10 Myths About Sugar, Debunked
Sugar is really bad for you.
Yet a lot of what we now know was long hidden from the public. We’re not talking about conspiracy theories: research has proven that powerful lobbyists kept information about the danger of sugar hidden, and dictated national nutritional policies that sugar-coated its harmful effects.
In the last few years, more and more information has come out about the health effects of sugar, but many myths about sugar still remain. Here are 10 sugar myths that you need to let go of, and the truths that will motivate you to truly embrace a low-sugar lifestyle.
Myth: Sugar gives you a boost of energy.
Truth: Eating sugar will make you feel tired and less alert.
We’re all familiar with the idea of a sugar rush. Even if we’re honest about the inevitable crash, most people believe that sugar will give you a temporary boost in energy and mood. However, a new study found this is a myth. People who eat sugar start feeling more tired and foggy-minded within half an hour. Professor Elizabeth Maylor, who worked on the study, said the idea of a sugar rush is dangerous because it makes people consume extra sugar for no reason, and it’s deceptive because, “if anything, sugar will probably make you feel worse.”
Myth: Artificial sugars are a good substitute.
Truth: Fake sugar can contribute to weight gain and increase cravings.
If you’re simply counting calories, choosing artificial sweeteners can seem like a good choice. However, research shows that this short-term decision can be harmful in the long run. That’s because artificial sweeteners have been tied to increased food consumption and shown to slow metabolism. Rather than relying on chemical sweeteners, retrain your taste buds to enjoy foods that are less sweet.
Myth: Natural sugars are better for you.
Truth: Your body processes all sugars the same way.
Many people who are health-conscious turn to natural sweeteners like agave, coconut sugar, maple syrup, or brown sugar, rather than eating refined, processed sugar. The problem is, the body responds to all sugars in the same way. If you want to be as healthy as possible you’ll want to skip all sweeteners—even the natural ones.
Myth: Your body needs sugar for fuel.
Truth: Your body needs some carbohydrates, but not sugar.
As your body metabolizes the foods that you eat, it breaks carbohydrates down into sugars that are needed to support bodily functions. But that doesn’t mean that you need to eat sugar to survive. Instead, your body can take the carbohydrates found in vegetables, fruits, and other healthy foods and convert those into the sugars it needs.
Myth: I’m in control of my sugar intake.
Truth: Many people are genetically predisposed to crave sweets.
We all like to think we’re in control over our behaviors and habits, but the truth is some of us have to fight harder than others to maintain a low-sugar lifestyle. One twin study found that genes control our perception of sweetness and therefore make certain people more or less likely to consume more than the recommended daily amount of sugar.
Myth: A calorie is a calorie.
Truth: Some calories are healthier than others.
Nutritionists once thought that maintaining a healthy weight was only a matter of calories in versus calories out. However, researchers now know that not all calories are created equal: 100 calories of eggs, for example, is much healthier than a 100-calorie snack pack of processed food. There are many reasons for this, including that some foods keep you feeling full for longer, and that it takes more energy for your body to burn protein than it does for it to burn carbs or sugars. So skip the sugar and opt for foods that will nurture your body and keep you feeling satisfied.
Myth: I don’t eat a lot of sugary foods.
Truth: Sugar is hidden everywhere.
If you don’t drink soda or eat cookies, you might think you’re already leading a low-sugar lifestyle, but think again. In America especially, hidden sugar is everywhere. Yogurts that are marketed as healthy can have up to 19 grams of sugar in a single serving. Some whole-wheat breads contain 7 grams per slice! Even spaghetti sauce is loaded with up to 9 grams of sugar per ½ cup.
Myth: Fruit juice is healthy.
Truth: It’s just not.
Many people—and outdated nutritional policies —talk about the health benefits of juice, but there simply aren’t many. Fruit juice is essentially pure sugar, with many of the beneficial parts of fruit, like fiber, filtered out. If you want a dose of vitamins and minerals, eat a piece of whole fruit rather than juice: your body will process it differently and absorb more of the good stuff. And remember: kids don’t need juice. Teach them young to drink water instead.
Myth: Better to eat sugar than fat.
Truth: Sugar is linked to heart disease.
For years, government policy pushed low-fat foods, which often used added sugar to make them taste better. However, this was because the sugar lobby was dictating policy. Research shows that sugar is more addictive than fat, so people are more likely to overeat it, leading to a host of damaging health effects, including heart disease. You’re much better off eating full-fat whole foods than processed foods packed with sugar.
Myth: I can have just one bite.
Truth: Eating sweet foods kickstarts cravings.
It would really be great to be able to eat just one piece of chocolate or one cookie without going back for more. However, biology makes that almost impossible. Science shows that the more sugar you eat, the more cravings you have. That’s because eating sugar activates the brain’s reward system, leaving you wanting more and more.
It’s time that we acknowledge the truth about sugar: It doesn’t make us feel better, it has no health benefits, and really, it doesn’t even taste all that great once you retrain your taste buds. To get started on your low-sugar lifestyle, learn more about Sweet Defeat, which stops cravings in seconds.