10 Ways Sugar is Making You Fat and Cranky

  1. Sugar causes your insulin to spike. Insulin is a hormone produced by your body to handle blood sugar (glucose). It directs glucose out of the bloodstream and into your cells to be immediately used as energy. We don’t have the capacity to store excess glucose so if unused for energy, the surplus gets converted and stored as fat. Additionally, when insulin rises, your body’s fat burning processes shut down. Frequent insulin spikes eventually lead to insulin resistance where higher levels of insulin are required to deal with your blood sugar.
  2. Sugar increases production of the stress hormone cortisol. The “down” following this spike in insulin puts your body into panic mode. Even if you don’t perceive it as stressful your body does, and this fight or flight state triggers the production of cortisol. Cortisol further decreases your metabolism, causes your body to store fat (usually around the abdomen) and increases your appetite.
  3. Sugar messes up your cholesterol. Though it has been incorrectly blamed as the culprit for heart disease, your body actually needs dietary cholesterol. The problem arises when continual insulin spikes create inflammation through the body preventing the cholesterol from moving around freely. The cholesterol becomes trapped in the walls of your blood vessels setting the stage for heart disease and stroke. Statin drugs come with a host of side effects and they only lower the production of cholesterol, they don’t fix the inflammation.
  4. Sugar suppresses your immune system. No exercise and weight loss goals are going to be achieved when your immune system isn’t functioning. Think flu season is due to cold weather? Think again… it starts with Halloween and is followed by months of holidays where we over-sugar ourselves. Seasonal allergies? It’s not the allergens that are the problem. It’s your immune system’s overreaction to them.
  5. Sugar is addictive. It stimulates the same parts of the brain as heroin and cocaine giving you a temporary high similar to that of a drug addict. The consequent “sugar crash” leaves you feeling tired, irritable, distracted and craving another fix. Getting off sugar leads to similar withdrawal symptoms as getting off hard-core drugs.
  6. Willpower doesn’t work when it comes to sugar. Willpower is limited in supply and will run out for everyone. The fittest people do not have good willpower – they have strategies. Because sugar is addictive you need a plan before the craving kicks in, and you need to adjust your diet so that cravings are not a regular occurrence. The craving for sugar is a signal that something is missing in your body. Relying on willpower will leave you distracted, cranky and in a position where you will eventually cave.
  7. Counting calories for weight loss does not work if those calories consist of sugar. Food is a lot more than just calories… it is information that your body uses to turn on and off the processes that lead to weight loss and good health. Even if you are consuming fewer calories, if they are empty and consist of sugar you will struggle to reach your goals.
  8. You are probably eating more sugar than you think you are. It’s hiding in many of your “non-sugar” foods – yogurt, tomato sauce, salad dressings, nut butters, pretzels and whole grain products. Read the labels on the back, not the claims on the front. And remember – sugar is sugar. “Organic real cane juice” might sound nice, but there is no healthy sugar. Even fruits may be contributing to your resistant belly fat. Though they are packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants they also contain fructose, a simple sugar that ends up in the same fat cells if not used for energy. Get your carbohydrates from vegetables and minimize the fruit.
  9. Artificial sweeteners aren’t exactly “sugar-free.” Alternatives like stevia, aspartame, and sugar alcohols provide a quick fix – often in the form of protein powders and energy bars – without the actual sugar, but they fool your brain into thinking you are getting something sweet. This disrupts the hormonal and neurological signals that cause you to feel full and satisfied and plays tricks on your metabolism.
  10. You can’t exercise off an over-indulgence of sugar. Having a regular exercise regimen does provide you with a little wiggle room and can help to use up that extra glucose as well as re-focus your appetite. But regular over-indulging followed by exercise is an unhealthy cycle for your body – both physically and mentally. Know that there will be occasions when you splurge. Don’t beat yourself up over this. Get right back on track with your plan and understand that you your health and body fat are determined not by a single meal, but by your long-term habits.