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Sugar Smarts – Part 1

When I finished graduate school and became a nutritionist, fat grams were public enemy #1. Despite my advice to add healthy fats, most of my clients wouldn’t touch nuts or oil and lived off of fat free cookies and candies. One told me she ate a salad with fat free dressing (no protein) and an entire French baguette for dinner each night. She wasn’t worried about carbs because in her mind, it was fat that made you fat. Fortunately the fat phobic fad is history, but healthy conscious shoppers are still unsure about sugar. Last week a new client told me he had banished fruit because it’s too fattening (in his mind sugar equals body fat). The good news is that just like fat, not all sugar is created equal, and you don’t need to abolish every speck. Here’s one reason why:


It’s All About Balance


If you eat a handful of jelly beans or licorice by itself, you’ll absorb it quickly, which means all that sugar will rush into your blood stream. That’s a recipe for waistline disaster for two reasons: 1) you won’t stay full for very long, despite eating a lot of calories (just 8 Twizzlers pack 320 calories) and 2) a surge in blood sugar causes insulin to be released, which clears it from your blood – and if you can’t burn all those calories at that time, the excess gets socked away in your fat cells.


But, eat a small amount of sugar along with high fiber whole grains, lean protein and good-for-you fat, and you’ll get an entirely different result. Fiber, protein and fat all slow down how quickly sugar is absorbed, creating a lower and slower, more “time released” increase in your blood sugar over a longer period of time. That means you stay fuller longer, have more hours to burn off the calories and you won’t get hungry again as quickly.


Bottom line: if you have to satisfy your sweet tooth, you’re better off with a few hundred calories worth of something like an oatmeal cookie or a small portion dark chocolate covered almonds versus gummy candy or sweet tarts. 


Have you noticed the difference? Please share and come back tomorrow for part 2!


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