If you look around the web these days, you'll often see a lot of forums devoted to being anti-sugar. If you're in a bookstore and browse the health section books, you'll likely see several books devoted to revamping your diet to be void of all sugar. But why? What is society's beef with sugar, anyway? The truth is, that there are some sugars that are good for you. In fact, there are some sugars that you need in order to properly recover while training with hard workouts.
What are the different kinds of sugar? Let's start with the basics. Not all sugar is created equal and so we want to review with you what each kind of sugar is and where it comes from.
- Fructose: This is the natural sugar that is found in fruits. Each time you eat an apple or sprinkle some berries on top of yogurt, you're treating yourself to a lovely dose of fructose.
- Lactose: This is the kind of sugar that comes from milk products. Whether you're drinking milk or eating cheese or yogurt, the sugar occurring in these items comes from lactose.
- Sucrose: This is your general white table sugar. Raw sugar isn't white like this is. The reason this sugar is white is because it's been processed. This is the type of sugar that is considered bad because it spikes your insulin levels. When people talk about sugar being a leading cause of Type 2 Diabetes, this is the kind they're referencing. Each of these sugars is considered simple sugars or simple carbohydrates. Fructose is a monosaccharide, meaning it contains one molecule of sugar. Lactose and sucrose however, are disaccharides, meaning they contain two molecules.
So, are they bad to consume? The short answer to this is no, but like everything, it's best to be conscious and consume sugars in moderation. We advise people to stay away from processed sugar, like sucrose. However, natural simple sugars that come from fruit or milk products, fructose, and lactose, are perfectly safe to consume, and you need them.
Wait, I need sugar? Yes, I know. It's hard to believe. But, your body needs sugar, especially if you're training and weight lifting. We've talked before about pre and post-workout nutrition and how protein and carbohydrates are important. Most people think of carbohydrates and sugar as two different things but really they are one in the same. Remember, simple carbohydrates are simple sugars. When you work out, you're using up your body's glycogen, or stored energy, that your body has worked to keep aside for when it's needed. The way that you obtain that energy is to eat simple sugars. Because we want to make sure we've always got some energy in storage, it's smart to eat something with sugar (or carbs) before your workout to prepare your body. But after your workout, you've used up a lot of that energy. After a workout do you ever notice that you feel a bit light-headed? This is because your body's glycemic index is low. Everyone's body reacts differently to amounts of sugar, but that's why it's a good idea to include some sugar with your post-workout snack or meal with your protein—so you control your insulin levels.
Head to the Farmer's Market Because summertime has arrived, it's a great time to take advantage of natural sugars and incorporate more fruits into our diets and pre and post-workout regimented snacks. Here's a list of what's in season. Of course you can't always get fresh fruit to fit sugar into your diet post-workout and if that's the case, try taking a Promax bar with you on the go. If you can take advantage of fresh fruits though, we encourage you to try mixing up your routine by adding some new things you haven't tried before.