By Samantha Copeland
The Post Newspaper Fitness Writer
Sweet treats and sugary snacks are always in abundance this time of year, so let’s break down how the body needs and uses sugar to function at its best.
Glucose and fructose (simple sugars) are the building blocks of carbohydrates that are found naturally in whole foods like fruit, honey, and starchy vegetables. Although they can contain varying amounts, all whole foods naturally contain a combination of both these simple sugars.
Glucose and fructose are also found in processed foods, but often in their refined, isolated forms (high-fructose corn syrup). The difference between the naturally-occurring and the highly-processed sugars is that processed foods lose most of the nutritional density but leave all the calories. This is the reason why processed foods high in sugar have the reputation of being bad for your health.
The body breaks down refined sugars more rapidly, which causes insulin and blood sugar levels to rise. Furthermore, since it has been void of nutrients, you experience a rapid energy burst followed by reactive hypoglycemia (aka, the dreaded “sugar crash”). The opposite of this is natural sources of sugar received from nutrient dense foods such as fruits, vegetables and carbohydrates. These foods are digested slower, helps you feel full for longer and helps keep your metabolism stable. Naturally derived sugars are essential for providing energy to your muscles, brain and nervous system, along with metabolizing fats that prevent the body from using protein as an energy substitute. The body does not respond the same way to artificial, refined and added sugars.
To achieve better nutrition and overall health, choose nutrient-dense sugars that are found in foods naturally. Having the mindset of eliminating carbs and sugars while increasing workouts to achieve fitness goals will deplete the body of nutrients obtained, leave you feeling fatigued and more than likely irritable.
If you have a sweet tooth you might be surprised how your body is more satisfied when you trade out a candy bar for sweet fruits instead.
Signs you may not be getting enough simple sugars include:
- Low Energy Levels
- Hair Loss
- Constant Hunger
- Problems Trying to Get Pregnant
- Sleep Issues
- Feeling Cold All the Time
- Lack of coordination
Samantha Copeland is the owner of Texas City’s Yoga on 6th With Sam. She has an extensive background as a licensed therapist, fitness coach, personal trainer and yoga instructor. Ms. Copeland follows a simple and holistic approach of staying in balance mentally, physically, and spiritually.