4 Ways Sugar Makes You Fat (Perfect Recipe For a Fat Gain Disaster)

Woman Eating Chocolate CakeDifferent foods affect the body in different ways and sugar is uniquely fattening.

Sugar (sucrose) and high fructose corn syrup contain two molecules: glucose and fructose.

Glucose is absolutely vital to life and is an integral part of our metabolism. Our bodies produce it and we have a constant reservoir of it in the bloodstream.

Every cell in the body can use glucose for energy. If we don’t get glucose from the diet, our bodies produce what we need out of proteins and fats.

Fructose, however, is very different. This molecule is not a natural part of metabolism and humans do not produce it.

In fact, very few cells in the body can make use of it except liver cells.

When we eat a lot of sugar, most of the fructose gets metabolized by the liver. There it gets turned into fat, which is then secreted into the blood.

1. Fructose Causes Insulin Resistance

Junk Food

Have you ever heard of the hormone Insulin?

It is one of the key hormones that regulate human metabolism and energy use.

Insulin is secreted by the pancreas, then travels in the blood to peripheral cells like muscle cells.

Insulin sends a signal to these cells that they should put transporters for glucose onto their surface, thereby allowing glucose to get into the cells where it can be used.

When we eat a high carb meal, glucose levels go up. Excess glucose is toxic so insulin rapidly goes up in order to get the glucose out of the bloodstream and into the cells.

If we didn’t have insulin or it wasn’t functioning correctly, blood glucose would reach toxic levels.

In healthy people, this mechanism works very well and enables us to eat meals that are high in carbohydrates without our blood glucose going out of whack.

However this mechanism tends to break. Cells become resistant to the effects of insulin, which makes the pancreas have to secrete even more to drive the glucose into the cells.

Basically, when you become insulin resistant, you will have more insulin in your blood all the time (until the entire thing breaks and leads to type II diabetes… which can happen eventually).

But insulin also has other functions. One of them is sending signals to our fat cells. Insulin tells the fat cells to pick up fat from the bloodstream, store it and to avoid burning the fat that they already carry.

When insulin levels are chronically elevated, much of the energy in our bloodstream gets selectively deposited in the fat cells and stored.

Excess fructose consumption is a known cause of insulin resistance and elevated insulin levels in the blood (1, 2).

When this happens, the body has a hard time accessing the stored fat and the brain starts to think that it is hungry. Then we eat more.

Mechanism #1 of sugar-induced fat gain: Eating a lot of sugar chronically raises insulin levels in the blood, which selectively deposits energy from foods into fat cells.

2. Fructose Causes Resistance to a Hormone Called Leptin

Woman Stuffing Herself With Cake

Fructose also causes weight gain by its effects on a hormone called leptin.

Leptin is secreted by fat cells. The bigger the fat cells, the more leptin they secrete. This is the signal your brain uses to determine how much fat it has stored for a rainy day.

When we eat food, some of it gets stored in the fat cells. This makes the fat cells get bigger and secrete more leptin.

When the brain senses the increased leptin, it “sees” that we have enough fat stored and that we don’t need to eat.

This is the elegant mechanism designed by nature to make us stop being hungry and eat less when there is plenty of fat in the our fat cells, which is supposed to prevent us from becoming obese.

More fat = more leptin = we have enough energy = don’t need to eat. Simple.

Increased leptin also makes us release more fat from our fat stores and raises the metabolic rate.

This is how it’s supposed to work, but if the brain becomes resistant to leptin (doesn’t “see” the leptin in the blood) then this regulatory process won’t work.

If the brain doesn’t see the leptin, it won’t know that the fat cells are full and there won’t be any signal to tell the brain that it needs to stop eating.

Low leptin = don’t have enough energy stored = need to eat more and burn less.

This is how leptin resistance makes us fat. The brain thinks that the body is starving and makes us eat more and burn less.

Trying to exert “willpower” over the powerful leptin-driven starvation signal is next to impossible. This is why most people can’t just simply “eat less, move more” and live happily ever after.

In order to be able to eat less, we have to get rid of the leptin resistance, so that our brain “sees” all the fat that we have stored.

A high fructose diet can cause leptin resistance. One of the mechanisms is that fructose raises levels of triglycerides in the blood, which blocks the transport of leptin from the blood and into the brain (3, 4).

This is how excess sugar throws body fat regulation out of whack, making the brain think that it needs to keep eating.

Mechanism #2: Fructose makes the brain leptin resistant, which means that the brain doesn’t “see” all the stored fat in the body and thinks that it is starving. This causes a powerful leptin-induced biochemical drive to keep eating even when we don’t need to.

3. Fructose Does Not Induce Satiety in The Same Way as Glucose

Boy Eating Ice Cream

The way the body and brain regulate food intake is extremely complex and involves multiple hormones and neural circuits.

There is a region in the brain called the hypothalamus, where all of these signals are interpreted.

This is where leptin (discussed above) functions in the brain, along with various neurons and other hormones.

A relatively new study published in 2013 examined the effects of fructose vs. glucose on satiety and food intake (5).

They gave 20 healthy volunteers either a glucose-sweetened drink or a fructose-sweetend drink, scanned their brains and asked them a bunch of questions.

It turned out that the glucose drink lowered blood flow and activity in the hypothalamus (where food intake is controlled) while the fructose drink did not.

The glucose drinkers felt less hungry and more satiated compared to the fructose drinkers, who didn’t feel satisfied at all and were still somewhat hungry.

This implies that the fructose-sweetened drink, despite having the same calories as the glucose drink, did NOT increase satiety as much.

Another important hormone is called ghrelin, the “hunger” hormone. The more ghrelin, the more hungry we feel.

Another study showed that fructose did not reduce blood levels of ghrelin nearly as much as glucose did (6).

These studies suggest that fructose does not make you feel full after a meal in the same way as glucose, even with the exact same number of calories.

Mechanism #3: Fructose does not make you feel full after a meal in the same way as glucose, which leads to an increase in overall calorie intake.

4. Sugar Makes You Addicted

Sugar causes opiate and dopamine activity in the reward centers of the brain, just like other drugs of abuse like cocaine (7).

Woman Snorting Doughnuts

In a large review paper published in 2008 in the journal of Neuroscience & Biobehavioural Reviews, researchers examined the evidence for the addictive potential of sugar (8).

These studies were done in rats, which are good representatives of humans because they become addicted to abusive drugs in the same way as we do.

A quote from the study:

“The reviewed evidence supports the theory that, in some circumstances, intermittent access to sugar can lead to behavior and neurochemical changes that resemble the effects of a substance of abuse.”

The evidence is very strong for sugar being downright addictive. It makes perfect sense given that it affects the same neural pathways as drugs of abuse.

Eating sugar gives us “pleasure” and releases opiates and dopamine in the reward system of the brain, specifically in an area called the Nucleus Accumbens (9). These are the same areas stimulated by drugs of abuse like nicotine and cocaine.

For certain individuals with a certain predisposition, this can lead to full blown addiction.

Individuals that get strong cravings for sugar and are unable to quit or reduce their consumption despite negative physical consequences (such as weight gain) are sugar addicts.

Mechanism #4: Sugar, due to its powerful effects on the reward system in the brain, leads to classic signs of addiction comparable to drugs of abuse. This activates powerful reward-seeking behavior that can drive overeating.

The Perfect Recipe For a Fat Gain Disaster

Overweight Man Eating Cake

Okay, so let‘s take a step back and review what we have covered about fructose and fat gain.

  1. Fructose causes insulin resistance and raises insulin levels in the body, which increases the deposition of fat in the fat cells.
  2. Fructose causes resistance to a hormone called leptin, which makes the brain not “see” that the fat cells are full of fat. This leads to increased food intake and decreased fat burning.
  3. Fructose does not make you feel satiated after meals. It does not lower levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin and it doesn’t reduce blood flow in the centers of the brain that control appetite. This increases overall food intake.
  4. Sugar, with its powerful impact on the reward system, causes addiction in certain individuals. This activates powerful reward-seeking behavior that also increases food intake.

So… excess fructose consumption dysregulates short-term energy balance on a meal-to-meal basis AND throws long-term energy balance out of whack.

The more sugar you eat and the longer this process is allowed to continue, the more powerful it becomes. Insulin and leptin resistance increase over time and the reward-seeking behavior becomes stronger.

This way, sugar sets up an extremely powerful biochemical drive to make you eat more, burn less and get fat. Trying to exert willpower over this powerful drive can be next to impossible.

I’d like to point out that this does NOT apply to fruits, which are real foods with fiber and a low energy density. Fruits are a relatively minor source of fructose in the diet.

Sugar Goes Way Beyond Empty Calories

Some people still think sugar is just “empty” calories.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Empty calories are just the tip of the iceberg, sugar is a leading cause of obesity by its powerful effects on hormones and the brain.

59 Comments

  1. “I’d like to point out that this does NOT apply to fruits, which are real foods with fiber and a low energy density. Fruits are a relatively minor source of fructose in the diet.”

    I think low carbers are afraid to criticize fruits because “everyone knows they are good for you”. But in my personal N=1 experience, higher glycemic fruits make me ravenous and cause blood glucose spikes followed by hypoglycemia. The fiber didn’t seem to slow this down one bit for me, and the suggestion to replace dietary fat with “healthy fruits” in conventional diets was an exercise in immediate failure for me. Nobody talks about this, but I’m certain my experience isn’t unique.

    I’m OK with SMALL amounts of low glycemic fruits like berries and melon IF they are eaten with plenty of fat (ie berries and cream, melon with a regular meal). But eaten alone, even low glycemic fruits are still a problem for me.

    It may depend on an individual’s metabolic issues, but for me whole natural fruits are as problematic as a processed food loaded with HFCS.

    • Gary Green says:

      Sugar is Sugar. It doesn’t matter if it comes from a fruit or a factory. “Real Food” is not different from ….. what? Fake Food? The body breaks it all down into glucose. Got sugar – Get fat. That’s how it works.

      • Heather Breese says:

        Honey was man’s natural sweetner for thousands of years, until he discovered how to make a cheaper artificial sweetener – sugar. For this discovery man has paid with more suffering in terms of ill health than for any other of his attempts to improve on nature.

      • Charles says:

        Fruit in its whole is way different than that of refined sugar.
        If you eat sugar and run – you will have energy for while.
        If you eat fruit then run you have energy for longer.
        Try out and see.

        Thanks.

      • Have you seen Durianrider’s videos on TouTube? He puts his blood tests on there and he and his girlfriend Freelee are lean… I mean very lean and very fit.

        They eat a lot of fruit and include sugar, but hardly any fat. What I have seen up to now is very impressive. I’ve read all the stuff in this article and also looked into AGEs (advanced glycation end products). But… I see these unfit people on Paleo and Atkins diets and these VERY fit athletic people eating 30 bananas a day. I would love this to be explained to me.

        • There are many very fit paleo people and many unfit, obese vegans. This really doesn’t prove anything either way.

          I’m glad that Durianrider has found something that works well for him. But I’m pretty sure eating so many bananas at the expense of other, more nutritious foods is a bad idea for most people.

          • Justin White says:

            Show me all these obese vegans. Oh that’s right you cannot. National averages suggest that vegans are statistically the slimmest people out there. Also your pictures are misleading as the sugary foods your models are diving into are also full of fat. Are people getting fat from a chocolate cakes and donuts because of the sugar or the fat? Show me the fat rice eaters and banana eaters? The Chinese are not famous for their obesity and eat lots of carbs.

          • This article is about added sugar, as in table sugar/sucrose or high fructose corn syrup. I never said anything about fruits or starchy whole foods.

      • Actually Gary it does make a difference. The glyceamic load of fruit is low to medium. This means the rate of release of sugar to the blood stream is slow, so there is no major spike in insulin. This is not true for processed foods. The reason fruit does this is that it’s bound up with fibre and takes time to digest.

        Hope that clarifies things.

    • I agree that some people would probably be best off eliminating fruit completely. There is no nutrient in them that you can’t get from other foods.

    • Depends if you are talking about folks low-carbing to avoid starch and sugar, or folks doing keto, then yes, they avoid the fruit.

    • MoonValley says:

      I’ve learned not to eat carbs — any kind of carbs — by themselves. Pair them with a fat or protein to moderate the rate of absorption. I get most of my carbs from fruits and non-starchy veggies, and a few whole grains, legumes, etc. My diet is 35% carbs, and in the last year and a half, I’ve shed 100 pounds. For me, that’s what works.

    • I have the same exact experience like you do… Thanks for saying this so clearly… So, N = 2 :)

      “I think low carbers are afraid to criticize fruits because “everyone knows they are good for you”. But in my personal N=1 experience, higher glycemic fruits make me ravenous and cause blood glucose spikes followed by hypoglycemia. The fiber didn’t seem to slow this down one bit for me, and the suggestion to replace dietary fat with “healthy fruits” in conventional diets was an exercise in immediate failure for me. Nobody talks about this, but I’m certain my experience isn’t unique.”

    • Janknitz… I am with you. To replace dietary fat with fruit is a recipe for weight gain. It’s not just you.

      I have to increase dietary fat, and knock all carbs, even fruit (if not esp. fruit) down to almost nothing, in order to start the fat burning process. I don’t eat processed food, chemicals, frankenfood etc… so I m well aware of how fructose, glucose, fats, and proteins affect my weight, and health in general… aside from the fructose mentioned in this article (which is really HFCS, and another animal completely). To reset the leptin cycle, you have to stop all carbs. There is just no way around that.

  2. Can this be reversed Kris? I’m struggling to keep to a low carb diet. I try every day but the cravings I have are so acute that they affect my mood and make me feel awful.

    I am also scared to keep eating like this because it goes against government guidelines (I’m in the UK).

    I’m truly confused and don’t know what to do.

    Sorry, but I don’t know where to go to for help.

    Michelle

    • Complete abstinence from sugar and gluten was the only thing that worked for me to fix my eating habits. I would have severe cravings and binge eat several times a week. It was ruining both my physical and mental health.

      There is no reason to be afraid of eating low-carb, it has an outstanding safety profile.

      • Thanks for the advice. I’ll keep going and hopefully I will kick the sugars.

      • I’m 16 days into a complete sugar and wheat abstinence “detox”. Like you, I find that consuming any amount of wheat or sugar (but particularly both together) causes me to binge. The only way I’ve been able to get the bingeing under control is complete abstinence.

        In addition, I find artificial sweeteners can cause cravings and induce the same cycle of binge eating. I think my brain chemical “pathways” are so set up for my sugar addiction that even the taste of something sweet can set them off.

        My method for making myself accountable is to keep a whiteboard on the fridge, which I update every morning with the number of days since I broke my diet, and my weight for the current day. This helps when I start cruising the fridge and pantry to look for something to eat. Because I don’t want to admit that I cheated and have to go back to day 0, it keeps me on track.

    • I will echo what Kris says – I am a full-blown recovered food addict. Only complete abstinence from added sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and all forms of flour keep me well. Four years ago I weight 130 pounds more than I do now, and by maintaining abstinence from those kinds of foods am I able to stay well.

      Is it hard? Not at all – not since the first month. Once I got the stuff purged from my system I lost the craving for it. And all the healthy stuff – raw vegetables, raw fruits, whole grains, legumes, etc now tastes wonderful to me. I eat three balanced sensible meals a day at consistent times and have nothing between. Hunger and cravings between meals or at bedtime are a thing of the past. Will-power is not a factor – I don’t need it to eat this way any more.

      As far as fruit goes – I have been eating fruit with each meal, three times a day, since day one of changing the way I eat. I ate fruit the entire time I was losing 130 pounds and I continue to eat fruit now with each of my three meals a day.

      A huge benefit of not eating any form of sugar or artificial sweetener is I now taste sweetness – good natural sweetness – in almost everything I eat to some degree.

      Anyway, very happy I found this article. Well done! I plan to share it with others.

    • why are you worried about the government?

      you are having cravings or feel hungry possibly because you are not getting enough fat.

  3. Great article. I have been on my journey of weight loss since August 2012. I’d got so fat and couldn’t figure out why as I ‘thought’ I ate very healthy…tuna and rice, vegetables and rice, meat and rice, in fact anything and rice. Each day I would have rice and a wholemeal roll, bagels were consumed by the packet…muesli topped with fruit etc…

    I’ve realised now that I was just overloading my body with sugar all day everyday… I’d developed the ‘liver roll’ and I won’t even talk about the size of my arrrrrrr…..you get the picture. My skin was always itchy, and I always looked pale and sick by about 3pm each day, I couldn’t keep my eyes open and would go home after work to sleep. I’d force myself into a 5km run each night and would promptly fill up with rice and salad…

    Fortunately I started reading about insulin and how that works in the body and discovered just what you have mentioned in your article. As a sugar addict, I stopped the carbs, or rather bought my daily intake to around 100g per day, I ditched the fruit (don’t like it anyways). The results have been incredible, I wouldn’t know where to start. The fat is gone, that hard lumpy disgusting looking cellulite has melted off, leaving me with a body that I never thought I’d see again. My skin doesn’t itch, and I look healthy, people don’t say oooh you look sick anymore.

    When I am tired trying not to fill up on sugar can be a mission, and it’s one I will lose each time, but I always have on hand some very dark chocolate, a couple of pieces of that with some nuts will usually stop the cravings in it’s tracks. It’s not easy however, the other day I caught myself staring wistfully at a cafe cabinet full of sticky gooey treats, and wondered if anyone would notice if I crawled inside and devoured all that was there….but I knew that my BG would go through the roof, followed by the powerful BG crash that inevitably happens with a sugar spluge… It’s not fun and like any addict I knew that I could be back on the sugar rollercoaster in a heartbeat.

    Nothing tastes as good as thin feels.

  4. Hey Kris. I have been doing some research on low-carb diets, (in particular how to include enough fiber in the diet, as a vegetarian), and have come across the distinction of usable/nonusable carbs. What the heck does this mean? Can I eat relatively high-carb foods if the “usable” carb count is low, while the fiber count high?
    Many thanks!

    • You can subtract the fiber amount from your total carb intake.

      Net carbs = total carbs – total fiber.

      This is totally legitimate, but I would avoid processed low-carb foods that claim to contain “unusable” carbs.

  5. If this is true how come there is no such thing as an overweight fruitarian?

  6. Hi Kris
    What sugar is in alcohol? Is alcohol fattening because the body burns it before anything else?

    • Depends on the type of alcohol. If there’s sugar added to it, then it contains sugar. The metabolic effects of alcohol are actually very similar to the effects of sugar.

      Drinking alcohol every now and then in moderation is unlikely to do much harm. Doing it every day or drinking large amounts at a time is not a good idea.

    • Alcohol is a carbohydrate/sugar itself. (not all sugars/hydrocarbons are sweet and sugary)

      Most of the alcohol goes to your liver to be processed.
      The liver processed alcohol into energy for your body.
      This uses the same enzyme your body uses to process glucose. When your body is processing alcohol, glucose processing stops to wait for the alcohol processing to be done. Alcohol also slows digestion.

      In of itself alcohol does not need digestion by our bodies, and for most of us humans and the reasons why we drink alcohol we don’t want it all processed, we want a drug effect :) Luckily alcohol is one of the few substances that can enter your bloodstream from your mouth and stomach before ever reaching the intestines and liver. It’s mostly this free alcohol in the bloodstream that gives the effect while the liver is still working on what it gets directly from your digestive system which is the majority of the alcohol consumed.

      So there’s nothing inherently fattening about alcohol except for stopping glucose processing and slowing digestion (just don’t snack when out on the town) many alcoholic drinks are very sweet though and laden with added sugars like table sugar, fructose or even HFCS.

      Alcohol consumption can produce temporary cholesterol spikes but this goes away as fast as the alcohol gets used up and clears out again and really doesn’t matter for the occasional drink.

      Drinking one or 2 glasses of alcohol a week is generally, good for you. Depending on your drink of choice, nutrition and health is never simple and there are thousands of substances in each drink.

      For example 2 or 3 blonde beers a week would be better than 1 to 2 glasses of red wine, but not due to alcohol but other substances in wine that have negative health effects that negate the positive effect of sporadic mild alcohol use.

  7. Dear Kris
    I am in my late 50′s I have struggled with my weight my entire life… I guess that sounds familiar! I have tried pretty much everything with varying degrees of success. I have in the past tried Atkins and the Dukan diet which were the diets that were low carb but I found it particularly hard to stick to them for the long term. I have looked at many of the sites you recommend… Paleo with cheese and without, I am not sure where to start or where to find the thing that will keep me on track… What would you recommend? What is the solution for constipation… it seems to be a problem for the low carb diets…

    • Well, this is the problem with pretty much every diet. They are hard to stick to and it is more of a mental battle than anything else. Maybe get a trainer, someone to hold you accountable. That can help.

      If you’re unable to stick to a diet because of cravings for junk foods then you may need to cut them out completely. That worked for me and is probably the best solution for anyone who has begun to have addiction-like symptoms when it comes to junk foods.

      The constipation is a common side effect of low-carb but it is mostly temporary. Try adding more vegetables and supplementing with magnesium citrate and 2 grams of sodium per day. That should help.

  8. Hi Kris,

    I slowly dumped carbs in the form of sugars, all grains, some fruits and even a few vegetables. I feel great, although it took some time for my body to adjust to burning fat for fuel. I’ve tested positive for ketosis for going on four weeks now, but haven’t lost much weight. Do you have any ideas/ suggestions? I don’t have much weight to lose, admittedly, but I could easily lose 10 pounds and would like to be able to do so. Thank you!

  9. Kris,
    LOVE THE PICS :)
    Thanks for all of the info and hard work!

  10. Don’t get me wrong, I agree that Fructose is toxic and a poison, but fructose does not drive insulin. Glucose drives insulin. Fructose goes straight to the liver and is converted to glucose and triglycerides. It does make us fat and sick, but it does not drive insulin.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM

    • Yes but over time, fructose leads to insulin resistance. When we become insulin resistant, the pancreas start secreting more insulin.

      • What he’s trying to get at is this:

        Fructose is silent and goes straight to the liver where it is converted straight to triglycerides. However, with large intake of fructose (and its addictive sweetness), this causes your brain to seek out more sweet foods to keep hitting that dopamine high.

        Subsequently, this causes a mass overeating of sweets (sucrose to be specific), and with more sucrose, you’re feeding more glucose into the blood which causes even higher insulin production. Repeat this cycle until you produce too much insulin and your cells become resistant.

        Without the sweetness and addictive powers of fructose, we wouldn’t be craving cupcakes or even fruits at all in general.

    • I have fixed the subheadline now. It is true that fructose doesn’t acutely raise insulin so it was a bit misleading. Thanks for the tip.

  11. Christina says:

    I found what worked best for me was cutting carbs out one step at a time instead of doing it all over night to help my body adjust. It really helped me focus on how my body was feeling and what it responded to the best. The fewer simple carbs I ate, the better I felt. I started filling up on proteins and vegetables instead. Try focusing on cutting things out one at a time so there isn’t so much pressure and you’ll find that soon you just won’t want any of them anymore.

  12. Hi Kris
    Over the last 10 years I have gained nearly 25kgs, I am 52 and had always been active with cycling and golf, but however due to work commitments, I have really not done much, hence the weight gain. At the beginning of January this year my wife took me to have my cholesterol and blood pressure checked.

    To my dismay my cholesterol was at 7.2 and blood pressure was 151/97…………not good, I decided to go on a eating plan and cut out alcohol, sugar, bread, pasta, and eat healthy and six times a day. Breakfast consist of rice crispies with low fat milk, a glass of lemon juice, snack mid morning is 2 rice cakes and a slice of mozzarella cheese, lunch is 2 fruits, mid afternoon snack is lite cup of soup and dinner is salad, loads of roasted veg and small portion of meat/chicken or fish.

    I drink 2 liters of water a day, I am in my 5th week now. To date I have lost 20 pounds and have 35 more to go to reach my goal, I feel so great and don’t miss the alcohol or sweets/chocolates at all, I feel more confident and really feel alive. Within the first week my blood pressure had dropped to 121/82 and has been consistent ever since, with out the use of any medication……which I find truly amazing, I will have my cholesterol checked in 2 months time.

    I have also come to realize the amount of crap we eat and put into our bodies each day without considering the consequences. Will let you know when I reach my goal weight.

    Regards,
    Keith

  13. Really good points. But it seems from the comments here that loads of you miss that your body needs fat, healthy good fat; fat from fish and meat, butter, coconut oil and maybe some extra omega 3. And rice crispies and rice cakes are nout low carb – that’s really high GI stuff.

    If anyone every worries about governmental advice, realise they’re not up to date and the existing ones are not based on bad or no science at all.
    Check the advice from Diet doctor on http://www.dietdoctor.com

  14. Hey Kris, what do you suggest for vegetarians who might want to try and ditch carbs? I’m not a huge wheat person, but I do eat spelt, kamut, rice, etc.

  15. HI Kris,
    I am at my wits end. I have been following a low carb diet for about 2 years. I am probably one of the strictest people I know with my diet. I don’t consume any sugars, carbs, gluten etc. I exercise regularly and have only lost 4kgs in 2 years (I have about 20kgs to lose). I am 37 years old, 82kg and168cm, I removed all hormonal contraceptives 4 years ago so as to remove the hormonal response, I am trying very hard to reduce stress levels so as to remove the cortisol response. I have read a heap of books regarding low carb diets so I know what to eat and when. I am just pulling my hair out trying to figure out why this weight WILL NOT SHIFT, any help, I’m desperate!

  16. Hi,

    I am inspired by all the above comments to go for more veg and fruits. I have hypothyroidism, hormonal imbalance and trying to conceive for the past 2 yrs. Can you suggest what fruits and veggies might be helpful for me?

    • Hi Debbie,

      It’s really not as easy as what fruits and vegetables too eat. It’s more about what foods to avoid. If you avoid processes foods, all wheat as much grain as you can and lower your carbohydrates, you will bring your hypothyroidism under control, your hormonal imbalance will normalize and I’d be willing to put money on your being able to conceive.

      But you really have to educate yourself. These are some books I would recommend:

      … The Art and Science of Low Carbohydrate Living
      … Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food
      … Good Calories, Bad Calories (and/or) Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It
      … The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet
      … New Atkins for a New You (publication date: 2010)
      … The Protein Power Lifeplan

      Good Luck, Diana

  17. Lol I’ve been a sugar addict all my life, 32 now, no diabetes, thin, fit. No hints at fattening. I’m not big on sports, I only do some fitness and well, I walk everywhere if it’s within a few km.

    If normal white sugar is so fattening, why did the US fat epidemic explode when sugar was largely replaced by HFCS?

    HFCS has not gained much of a foothold here in Europe, coca cola and others must produce old school soft drinks with sugar instead of HFCS to sell in the EU for example.

    Soft drink consumption is about as high in the EU as the US but we don’t have a fat epidemic in any way similar to the one in the US.

    I live in one of the deep frying galor- countries as well so in general people here get plenty of fats and plenty of sugar. But obesity or heart disease isn’t anywhere close to how it is in the US. What we call Obese Americans even often still call normal because of skewed perspectives.

    Of course the obesity epidemic isn’t just HFCS but I find it a highly intriguing correlation.

    • Michael says:

      David, it is ok to consume sugar. However, if you keep your caloric intake to maintenance or below you won’t gain weight, because your body will just burn it off. If you smoke or use tobacco products then the playing field changes a lot. When I used to smoke I could consume 6k calories a day easy with absolutely no weight gain. I quit smoking and gained 30lbs+ of pure muscle. Some people can metabolize sugars with ease, and some people can’t at all. The best diet is the diet that works for you. I had to play with mine for many years to figure mine out. I hope this might unveil some clarity.

  18. Justine M says:

    This was a great article to read. I had a conversation with my mother just this evening about how sugar makes us fat, which she disagreed with.

    I have just started the paleo/primal blueprint diet. I’m into week 1. So far it has been tough. I have had a few sugar, but lots of carb cravings. I’ve done we’ll so far and after reading this article it has inspired me to keep going and get past the initial 30 day challenge. I know I will feel much better for it. My body is detoxing the moment and is telling me this everyday this week, particularly today. It’s just a clear sign that it was in desperate need of saving!
    Good luck everyone.

    Check out Mark’s Daily Apple if you are interested in his healthy way of eating.

  19. It seems people need to discern better.

    A high sugar diet has much different health outcomes than a high starch diet.

    It’s narrow minded to group them all together as ‘carbs’ and stop eating both of them in the name of good health.

    TL, DR: Starch is good, sugar’s OK in moderation or as an exercise fuel.

  20. I lost 42 pounds since May 2013. I stopped all sugar, I only eat fresh vegetables, no fruit, no wheat grain, plenty of fish, pork, chicken and good fats plus dairy and cheese, and nuts, some good tubers like yams and beans, but no potatoes. I control my diabetes 2 now this way. I exercise 6 days a week and I have ‘lots’ of energy now. I feel and look 20 years younger.

    It was all that sugar and flour that was killing me. I do not have that crazy craving for processed food and sugar any more. My A1c is normal, 5.3 to 5.7, I have normal cholesterol and blood pressure is great. I don’t need to take pills any more. Thank God, finally I am a free man. I eat this low carbohydrate diet as stated above with green fresh vegetables.

  21. I appreciate that you seem to be conflating all sugars as equal. Or did you? It seems as if people who want to make anti-fructose arguments like to switch their arguments around whenever convenient.

    1. Sorry, sucrose is a molecule, it does not “contain” fructose and glucose in the sense that you can simple throw it in water and let it separate. It “contains” fructose and glucose as much as it “contains” oxygen, water, and carbon.

    2. If the argument is that fructose is bad, fine, just remember to remind people that honey and fruits contain it too. The point I’m making here is, whether you intended or not, conspiracy theorists love to cite articles like these out of context and conclude that honey is better than sucrose, sucrose is better than HFCS (there is zero scientific evidence to support this, as there is zero scientific evidence that for purposes of sugar and metabolism, honey would differ from HFCS).

    3. HFCS and honey contain, literally, the same sugars (F & G). So any argument which claims either is better or worse than sucrose (table sugar), should include that they are essentially the same active ingredients (in mixture, fructose and glucose).

    4. If your argument is that all sugars are bad, fine. I agree. The study that “sugar is addictive” contains 16 mentions of fructose vs 56 of sucrose. Just to put in perspective that it’s not meant as an anti-fructose article.

    5. Again, if you’re going to say both sucrose and fructose are harmful for you, you are left with few options;

    - Avoid sweeteners.
    - Avoid natural sweeteners.
    - Use honey (but you’re forced to explain why honey, containing fructose and glucose, would be any different).

    Not that you asked, but I personally subscribe to “all natural sweeteners are equally bad, and articles which demonize fructose are written by cane sugar and honey advocates”.

  22. Hi Kyle,

    I don’t claim to be a bio-chemist, I have taken some chemistry and I’m pretty sure I understand your point. Also, I agree that all sweeteners are ‘bad’.
    I do however have one tinny quibble, which maybe you can illuminate for me…
    This is what I have learned, please feel free to let me know if I’m wrong (and trust me I know I’m over simplifying this):

    1) Glucose, via the pancreas, raises insulin levels, so that the insulin can stuff the glucose into cells for energy. Too much glucose -> too much insulin -> leads to insulin resistance by the cells. This is bad

    1) Fructose by-passes the pancreas, goes straight to the liver gets turned into fat and among other things causes fatty liver and high triglycerides. This is worse.

    Do you see the difference?
    Is this wrong?

    Thanks, Diana

  23. Okullo Antony says:

    Weight gain is like a bank account (in the absence of any abnormal metabolic circumstances). We all know what happens the more we deposit without withdrawing.

    I am surprised no contributor is talking about food portions (food deposits) irrespective of the type of food (currency). Approach the issue like the average Japanese. Fill the small bowl, eat slow, talk more and take sugarless tea.

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