Our bodies are literally driven by sugar. Our muscles and brain burns the stuff like no tomorrow. Just sitting, our body is producing 110 watts per hour and doing heavy work or exercise is closer to 550 watts. For brief bursts our muscles can even produce 1000 watts – that’s a kilowatt – or enough to light your entire house or run an airconditioner…and all that power is coming from the sugar that makes up carbohydrates. Unlike starches and fat, fructose and glucose are already monosaccharides and can be absorbed straight through your intestinal walls and into the blood as instant power. The sucrose from cane sugar is slightly more complex and needs to be broken down into glucose before it can enter the bloodstream…but that process doesn’t take long.
It’s because of sugar’s rapid ingestion into our blood that we crave sweet food. The moment the body realises the energy available in the blood is dropping, it tells the brain it needs sugar – the more the energy drops the more the body will scream for a fix. Of course, under most circumstances, if the sugar doesn’t show up, the body will then begin converting the stored fat in our fat cells to sugary fuel instead…however, with our increasing affluence and almost ever present opportunity to find snack machines, fat conversion almost never gets a chance to happen – and this is a problem. For one, always giving into the body’s sugar craving means you never get a chance to burn your fat cells as an alternative fuel. Add to this you will probably eat more sugar than you need when you get a craving – meaning it will start being converted into fat. So guess what happens when that sugar becomes fat and is no longer in the bloodstream? The craving begins again. In other words, the quest for sugar becomes a never ending cycle. For all intents and purposes, sugar should be considered a dangerously addictive substance.
So what should you do to break the cycle? Providing you don’t have underlying health issues such as diabetes, be more resistant to sugar cravings. No one has starved to death by not eating a snack between meals, and nor do you need to quench a thirst with sugar sweetened beverages…water can actually do the job. A chocolate bar or 375ml can of soft drink both contain ten to twelve teaspoons of sugar – up to 780kj – and these days that sugar is usually fructose, which means it will enter the bloodstream the second it passes beyond the stomach. The body will take at least two hours to burn that much fuel, and face it, you’ll probably have eaten or drunk something else by then. In other words, fight the urge to go to the snack machine and you’ll be able to keep your daily energy consumption at levels closer to what you really need.