There is a lot of information regarding sugar. This abundance of data can be useful but does present challenges for clinicians who oftentimes must summarize useful materials that can serve many individuals.
Simply put, sugar, typically refers to all carbohydrates with a general molecular makeup of CnH2On. Sugar can be found in plants, animal milk or it can also be chemically manufactured. Sources of naturally occurring sugars include things like fruit and cow’s milk. Added sugars are those where any type of sugar or sweetener is added to a food item. Even if a naturally occurring sugar is added to a food product, that product must still claim to have added sugars.
The body metabolizes sugar for fuel where glucose is used as a quick energy source. When glucose is consumed, sugar levels in the blood rise, and the pancreas is stimulated to release insulin. Insulin triggers an uptake of sugar from the blood to cells. Excess glucose can be stored as glycogen in muscles or as lipids in fat tissue.
If sugar is consumed in tandem with fiber, up to 30% of that sugar may not be absorbed. This slows the rate of rising blood sugar, which has been linked to health benefits.
The brain uses a significant percentage of glucose in the body. One study noted that of available glucose, the brain metabolized 60%! Thus, the recommended intake of carbohydrate is 130g per day. This daily allowance does not incorporate physical activity levels and thus additional intake should be considered based on each individual and their level and type of movement.
Underconsumption of carbohydrates may lead to body water weight decreases that are falsely assumed to be fat loss. This is because glycogen particles in liver cells are larger and hold more water than other cells. Thus, when glucose in liver cells is not replenished, neither is that water. More so, when there is inadequate carbohydrate in the diet, there can be break down of lean muscle mass.