Everyone knows too much sugar is bad for them. But did you know that sugar actually plays an important role in our body? Technically, sugar is a carbohydrate and energy source when it’s included in our diet. There are several different kinds though, like glucose, fructose, lactose and sucrose. In order to avoid the health problems that can stem from eating too much sugar, it’s important to be able to make the distinction between ‘good’ and ‘bad’.
Sugar is usually used as a word to describe sweet, processed food, but it can actually be found in most foods and beverages. Sugar occurs naturally in things like fruit, vegetables, honey and dairy, while it’s added to other things like bread, cakes, yogurt, pies, muesli bars, snack foods and more.
While it can be part of a healthy diet if it’s eaten in moderation, most people err on the side of overindulgence. And if you’re one of those people who think they eat too much sugar, how can you tell? Here are the 10 most obvious signs you’re eating too much of the sweet stuff.
1. Weight Gain
Weight gain is likely to be one of the first and most obvious signs that you’re eating too much sugar. This is because sugar is uniquely fattening to the human body. It’s composed of two molecules – glucose and fructose. Glucose can be made from our bodies, and when it’s ingested it’s metabolized by every cell in our body and turned into energy. Fructose, however, can only be metabolized by the liver.
While healthy, active individuals are able to ingest and metabolize fructose easily because their liver turns it into glycogen – a large molecule that enables our body to store glucose for later use – the majority of us already have enough glycogen in our livers, and our bodies turn the fructose into fat instead.
It’s important to note that all fructose isn’t inherently ‘evil’, even though it might sound like it. Fructose is harmful only in excess. Eating small amounts of fructose when it’s found in fruit will not cause harm, unless you’ve been advised by healthcare professionals to minimize your fruit intake or you are a diabetic.
If you notice you’re gaining too much weight, it’s important to take steps to reverse it. Substitute processed food for real foods like fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein, limit foods that contain sodium (salt), cut out all sugary beverages like energy drinks and sodas, and aim to get enough exercise like talking a half an hour walk before dinner. The aerobic activity will increase your metabolism and motivation, making you less likely to have seconds or thirds with dinner and more likely to go for a walk again the next day.