POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Sep 7, 2010
Sugar and its impact on our health is often misunderstood or misrepresented. There are two main types of sugar we use for energy: glucose and fructose, the latter having potentially more harmful effects in a person's fat-loss goals.
Glucose, a carbohydrate, is found in all foods and is the exclusive energy source for the brain. It is easily broken down by our bodies for fast energy, and when in surplus, it gets stored within the liver, as glycogen, for easy retrieval.
However, "excess" is excess, and too much glycogen eventually will turn into fat. One easy way to avoid a surplus is to follow the oft-repeated recommendation of a 30-minute brisk walk.
Fructose, found naturally in fruits and vegetables, is sweeter than glucose. Food manufacturers found a way to refine it into high concentrations to add into processed foods to give them a taste other than the box they are packaged in.
This sweeter, highly concentrated form of sugar is called high-fructose corn syrup. The very fact that it is concentrated already lends itself to excess consumption. It takes about 10 apples to equal the amount of fructose found in 100 grams of high-fructose corn syrup. Though excess fructose can indeed be converted into glycogen, the parts leftover are immediately converted into very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL), the very bad cholesterol, and triglycerides, which are, essentially, free floating fats in the blood, waiting to clog your arteries.
Ultimately, it is always a good idea to control and monitor the amount of sugar we take in, whether glucose or fructose, because our energy demands are simply not as high as they used to be when we were required to do physical labor, such as plowing fields and hunting to put food on the table.
Next time you are bombarded by sugar myths remember this: Added fructose is generally a bad idea and best to avoid, and "walking it off" works to circumvent any fructose surpluses.
Note: Tips based on a person who wants to lose 30 pounds, leads a sedentary lifestyle, has little exercise experience and is a yo-yo dieter. This person also has a full-time job that imposes time limitations. Consult a physician before starting any diet or fitness regimen.
Reggie Palma is an exercise physiologist and personal trainer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.