Sugar is a carbohydrate.
- 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.
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.
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.
- Agave nectar
- Brown sugar
- Cane crystals
- Cane sugar
- Corn sweetener
- Corn syrup
- Crystalline fructose
- Evaporated cane juice
- Organic evaporated cane juice
- Fruit juice concentrates
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Invert sugar
- Malt syrup
- Raw sugar
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!