- Glucose is the main sugar that our body uses for energy, found in fruits and veggies. It is the easiest sugar for your body to use and excess glucose is stored as fat. It is the fastest way for sugar to enter your blood and give you energy. It cannot be used immediately and undergoes chemical changes by being processed in the liver and being distributed throughout the body for energy. When your body experiences high blood sugar, your body releases insulin which tells your cells to store the extra energy as fat.
- Fructose is the sugar found in fruit and vegetables, like glucose. All fruits and vegetables have some fructose and some glucose- some have more fructose like pears while others have more glucose like corn. The ratio is what makes some more fattening than others.
- Sucorse is table sugar, made from one of fructose with one molecule of glucose. When you consume sucrose, the molecules split, and the glucose is used by your body for energy and the fructose is sent to your liver for processing.
- Lactose is the sugar found in dairy products.
A starch is a complex carbohydrate (wheat, bread, pasta, cake, cereal) that plants use to store energy, comprised of a chain of glucose molecules stored together. Since they don’t taste sweet we don’t think of them as sugar, though they absolutely are. When we eat starches, the string of simple sugars is broken and the molecules hit our blood stream, causing a quick rise in blood sugar. Unlike fructose, all of these glucose molecules flood your system with sugar. When you consume too much glucose from starches (which are chains of glucose, rather than simple molecules) your body releases insulin which causes you to reserve that extra “fuel” as fat since it cannot all be utilized by your body. This is why white bread is going to spike your blood sugar more than candy or soda, since it is comprised of a string of glucose.
The Glycemic Index shows how long certain foods take to become metabolized on a scale from 0 which is no sugar to 100 which is pure sugar.
- Broccoli: 15
- Apple: 38
- Snickers: 40
- Orange: 44
- Banana: 51
- Coke: 58
- White Bread: 71
- Potato Chips: 75
- Corn Flakes: 83
- Fruit Rolls up: 99
Notice how soda is lower on the glycemic index than corn flakes or fruit-rolls ups. This is because sucrose even has some fructose molecules in it while very starchy foods like pasta and bread are essentially pure glucose, meaning 100% sugar. Now it’s important to look at the combination of sugars in each ingredient to decide whether it is healthy. A banana may have a higher Glycemic Index than a Snickers Bar, but it contains fiber which will take the body a longer time to metabolize it, causing less of a spike in blood sugar level, hence less fat storage. This is why you should not avoid fruits because your body uses fiber to slow down the processing of sugars!
The reason why a Snickers bar is lower on the Glycemic Index scale than white bread because it contains a small amount of protein from the peanuts which makes your body metabolize the sugar slower. This is why it’s crucial to get your protein in at every meal! Think peanut butter and bananas or almond butter and apples.
Now you can’t completely avoid glucose because our bodies depend on it for energy but if you are overweight, you are probably consuming too much glucose and not enough fiber and protein.
We can prevent weight gain by:
- Preventing insulin increases into the blood stream by eating foods low on the Glycemic Index
- Increase our consumption of fiber and protein, while reducing our consumption of glucose
- Eating more fruits and vegetables
- Expending more energy than we burn so we burn glucose before it is stored onto our body as fat.
- Weight training: the more muscle you have, the more glucose your body needs just to operate.
And remember, just because it doesn’t taste sweet doesn’t mean it’s not full of sugar! If you’re avoiding the cupcakes, avoid any and all white starches!