities.  It was linked to increased risk of cancer within laboratory rats and labeled as dangerous by the US, though this label was removed in 2000 due to the fact that the results couldn’t be replicated in humans.  That being said, more studies need to be conducted.

This nerd’s opinion: If you’re going to eat sugar, get it from fruit or naturally occurring sweeteners. With that being said, to minimize the effect on your blood sugar, minimize sugar consumption across the board if your primary goal is weight loss.

what about High Fructose Corn Syrup?

beakers

I’m writing this section while grinding my teeth because it grinds my gears.

In an effort to keep family farms alive in the Great Depression, the government started paying farmers NOT to grow food, since crop prices were wildly low. Over 80 years later the program has evolved many times, and today we give almost $5 billion a year to growers of commodity crops, creating cheap corn.

Not surprisingly, when given the option to grow a crop with or without a government subsidy, many farmers went the lucrative route.

And thus, we ended up with a crazy amount of excess corn, and nothing to use it for!

(Un)luckily, science stepped in, and found a use for corn beyond just eating it or feeding it to animals.

Scientists discovered by processing and refining the corn, it could be turned into a sugar alternative, called high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).  Despite the name, high fructose corn syrup is actually composed of equal parts of fructose and equal parts glucose.

This video gives a quick demonstration of how HFCS is produced.  

As the government continued to subsidize farmers to produce corn, the cheap price of HFCS created a MUCH cheaper alternative for food producers compared to regular sugar.

Now, producers of high fructose corn syrup (and producers of food who use it) argue that it is no different on a molecular level from regular sugar, and is thus a safe alternative to sugar in food and drinks.

Unfortunately, it turns out that HFCS, despite being molecularly similar to regular sugar, does not affect the body the same way as table sugar.  A recent study conducted by Princeton University concluded:

Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same.

In addition to causing significant weight gain in lab animals, long-term consumption of high-fructose corn syrup also led to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen, and a rise in circulating blood fats called triglycerides.

Two groups of rats were fed the exact same number of calories. One group was fed HFCS, while the other was fed regular table sugar.  The rats fed HFCS gained significantly more weight.

If this was a movie, you’d see an evil scientist in a laboratory, with lighting flashing in the background as he laughs maniacally while creating his greatest evil creation: HFCS, knowing that it’ll soon take over the world.

I highly recommend you watch the documentary “King Corn,” available for free on Amazon Prime for an interesting look at just how pervasive corn and high fructose corn syrup has become in our nation.  

Sugar = bad. High Fructose Corn Syrup = Bowser evil.

Can you get addicted to sugar?

Candy

So we’ve covered natural sugars, sugar alternatives, and the evil HFCS. Is this stuff addictive?

Short answer: YES.

Long answer: Sugary foods can be as physiologically addictive as many drugs.  You can legitimately become addicted to sugar and sugary foods.

HOLY CRAP!

From another study:

In most mammals, including rats and humans, sweet receptors evolved in ancestral environments poor in sugars and are thus not adapted to high concentrations of sweet tastants. The supranormal stimulation of these receptors by sugar-rich diets, such as those now widely available in modern societies, would generate a supranormal reward signal in the brain, with the potential to override self-control mechanisms and thus to lead to addiction.

In other words: We are not genetically designed to consume the amount of sugar that we are currently eating.  For that reason, our brains get that ‘happy feeling’ from sugar and it can override the “I’ve had enough” mechanism.

It’s why your concentration goes to Hell when you eat a chocolate chip cookie and there is an additional plate of them in front of you.  Suddenly it’s the only thing you can think about until you’ve eaten them all!  Or you eat a Peanut M&M, and suddenly you’ve polished off a family-sized bag.

Do this repeatedly, and like Pavlov’s dog, your brain will start to anticipate this sugar rush and get prepared for it…even when you’re merely thinking about food!  

It’s why Cinnabon is usually isolated in malls - away from the food court, it has a better chance of getting its smells into your nostrils from far away…which then triggers that mechanism in your brain if you love sugar: “SUGAR! CINNABON! HUNGRY NOW!” Suddenly you can’t think of anything else.

It’s also why everybody in line for Cinnabon looks so depressed. As Louis CK hilariously points out (NSFW language): it’s like they have no control.

I think I’m definitely addicted to sugar.

Dixie Crystal Sugar

I’ve already covered food addiction, but I want to talk specifically about sugar.

Like with any other addiction, you have two main options:

  • Cold turkey (and suffer through the withdrawal).
  • Slowly ramping down the addiction.

I’m a bigger fan of the second option, as I find that most people end up going overboard when they fail on the “cold turkey” and are worse off than before.

However, I don’t know you personally (which is a shame!), so you’ll have to decide for yourself which method is best for you.

Like with any habit, it’s far easier to build a new habit in place of an old one than just trying to get rid of the old habit, so let’s take action:

1) Create your new identity.  “I am somebody who is completely in control of the food that I eat.” “I only drink soda once a day instead of four times a day.”  “I don’t eat cookies.”  The more specific and positive and definitive you can make your new identity, the more likely you will be to eventually make that identity your new reality.

2) Be aware of your cravings. When you start to crave sugar, don’t just run to get sugar immediately.  Take a few minutes and analyze why: is it because you are depressed and unhappy? Bored? Hungry?  Sugar creates that happy feeling in your brain, and thus you could be craving sugar for any number of reasons.

3) Once you identify the reason for your sugar craving, decide if there is another activity you can complete to accomplish the intended desire without sugar.  Maybe you’re bored, so going for a walk or playing a game or talking to a friend could help. If you’re unhappy, understand that the quick rush of sugar does not beat out long-term happiness and success.  If you’re hungry, eat  food with lots of fat and protein and fill yourself up.

4) Identify rules for yourself, and stick with them by minimizing willpower required.  “Today, I will replace one of my sodas with water.”  “I drink water with dinner, I don’t drink soda.”  “I don’t ________.”  It’s important to use “don’t” instead of “can’t”. Studies have shown that using “don’t” results in a much stronger dedication to habit building.

5) Increase the difficulty to continue your bad habit.  Don’t keep cookies on the counter.  Don’t keep ice cream stocked in your fridge. If you are trying to eat less sugar, increase the number of steps between you and sugar. If you are on your couch and see a commercial for something sugary, use your own laziness to work for you. Suddenly, getting in the car, driving to the store, and buying something sweet is more effort than its worth.

Along with those few steps to get started, here are some other things you can do to help yourself fight the battle and win.

  • Get mad. Like, really mad.  I hate not feeling in control, and right now, the sugar and food companies have you under their control.  If anything, you’re going to kick your sugar addiction to make yourself healthier and happier, but also out of spite.  Stick it to the man, and let him know you’re taking back your brain.
  • Don’t do it alone.  Have somebody to talk to through the process. Work with others who have successfully kicked their sugar habits (check the NF boards if you don’t have somebody at home).
  • Need SOMETHING sweet? Try dark chocolate or fruit. If you are craving something sweet, aim for alternatives that aren’t as bad for you or don’t trigger the same blood glucose spike.  Eat dark chocolate with a cocoa content above 70% – you still get to feed your sweet tooth, but the sugar content in minimal compared to milk chocolate.
  • Slowly scale it down.  I don’t care if it takes you a year of slowly changing your habits to kick your sugar habit. Every change counts, and every little bit adds up.  If you drink a case of diet coke every day, tomorrow only drink 11. In two weeks, cut it back to 10 per day. And then 9.  And then eventually maybe it’s “only one on Friday.”
  • Keep busy.  If you are thinking about sugar, get up and go do something or engage your brain in another way so that you are not stuck with a one-track mind (focusing on the sugar that you’re not currently eating).
  • EXERCISE! Sugar raises serotonin and dopamine levels, which can factor into your cravings. Exercise can do the same thing! Try exercising when you have sugar cravings…get that rush (and build your habits around that).  Get addicted to the high from exercise.
  • If you have children, save them now! Sugar addiction is built up over time, and yours might have started back when you were a child.  Instead of creating a reward system with candy and treats, create a reward system that rewards your kids back with a healthier lifestyle (like in Zelda!).
  • If you have to have sugar, consume it close to a workout. When you consume sugar before or after a workout, you will have a greater chance of burning the sugar/carbs as energy or having it stored as glycogen in your muscles and liver rather than being stored as fat!.

At the end of the day, understand that you are in control.  If you are going to eat chocolate or something sweet, it’s because you made a conscious decision to do so OCCASIONALLY, not because you had to have it.  Understand that it will be challenging.  Understand that there will be cravings that get better with time.

Most importantly, understand that what you really want (a happier, healthier life) can’t happen if you keep settling for what you want RIGHT NOW (sugar!).

Understand that you can change.

Vote with your wallet

Opportunity Center

Every time you buy food, you are casting a ballot.

Every time you purchase something with high fructose corn syrup in it, you’re sending a message that you don’t care about your body, that you are satisfied with food that is making you sick, fat, and unhealthy.

Why not cast your vote for a better life?

Today’s article is educational: without action it’s just a pile of underpants

I challenge you to decrease your sugar intake.

I challenge you to start eating more real foods and less processed ones.

I challenge you to cut back on candy and soda purchases.

Are you up to the challenge?

I’d love to hear about your personal relationship with sugar.  Would you call yourself addicted?  Have you kicked an addiction? If so, how did you do it?

Share your story below and help out your fellow rebels!

-Steve

###

Photo source: action figure and sugar pile, beaker, measurement, alternatives, candy wall, frozen food, juice, fruit, candy, sugar spoon, dixie sugar, sugar cafe,opportunity

Get The Rebel Starter Kit

Enter your email and we’ll send it right over.

  • The 15 mistakes you don’t want to make.
  • The most effective diet and why it works.
  • Complete your first workout today, no gym required.
  • These are the tools you need to start your quest.
  • Lindsay J

    So the conversations were a while back, but I am just getting into this. I am currently batteling candida. Truthfully, the GAPS diet scares me, but I am totally in on the cutting sugar thing (especially on this side of Thanksgiving and Christmas). Here is my problem. I have had little sugar in the past 36 hours or so, and I am so miserable. I know just like any drug, that is normal. I feel starving, sad, and just plain crappy. So, obviously I am addicted. How long will this part last??

  • Frances Rose Subbiondo

    i am now 1 year, 2 months off cane sugar — & it feels f%#&in’ great — & has gotten way easier. <3 .

    i used give myself these vicious spikes with sugar. deep, ugly addiction — & tied to all kinds of emotional stuff that replaced food & sweets where i wanted love to be. -aholic. my life feels way more even-keel now, & i know my face is more radiant & my body feels less worked & less tired. hooray. thank you, everybody. & good progress to you if you're doing the same or something similar. <3 .

    SUPER HELPFUL FOR ME:

    - the phrases, 'i don't take sugar.' & 'it's ugly — you don't want to see it.' (to those that ask….)

    - (particularly early in the time) eating foil pouches of indian mustard greens (sarson ka saag) when sugar cravings hit — & sour, fermented foods too, like sauerkraut

    - dessert bowls: with tahini & honey & dried fruit. &, peanut butter & maple syrup, vanilla & cinnamon.

    - the intimate knowledge that sugar is not good for me

    - extreme care around bread & wheat, as they trigger sugar cravings

    - cooking what i eat myself

    <3 wildRose

  • SCC

    I was having serious pains a few months ago; convinced I had breast cancer. After doing a multitude of tests, discovered I had “fibrous, dense tissue”, that’s it. I heard reducing chocolate & caffeine could help women with breast pain, and I took this a little further. I cut back to one cup of coffee, eliminated the sugar, replaced bread with large romaine lettuce leaves, replaced pasta or white rice with extra vegetables or quinoa. In a few weeks, the pain went away! And…I lost those last 10 pounds I’ve been carrying for years. I was not trying to, but, they melted away. I’m 44 years old and the smallest I’ve been since junior high. It’s nice to have a desert here and there, or good ol’ piece of french bread; yet, it’s the exception to my daily food intake. And, it’s very limited…has to be. Your article helped me to understand why this was a good idea.

  • Nadine Woismeinblistex

    Oh, it seems that I was lucky. It only took me 4 days to get over it. Whenever I wanted something sweet, I got a banana or an orange or drank some peppermint tea. After 4 days, the cravings were gone. I actually don’t even like chocolate anymore, now – the taste is ok, but I don’t like the consistency. (I tested it – and then got an apple after only one small bite of chocolate. ^^)

  • HappyCamper

    So I’ve found a way that for me worked absolutely amazing. I noticed that sugar was the exact thing that gave me acne ( which I was sick and tired of) so I decided to cut down specifically on sugar. I came across a motivational post that essentially works with any goal not only to withdraw to certain foods. So here it is: Realize how much you really want to achieve your goal. You HAVE to want it. Live your goal. Breathe it. Wanting should be as important to you as living and as natural as breathing. Every time you want something you shouldn’t have like a candy, or a cigarette. You gotta remind yourself how much you really want it. Do you want it more than your goal? because if you do, you don’t want your goal enough.

  • Bec

    There are varying amounts of fructose in fruits, berries, lemons, grapefruit have low fructose where apples, melons etc have high amounts. Could be why Sarah has to stick to berries. Look up fructose allergies and it will explain this better.

    I really wish that the benefits of eating whole fruits was promoted better rather than the pulp free juice. Just doesn’t get talked about enough, no money in it probably. We need fruits fibre it to pass through our digestive system properly, ironically there is enough fibre in each type of fruit for this to happen. Should still limit it to 2 pieces/day.

  • Pingback: Giving It 100 | The Curvy Road Runner

  • Pingback: My Blog » Blog Archive » Why Sugar is Worse than Darth Vader

  • Pingback: Day 5 – Feeling Exhausted | findmy6pack

  • russellwturner

    Think you are being overly critical JoeG.

    This article has been written to make it accessible and not overly technical. It is well written and engaging.

    The problem is not with sugar – it is the levels in which it is being pumped into the processed foods that are consumed in large quantities every day around the world. People are often unaware that they are eating more sugar than they think. Take a bowl of Corn Flakes. Already has sugar added, cover it with milk which most people are not aware contains sugars, add some refined sugar as a sprinkling and already you probably have more than double the amount of sugar you think you are eating.

    We need sugars, we are conditioned to like sugars from the moment as a baby we taste a mothers breast milk which is sweet. It tells us that it is good, that this sweet taste will give us energy. Sugar is not evil, it is the companies that exploit this natural liking for sugars to sell more product.

    The expression “give the user a little sweetener” is no joke. Its based on the fact that sugar can be addictive and leads us to want more.

    Nature is full of examples of how sugar underpins the food cycle, from bumblebees and even fish (debates are taking place as to the requirements of carbohydrates in fish feed).

    Sugar intake just needs moderating. Easy to to in terms of what to eat but difficult to achieve in terms of kicking the habit.

  • russellwturner

    Still frustrated that some schools in the US allow sweetened milk to be served to young children as if it is healthy. Give them plain old milk – no added sugar.

  • Pingback: The self-science of healthy eating | Organic Fusion Integrated

  • Ian

    Great article. I’d say sweets are my number one addiction with caffeine taking a second. Based on experience this is right on and keeping myself employed and busy is key to staying away from sugar and the voice in my head that tells me to get it.

  • Angela

    Thanks for this. Wow, just stumbled upon your article and it has opened my eyes. I am a salad-seed-berry eating freak and dont have a weight problem at all but I do drink juices and didn’t know how much sugar I was taking in. Thank you for the eye opener!!:)@

  • Meddle Armour

    This is such a great article! What about sugar alcohols like malitol? I’m noticing it in a lot of new protein supplements.

  • jessie jess

    Seriously, I can eat an entire cake. I pop chocolate squares like popcorn. I can drink a whole bottle of juice in one day. I can get very irritable if I don’t get it or can’t get to it when I want. I thought that by eating natural sugar and not hfcs that I was doing well. Drinking juice instead of soda, no good. I’m ready to change. Juice cut with water. More fruit instead of juice and then eventually, more veggies instead of fruit. What about sweet potatoes?

  • manuel huber

    Sugar is in fact a seriously scary deadly drug. withdrawal from sugar results in very negative consequences. As does remaining on sugar has very negative consequences. Sugar might just be as bad or worse than any illegal drug.-fact (lets face facts)

  • beege

    Great article! For me, I went cold turkey off sugar and ate fruit and nuts all day with a good meal at night. Took about 4 days, then I came out of the sugar fog and have not gone back! Presently, I am gearing over to more veggies in my diet. Very glad I did it!

  • Beki88

    Great article and really opened my eyes. I was a full on sugar addict. Mainly in the form of chocolate and cakes/biscuits. I made the decision to cut down and it was hell! Quitting smoking was easier. I was so used to the energy-crash-eat cycle that when I crashed and didn’t eat, it was hell, I shook I cried I couldn’t concentrate I actually mildly crashed the car! I have slowly allowed my self the odd treat every now and then but have to be so careful. However I was shocked at how much sugar is in pretty much everything! Even things like cornflakes (which contains the HFCS which I have only just discovered) I have made the pledge that within the next 6 months I will be using our supermarket as little as possible and getting meat fruit veg etc from local sources and then anything else like sauces will be home made at least that way I can limit it a little. Still trying to find a healthy cereal for the kids. I feel like everything I pick up especially those things marketed as healthy are most certainly not! I know the majority of things have sugar but it really ha surprised me just how much they get away with. The food manufacturers and our government ought to be ashamed. I wish there was more education on things like this and tougher regulation in the UK. Thanks again for the article.

  • khall

    what about the organic pure maple or grape syrup? ? its healthy to consume daily?
    Thank you

  • T

    Thank you for sharing this article. I’v just begun researching sugar addiction and like most, O.K., anything you look up on the internet there is “evidence” for both sides and then there is all the opinions and ideas shared as fact. Or the all to common made up statistic “cuz it seems about right”. It seems that you have done some real research, the comedian reference aside. I would be more interested in some study and research information if you have it.
    In the past I have allowed myself to eat whatever I wanted in Dec. with the understanding that I would fast from sugar in Jan. to get back to a healthy place. After 2-3 years of doing this I realized that I can’t put my guard down ever. As soon as I think I’ve kicked the habit and I’m ok to eat sugar again the cravings are back to daily or with every meal within 3-4 weeks. So this year I’m changing my strategy and aiming for less than 40 grams a day and allowing myself sugar treats only when it is given as a gift or on a holiday. I
    I love what you said on the difference between can’t and don’t. The new me does not buy processed sugar unless its a holiday or birthday and I’m going to bake. That sounds extreme, but it comes out to about 1-2x a month. And a couple months free. Hopefully this will work for me. I would put myself in the “once you pop you just can’t stop” category. This will probably be a life long battle of moderation. But I intend to find some method of reducing the number of battles.

  • chrissie l

    This is the best article I have read on this subject in a while. I never had a sweet tooth. As a child we were organic and snacks were retrieved from the garden. My favorite was radishes and raw potatoes. Now I am an adult and I have a terrible sweet tooth. It happened in the last few years, little by little. Yes, it is a true addiction. Yes, I am going to break it. Thanks for the info.

  • Cher

    I kicked my sugar addiction last summer when I happened upon some fat loss blogs after realizing my weight was always yo-yoing. I would go on a binge, get fat, and then starve myself to lose weight, most of it, muscle. So I got pancake butt, and would fatten myself up again to get those “curves” which just never turned out how I wanted. So I went cold turkey after discovering the fat loss blogs and for some reason it was easy for me, I think because I was so excited that I finally found the right way to be healthy. I started consuming a lot of vegetables, quit coffee as well, upped healthy fats, water, and just started eating real food in general. When I wanted something sweet, I used stevia. I did not have a cheat meal until 2 months after I started this, and even then, it wasn’t bad. It was fajitas at the mexican restaurant, no rice, no beans. I have never felt better in my life. My body started to change as I did smart workouts fast, intense workouts with weights. 30 pounds disappeared and muscle started appearing as well as body shape. My skin changed, other issues cleared up, and I was no longer groggy or afraid of exercise. My main excuse for not exercising before was messing up my hair. WOW. Sugar is non-essential and I won’t go back.!

  • Heidi

    I am a hectic sugar addict! Mostly milk chocolates..and chocolate in general…and biscuits!(cookies) I will eat a whole packet by myself in a single seating. I don’t eat any sweets in the the week but then…BINGE LIKE A CRAZY MOFO on the weekends! I hate doing it to my body seriously..I need to break the cycle. Thanks for the article It’s changed my way of thinking of tackling this addiction.

  • Max Pankow

    FABULOUS article about sugar! I am a Life & Wellness Coach as well as fellow health blogger, and I strongly encourage my clients to reduce their sugar intake because of the detrimental effects it has on the body. This article captures it beautifully! I will be sharing this information with my team :) Thank you Steve for another insightful post. I love reading your site!

  • Fran

    Super article. I am addicted to sugar. I take medications that can make me groggy, but after reading this article, I realize it’s the sugar that’s causing the fatigue and “hate to get up syndrome.” Sometimes I work until 11pm, and when I get home, I stuff my face with ice cream or chocolate chip cookies. Then, at about 12 midnight I take my medications, and blame them for keeping my groggy in the morning. Frankly, I couldn’t figure it out. Last night I drank a coke at dinner time. In the morning I fell asleep on the commode! I couldn’t wake up! I thank you for your advice. I’m going to start dieting gradually–tapering off on the sugar. I bet my meds are not to blame for my fatigue. I’ll find out soon and let you know how it goes.

  • Teri

    Fab. U. Lous. I am a recovering alcoholic. (Sober 12 years) and gave up sugar on March 6 of this year. The first week of no sugar was just like giving up alcohol. I thought about it constantly, I was irritable, I was sad. At one point our black cat walked by me and I thought he was a HoHo! I have not doubt we are addicted to sugar. After the first week and a half I did not crave it any more but I am also ultra aware of where it is…it’s everywhere! I did not go all out sugar free. Just desserts, donuts, ice cream, candy. I feel so much better! No achy joints, no back pain. (I’m 51 so my body is starting to get a little creeky). I have slowly been eliminating processed carbs as well and with each reduction of bad food I feel better. I did not really need to lose weight but my body shape is changing…I do not have such a mushy belly (sorry for the graphic detail!) Keep on spreading the word. Thanks for a great article, I’ll be sending some friends your way.

  • Mira

    Great great article. I am in my third ‘sugar free’ week now and while its hard at times I love the feeling of being ‘free to decide what and when I want to eat rather than being a slave of my suggar addiction. Just the inspiration I needed today! Thanks

  • Mira

    well done Laura, great inspiration. I am in my third week now and shocked to have already lost 2kg which is a lot given that I am 61kg (veggie and fairly healthy). Yaaay!

  • emily

    I am one hundred percent addicted to sugar! I went vegan for ethical and then health reasons but have done it completely wrong… I know practically jus live off fruit, some veggies and occasionally nuts and whole grains. I crave sugar (fruit etc) constantly and never feel satisfied with a meal ahhh! any tips? I feel i should stop being vegan but am not sure if can do that ethically…..help!

  • disqus_2KHOsGkwvj

    HONEY!

  • Sally

    Oh my goodness, I am completety addicted! I will begin my new life tomorrow. Sugar sucks!

  • Becka

    I am currently in this uphill battle with sugar addiction. It’s so bad I feel like I have no control at times. The crazy thing about me is I am a all or nothin type of person. Just two weeks ago I was on a good path eating all natural good foods working out. And for the past two weeks I’m on this downward binge consuming nothing but garbage. I feel like I need help but I started I pay attention to how I would feel while consuming these high sugery food and it’s like any addiction. A rush of good feelings temporary. I decided that I needed to educate myself and major props to need fitness. I have learned soo much about a lot of different aspects of health and fitness and now this. You’ve broke everything down soo easily understood that I am gonn now try to use my newfound education towards sugar to help me.

  • helpdrug

    This isn’t even fact. I am a health care professional and diabetes is caused from inflammation/heat and dehydration- not sugar consumption- which is fact actually “cools” the body and promotes water retention- hence when people donate blood, they are immediately given juice to drink afterwards to build up the body’s blood, plasma and liquids volume..Plus, in fact there are also just as many skinny people on low sugar diets who end up diabetic- as we see in our practices.

  • Dick

    Snarf

  • Aheshke

    I am a sugar addict. My entire family struggles with it; most of us are pre-diabetic, if not actually diabetic or struggling with weight gain and energy imbalance due to our diets.
    Over the last year, my family began drastically reducing our consumption of sugar after a family member was diagnosed with cancer and simultaneously began to have allergic-like reactions to anything high in sugar.
    At first, I thought it was mostly convenient and a show of support by following her suit. But over the last few months, the difference has really showed. We cook more healthful foods and it tastes better because we focus more on spices and balance without sugar. We focus more on fruits and vegetables and have more energy throughout the day instead of crashing in the afternoons. We’ve greatly reduced our consumption of sugar-substitutes such as stevia and honey, too. Most of the sugar in our diet comes from the rice milk we drink and fruit. Also, when I really stick to the diet and my minimum daily half-hour of exercise, I lose weight effortlessly; it’s almost shocking!
    I started off by saying I’m a sugar addict and I still very much am. I still get cravings, but they aren’t as bad and I don’t give in as often. I slip up from time to time, but nowadays I usually think about how much sugar or calories I’ve consumed and can limit myself or substitute for something healthier. I have almost no taste for the old sugary things I used to eat; sometimes when I slip up and eat them again I begin to gag because they taste nasty now.
    I concur with what you’ve said about sugar and hope more people read this article and begin to make life-saving changes. I may be an addict and I may relapse, but every time I slip, I’m determined to make better choices. And most of the time, I do.

  • Sibapu

    Day 5 of “cold turkey” no classic sugar (soda, cookies, ice cream, candy, etc.) cut back on carbs but not totally. Feel HORRIBLE today every other day mild headache, no energy – today woke up with major migrane. This article is very encouraging I am doing the right thing.

  • Katie

    I tried so many times to cut back on my sugar intake, no candy, cookies, cupcakes, etc. but never succeeded. I recently decided to quit eating ALL forms of sugar (I eat nothing that contains sugar), it’s been 2 weeks and I haven’t craved sugar since the second day. And, after the third day I started to notice a huge difference in my mood and overall attitude. It’s only been a few weeks but even at this point I know I’m not going back to eating sugar ever again.

  • Theresa Henderson

    EYE OPENING DOES NOT EVEN BEGIN TO COVER IT. THANK YOU

  • http://productionblue.com Chad Carlberg

    Actually, and I’m not saying this to be contrariant so I don’t really mean actually but “totally agree. And here’s a funny aside”, if you were an alcoholic and were in the hospital for some late stage liver disease and suffering through hardcore withdrawal, a doctor might very well prescribe a six pack.

  • sumojoe

    Glad to find this website! I just started on Friday a project of reducing the sugar in my diet. I’m aiming for ~20 grams of added sugar a day, but didn’t hit the mark until Sunday. (Friendly sabotage by the spouse.) I don’t have health problems, but dad gum, the future looks scary. Nice to know that others out there are also trying to give up the stuff. I’m blogging about my attempt and will cite this website as part of tomorrow’s log.

  • Jenko80

    Im currently trying to kick my sugar addiction, its extremely hard, i cant stop thinking about it, its harder when my mum buys chocolate and sweets and they are there taunting me, it feels like a constant tug of war. I keep feeling im on the edge of breaking all the time. But i am always complaining about smokers, drinkers and people who abuse drugs but im doing the same with sugar.

  • Charlie

    So wait…. Is honey good or bad?

  • Charlie

    Gum is loaded with aspartame. You should probably try to ween yourself off that too. I’m kind of a gum addict so it was pretty hard for me to accept.

  • me

    This is what helped me lose weight:

    3 months plantarian (up to 4,000 calories a day of only fruit and veggies – hard to believe, but keep reading). Stopped because fruit is expensive. Went from 115lbs to 105lbs.

    Now vegan (2,000 calories a day) Lose 5lbs each month.

    What I eat now: Complex carbs like rice and potatoes. NOT simple carbs like flour. Lots of vegetables.

    I don’t exercise.

    YOU MUST EAT MORE ON A PLANTARIAN DIET! Raw food gets used up quickly so you need to eat more. If you want more information, or don’t believe this works, check out ‘freeleethebananagirl’ on youtube. She’s been a vegan for 8 years and she eats 50 bananas a day (she does vlogs that show what she’s eating). She eats up to 5,000 calories a day and she lost over 40lbs.

    It won’t make sense if you haven’t researched it. Don’t believe me? Just watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtgS7vSSIJQ

  • Payton

    Hi, this really helped me out in starting to understand these different types of sugars and what happens to the body after its ingested . My sister and mother in law have diabetes haunting their lives and this helped me better understand the sole item that causes this disease . So thankyou for your words of knowledge , I hope to read more from you , you have a way with words . :)

  • Nicki

    I stopped eating junk food when I 18 & lost 50 lbs in 5 months. After a year I went back to eating junk, and over the years I’ve put on over 100 lbs. Last year I quit sugar for 11 months and lost 20 lbs. I went back on sugar but kept it minimal and have maintained the 20 lb weight loss. 2 days ago I decided to cut the sugar again. Hopefully this time it sticks and I finally lose all the weight I had gained.

  • Akshtha

    Could you let us know about the sugar free cubes that we get! are those genuinely sugar “free”

  • Mirra

    I have a fast metabolism so I am not worried about getting fat, but I do want to be healthy, so it’s hard to decipher HOW much sugar I should allow myself.. But I have learned recently that eating more protein may help me with cravings because it regulates sugar blood levels. I wouldn’t consider myself addicted to sugar but I do love it and find myself craving it (especially after exercising or in the evening because I am in the habit of eating it at night)

  • rubagreta

    Incredible article! I may have missed it but did you state that 4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon of sugar. If the FDA really cared about the health of Americans (and they don’t, they care about the health of the food industry), nutrition labels would contain teaspoons, which everyone understands, instead of grams, which nobody understands.
    All of a sudden that fruit yogurt with 28 grams (7 teaspoons) of sugar, and that “healthy” cereal with 16 grams (4 teaspoons) of sugar is not looking too good.