Hi guys,  Kris from Custom Fitness here, your personal trainer in Amarillo.  I am sure you’ve seen the phrase plastered all over your favorite products, “SUGAR-FREE!!!”  Is that some gold standard we should be following? Should you refocus your health efforts to be sugar-free?  Today we’ll take a look at just that.  If you have questions about today’s blog or would like nutrition information tailored to your lifestyle to achieve your goals, give us a call: 806-322-3188.

Dropping everything to pursue the sugar-free life is not the end all be all to get where you want to be. Sugar-free foods, treats, and candies may not contain sugar, but they do have a sugar synthetic. Stevia or Splenda are some common sweeteners that are not labeled as sugar often found in sugar-free products.

Your body doesn’t know the difference between real and fake sugar. If real sugar enters your body and it isn’t burned off, your body will look for a place to store it as fat and in the meantime affect your blood sugar. Granted, there are numerous places for your body to store sugar, but the favorite is in the fat cells.  Eating some fake sugar  and the body will process it the same way: can’t burn it off?  Gotta add a little more fluff to those thighs or tush or hips. Choosing healthy foods comes from consuming the nutrition your body needs, not so much the marketing gimmicks they put on the front of boxes.  

Regardless of if your candy is real or synthetic sugar, you are not getting a nutritional benefit from either. Sugar-free in the case of candy can actually cause more damage to your body than bonafide sugar.  Since the 1970’s there has been a big stir in the media about sweeteners like Aspartame.  This is one of the most common sweeteners on the market. It is usually sold under the name Nutra-Sweet or Equal. It has never been safe for human consumption beyond 50 mg/kg of body weight due to the chemical toxins released as it is broken down within the system. Previously this additive was put into Diet Coke and received so much negative publicity that Coca-Cola switched to sweetening the drink with Sucralose or Splenda. Scientists are still reviewing the side effects of Splenda, but so far the prognosis is not favorable. If our body doesn’t recognize these sweeteners  as nutritionally beneficial, why are we putting it in our body in the first place?

One of the best examples that I have this is that advertisers can legally label the front of products with whatever phrases they want.  They can say something is sugar-free and then look on the ingredients list to see various types of sugar listed. I guess by excluding one type of sugar they determined it was “sugar-free”…it is tough to wrap your brain around commercial logic, sometimes. One time while I was grocery shopping I saw a bottle of honey labeled sugar-free. They could label it as such because there was no extra sugar added to it.  However, honey is made up primarily of sugar.  Learning to read between the advertising lines is important!   Similarly, as I meandered to the meats section, I saw a ham labeled as gluten-free.  Well, obviously.  Gluten is a wheat byproduct. Ham rarely contains gluten unless it is dusted with flour or something.  Next time you head to the grocery store, see what contradictory or obviously-not kind of labels you can find. It eventually becomes a game. 

The American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association encourage sparing (if any) use of sweeteners. Sugar has been linked to obesity, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, and obviously diabetes. Folks who depend heavily on artificial or natural sugars to boost the flavor of things, may seek out other, heftier, calories when trying to go “sugar-free”.  This could cause them to actually increase their weight instead of losing it. People like to pretend that they are doing themselves a great services if they are going the sugar-free route, “I’d like a big mac, extra large fry, and a diet coke…ohhh an an apple pie; I deserve it. I’m not drinking a real  coke.”  Over stimulating your sweetener receptors in your brain can actually cause you to avoid eating more healthy and filling foods. The sweeteners will alter your perception of taste. This can lead to a lot of dissatisfaction with more nutritious meals and beckon for the artificially flavored, calorie packed foods it is used to.

As a personal trainer in Amarillo, I have all sorts of people come to me with a goal of losing weight or finding better health, but they still want to keep X amount of sugar in their diet.  That’s their choice. Remember, though, sugar is something that the less you have of it the more your body will work in your favor.   That will give you less faux-energy and less blood sugar spikes. As you ingest less sugar, even natural sources like fruit or starchy carbs, try and pair it with a protein source or with some vegetables (ideally both!), the blood sugar won’t spike as high. This will keep your energy stable throughout the day and provide you a with a more restful sleep at night.   

When you are on the fence about if you should or shouldn’t go with that specific sugar or sweetened product, try instead to focus on the other sources of nutrition you are neglecting and remove sugar from the picture.

If you would like more help with your diet or nutrition, developing an exercise plan, or how to quiet that voice begging you for sugar, we are here to help create a comprehensive, customized plan for you. We offer private, semi-private, and small group personal training.  but we offer customization in our private and semi-private that can’t be beat in Amarillo. You will receive everything you need to succeed including a support system.  A majority of our clients begin seeing results in the first two weeks. Interested? Touch base with us by calling 806-322-3188 or e-mail info@customfitness.biz. At Custom Fitness, we are YOUR personal trainers in Amarillo.  Have a great day!