Sugar is a form of carbohydrate that contains no other nutrients. Sugar is rapidly absorbed, and large amounts cause a surge and then subsequent decline in blood glucose. High sugar consumption can play havoc with your insulin levels. Yo-yo like insulin levels switch off the fat burning process and destroys the anabolic hormone cascade that supports muscle growth. This aspect alone will kneecap your ability to build muscle and lose fat.
All in all sugar intake should be kept to a minimum, but blaming sugar on promoting fat gain is not looking at the complete picture.
Calorie balance is what determines whether a person gains or loses fat. If you take in more calories (in any form) than you burn, eventually you’ll gain excess weight in the form of body fat. Consumption of sugar-laden foods appears not to satisfy hunger, and this makes it easier for a person to overeat and consume excess calories. Eating high-sugar foods increases cravings for more high-sugar foods. It can start a vicious cycle. And as you can see by the ever-increasing obesity rate, many people have become locked in this cycle.
As an athlete, a diet high in protein, moderate in good fats, and low in simple carbohydrates (sugar) is the best approach for building muscle and staying lean. And after working with thousands of athletes over the years, one thing is very clear, almost all of them tend to overestimate their protein intake and underestimate their fat and sugar intake.
I’ve seen this time and time again. In fact, one study showed athletes overestimate their protein intake an average of 30% while underestimating their sugar intake by 35% and fat intake by 20%.
Write it Down
The best way to get control of your food intake is to honestly know what and more importantly, how much of each macronutrient you are eating. Write it down and make sure it’s accurate. You have to know where you are at to know where to go. Once you know your actual food intake, you can then make adjustments accordingly, but accuracy is all important. Also, writing down everything you eat will help you make better food choices and will help you build a solid foundation of nutritional knowledge.
There are computer and smartphone apps that make this very easy to do. Find one that you like, and then make it a habit of logging everything you eat and drink. After a few weeks, you’ll be able to detail and analyze your nutrition intake accurately.