What Too Much Sugar Really Does to Your Body

Effects of Eating Too Much Sugar
By: Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN

Sugar, sugar, sugar. We hear so much about it: it’s so bad for your health, it will give you diseases, it will make you gain weight, etc. While this is all true in the long run, I want to draw attention to why it’s so bad for us in the immediate ‘here and now’. I think the real issue is actually what sugar does to us on a daily basis that can be destructive.

In the short term, high sugar consumption can contribute to fatigue, exhaustion, lack of productivity, and can make you feel bad overall. Let’s understand why.

The Basic Process of Sugar Metabolism

Have you ever noticed that when you have a banana by itself, or better yet a piece of candy, that you feel hungry soon after? When we have a simple carbohydrate, that means there is very little fat, protein or fiber along with it, and our bodies digest it rather quickly. When we digest food rapidly it ends up in our bloodstream faster, and causes our blood sugar to rise a bit (how much depends on the person and what was consumed). When this happens, insulin is signaled for release into the blood vessels to remove the sugar, taking it to the muscles, and then once again the sugar in the blood is less than it was before and therefore we may feel hungry again (20 minutes later). If we continued to do this kind of thing over and over during the day we’d not only eat probably more than we wanted to, but we’d feel tired due to all of the ups and downs that are happening in our blood vessels, and we might experience more persistent hunger and fatigue.

On the other hand, if we eat that same banana or that piece of candy with a meal or with something that has protein, fat or fiber (like banana with almond butter, or the piece of candy along with a meal); digestion is slowed due to the fat, fiber and protein causing more time for digestion and therefore the fuel enters the bloodstream more slowly, less insulin has to be released to remove the blood sugar to the tissues, and suddenly we realize we feel more full and satiated. Exactly what we’re looking for.

The Daily Effects of Consuming Too Much Sugar

So  what does sugar metabolism have to do with your daily habit of consumption even if you don’t eat candy or bananas (I actually love bananas see why here)? Many of us consume more sugar than we realize through sources like adding sugar to our coffee, sugar added in processed foods, sugar on our oatmeal, eating more that 2-3 servings fruit daily (fruit works a little differently than as mentioned before but if we eat too much of it, it still adds up!), cocktails and more. If we’re consuming more sugar than we realize, our bodies may constantly be in a state of slightly elevated blood sugar to slightly low blood sugar and then we eat something because we’re hungry and the cycle repeats. This process may leave you napping at your desk, feeling too tired to go to the gym, and low on energy overall.

It’s important to really choose where our sugar comes from and to cut back in places that we can, to help to promote more energy in the short term, but also in the long run to help us stay healthy, maintain weight and prevent inflammation.

5 Tips to Help Balance Your Blood Sugar

  1. Start the day with protein or healthy fat: Starting the day with protein or healthy fat can help to promote balanced blood sugar right from the start. This can help promote satiety, healthy attention to work, balanced mood and more. Try these Banana Protein Pancakes.
  2. Skip the sweetener in your beverages: Plain and simple there are better ways to spend your sugar, and it’s way too easy to pour it in a drink! Try this Frothy Hot Water with Ginger instead of your usual morning Joe.
  3. Switch your daily drinks to water: Skip the sodas and sweetened teas you’re drinking during the day and instead go for just plain water. It’s much more hydrating and can help you save a ton of sugar! If you really want something besides water try this Juicy Iced Tea Recipe.
  4. Make your own salad dressings: Surprise! Store-bought dressings or those in restaurants can be loaded with sugar. Instead, choose to make your own or bring one that you know is lower in sugar (and I don’t mean loaded with artificial sweeteners either). Stick to an olive oil/lemon or balsamic dressing, or try this Cardio Carrot Ginger Dressing.
  5. Make your own dessert: We all know that candy bars are loaded with sugar, and so are many cookies and other yummy items you might buy outside of your house; however, if you make some of these things at home if you’ve got a sweet tooth (I’m guilty of one on occasion too!) you can save yourself both calories and sugar. Try these 100 Calorie Chocolate Peanut Butter Squares, with only 4 g sugar per serving, yum!

For more energy, work toward lowering your overall sugar intake and try to keep it balanced!

If you’re concerned about your blood sugar levels, our 60-Day Guided Reboot Program for Diabetes is lead by a nutritionist who helps you complete a juice cleanse with your sugar in check. Learn more. 

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Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN

Isabel is a Registered Dietitian, wellness expert and fitness coach. Isabel has her own nutrition and wellness practice based in New York City, Isabel Smith Nutrition, but she works with clients and corporations both nationwide and worldwide in a variety of areas including skin health, weight loss, gastrointestinal issues and allergies, sports nutrition, general wellness and more. As a Guided Reboot coach, Isabel has helped hundreds juice their way to better health. When she isn’t helping clients achieve optimal nutrition and wellness, she can be found trying and creating new juices and making other healthy recipes, running, cooking, spinning, practicing yoga, and enjoying time with her two Yorkshire terriers. Isabel is also one of the nutritionists who runs our Guided Reboot programs.

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