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Are All Sugars Created Equal?

Sugar is a controversial subject.

Do we avoid it, or do we reach for artificial sweeteners?

What about Cane Sugar, or honey?

These are all valid questions, and honestly they’re all confusing. There is a lot of misconception around whether or not one sweetener is better than another. Here’s the thing- while there are less-processed versions of sweeteners, sugar is sugar. Will it make what you’re eating sweeter? Yes. Is the cookie sweetened with honey healthier than the cookie sweetened with table sugar? Not necessarily.

Wait, what? I thought that less-processed is better. While, yes, you generally want to prioritize eating less-processed foods, there is no “better” sugar. If you look at sweeteners like honey and cane sugar on the Glycemic Index, they are relatively close together, which means that while cane sugar is technically higher, it does NOT mean that honey is “healthy.” Both cane sugar and honey are comprised of glucose and fructose, which are quickly digested, and spike blood sugar levels (which puts them higher on the Glycemic Index). Honey has less of a combination of glucose and fructose, as compared to cane sugar, and is also comprised of minerals, water and pollen. Minerals (potassium and magnesium) can be used by the body, along with the water in honey. Cane sugar is half fructose, half glucose- nothing else. Fructose is stored in fat cells in the body (mainly the liver), while glucose is used as energy for cells.

So you can start to see that some sweeteners may have added benefits on top of their taste, but the big takeaway here is that even the sweeteners deemed “healthier” are still made up of things your body has a hard time digesting.

Artificial (no-calorie) sweeteners are even more controversial. I have to admit that even I had conflicting opinions on no- or low-calorie sweeteners, because we aren’t really sure of the effect they’ll have on your body. The truth here is, that in moderation, there is no real harm that any of these sweeteners can have on your body. But that’s the thing- we’re talking MODERATION. Use whatever sugar or sweetener you want, but pay attention to how often you are using them. Are you loading your coffee or tea with sugar and sweetened milk or almond milk? Are you adding a crapload of honey to your oats, or are you buying pre-packaged oats with a bunch of sweetener in there?

The best advice I can give you is to pay close attention to the ingredients in your go-to foods. Is your favorite protein bar, or protein powder loaded with sugar? Does it have more than 8 ingredients? Chances are if it does, it has more than one type of sweetener in it.

Sugar may not be created equal, but your body deals with it all the same.

Not sure where to start?

-Try swapping out sweetened milk or almond milk (or whatever creamers you put in your coffee or tea) for the unsweetened version.

-Look for a protein powder (or protein bar) with fewer ingredients and less sugar.

Then take note of how your body feels. You may really like how you feel, or you may not even notice- and that’s okay! No harm done in experimenting :)

Want more guidance on how to achieve your goals?

Email us at coaching@thewca.fit