OK, when someone says sugar what are most of you thinking about? Candy? Ice cream? Cookies? Maybe some of you are thinking of soda, sports drinks, or caramel macchiatos. How many of you think of milk, fruit, pasta, bread, mashed potatoes, alcohol, or rice?
Simply put, sugar is a form of carbohydrate. Carbohydrates come in three types: simple sugars, starches, and fiber. Fiber is indigestible and isn’t exactly a nutrient so much as it is an essential food for the bugs in your GI track keeping your immune system in balance. The other two types, simple sugars and starch are really the EXACT same thing, only one is a bigger molecule than the other.
The only physical difference between a simple sugar, otherwise known as sugar, and a complex carbohydrate is one takes a little longer to get into your system because your body has to take more time to digest it. That’s it. That’s all. Sugar = carbohydrate = sugar.
Don’t we NEED sugar to live?
Physiologically we do not need additional sugar, as in table sugar or sucrose, in our diet. Our body is perfectly capable of making all the simple sugar we need from the break down of more complex carbohydrates. Physiologically the requirement for dietary sugar is zero.
We do, however, need carbohydrates, lots of them, and the best form is are vegetables and fruits. Even thought we limit grains and avoid sugar, the Clearwater Docs do not eat a low carb diet. I eat 5-6, or more, cups of veggies a day which is about 1000+ calories worth, that’s 50-60% of my daily calorie requirement from COMPLEX carbohydrates.
How much sugar is ok?
There is no agreed upon answer to this question in the literature. Thirty-two grams of “added” sugar (about 8 tsp) is the typical amount considered acceptable for non-diabetic persons. Added sugars includes table sugar (cane, beet, sucrose, fructose that is not in a whole piece of fruit), corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, corn sugar (glucose), honey, and maple syrup.
There are all kinds of different ways people were trying to divide up sugars that “count” as sugarand at the end of the day we are splitting hairs to justify how to eat more sugar a day and feel “ok” about it. Ultimately, your job is to listen to what your body wants. This requires getting quiet, slowing down, and listening to your inner voice. (No, its not the one saying to eat a dozen doughnuts before lunch. It’s the other one.)
Read your labels: On a product label the category “sugar” refers to simple carbs. The fiber category is just that, fiber. The rest of the grams listed are complex carbohydrates or starches.