Sugar’s effects on weight management and your health isn’t as you thought. What the research really has to say!

Sugar’s effects on weight management and your health isn’t as you thought. What the research really has to say!

 I’ve seen every macronutrient demonized at various points over the last 20 years. And the object of this demonization changes every few years.

It depends on who is popular and recommending fad diets and the ultimate search for easy fat loss.

A Fitness Trainer will employ a certain approach with a celebrity and soon it becomes the way to maximum fat loss. But is it? What about sustaining fat loss? Why doesn’t this mean anything to the masses. If you cannot follow it long term then it is just another approach that will leave you dissatisfied. There isn’t a holy grail of programs because simply put, it depends on you, and what you can follow long term. Most people’s lifestyles change. Calories taken in trumps everything else. Why do all our programs vary from client to client? Because each person is unique. I have seen so many people follow a friend’s plan who was losing inches and they struggle to lose anything, or it is just not doable for them and their lifestyle. Money and time wasted. Well at least you learned what isn’t for you… 

Fat, protein, carbs, dairy—they’ve all been linked to health benefits and improved body composition. And you can easily find diets that uses those links to pump them up, sometimes to the exclusion of almost everything else. Or cycles of macro nutrients.

I typically use a clients lifestyle to adjust daily and weekly macro nutrient variations to help clients adhere to proper calories consumed that way they get RESULTS and start to understand how to make their lifestyle work for them in the future to sustain their results.

TO TREAT OR NOT TO TREAT

Let’s start with the main areas of concern for folks. Research has associated high sugar intake with increased rates of obesity, heart disease, and cancer.[1-3] Many fitness and research professionals suggest reducing or eliminating sugar intake to optimize health and body composition.

This seems logical at first. But the next question is the big one: Is it the sugar that does the damage, or the extra calories it brings? Because those calories can definitely be significant. A typical can of soda contains around 40-50 grams of sugar, and drinking two cans per day could increase your daily calories by a whopping 300-400.

What’s worst about these calories is that they’re basically empty. By this I mean that sugar has been shown to have very little effect on satiety, or how full you feel from the calories you eat. Taking in lots of extra calories but not getting full? For people who cannot adhere to proper calories this poses an issue. Planned treats with self control programmed into proper calories can easily be implemented however!

But beyond the satiety argument, many people also believe that sugar in and of itself is more lipogenic (causes an increase in fatty-acid production and ultimately fat storage) than comparable calories from other types of carbohydrates. By this logic, some people recommend avoiding sugar by any means necessary.

A 2001 study published in International Journal of Obesity followed overweight subjects whose diets derived either 10 or 5 percent of calories from sucrose.[4] On a 2,000-calorie diet, this would be the difference between 50 and 25 grams of sugar per day. After eight weeks, there were no significant differences in weight loss or BMI. In fact, the high-sugar group lost about 1-1/2 pounds more, but this effect was statistically insignificant.

This finding jived with a huge six-month study on more than 300 people, in which subjects demonstrated no differences in weight loss or body composition with a diet higher in sugar versus a diet lower in sugar—when calories, protein, and fiber were the same.[5]

There were limitations with these studies, mainly that they were “free living.” That means participants were told what to do, and the researchers assumed they did it.

HERE THOUGH! A study published in the University of Minnesota’s Journal of Nutrition was much more tightly controlled.[6] For the first 12 weeks of the study, the participants had every meal they consumed prepared by the university, significantly reducing the probability of data interference. After the 12 weeks, the subjects were told to continue the diet on their own for 24 more weeks on their own. Each group lost the same amount of weight and body fat—regardless of how much sugar they consumed.

So the difference in sugar intake between groups in these studies is pretty modest, but these results have been confirmed under extreme circumstances.[4] One group of researchers found no difference in weight loss when people consumed 4 percent of their calories from sugar or 43 percent![7] That’s more than 10 times more sugar in the high-sugar group: 11 grams versus 118 grams. 

Clearly differences in weight or fat loss do not appear to be different with varying intakes of sugar on the same calories.

 

WHAT ABOUT WEIGHT GAIN?

Many people have been mis informed that if you consume sugar, like candy it instantly turns to body fat. This proven here makes it untrue, but it creates a fear and illusion for people, causing cravings to have what they think they cannot, guilt and increased carb binges occur while trying to follow a typical ‘clean eating diet’ when if they simply fit the food into their calories by subtracting some calories elsewhere in the plan, they would be satisfied and results would come. Instead they jack up the calories and try to restrict themselves even further to make up for it. Which in turn increases appetite hormones even further! 

A year-long study in the International Journal of Obesity found no differences in post-diet weight regain with a low-sugar versus high-sugar diet.[8]

All this data suggests that differences in weight gain or loss result from more sugar and more calories overall, rather than sugar consumption specifically. If overall calories are controlled, there is no difference in fat loss. Even the most demonized of sugars, high-fructose corn syrup, has been demonstrated not to impede fat loss or improvements in blood lipids when calories are controlled.[9]

Weight loss is one thing, but what about other health parameters? Several studies have investigated the effects of sugar-containing diets versus those low in sugar and carbohydrate on factors other than weight. When sugar was incorporated in a moderate amount, and calories, protein, carbohydrates, and fiber were kept equal, there was no difference in changes in blood pressure, blood lipids, blood glucose, cholesterol, insulin, thyroid hormone, or markers of inflammation.[4-7]

Low-sugar diets (11 grams per day) were associated with slightly more benefits to cholesterol and blood lipids compared to very-high-sugar diets(118 grams per day).[7] Yet this effect was so small—less than 10 percent difference between groups—that the authors questioned its significance because of the fact of lifestyle (activity levels) and other outside variables. 

Some people will also counter that since all carbohydrates, excluding fiber, turn into sugar in the body, low-carbohydrate diets will produce superior fat loss and health compared to higher-carbohydrate diets. However, a study performed at the University of Arizona compared an isocaloric low-carbohydrate diet to a moderate-carbohydrate diet equal in protein.

Over six weeks, both diets produced the same amount of fat loss.[11] Furthermore, markers of inflammation were lower in the moderate-carb group than the low-carbohydrate group.

This finding jived with a huge six-month study on more than 300 people, in which subjects demonstrated no differences in weight loss or body composition with a diet higher in sugar versus a diet lower in sugar—when calories, protein, and fiber were the same.[5]

 Cutting Fruit and sugar from your diet isn’t a surefire way to lose weight.

 

The difference in sugar intake between groups in these studies is pretty modest, but these results have been confirmed under extreme circumstances.[4] One group of researchers found no difference in weight loss when people consumed 4 percent of their calories from sugar or 43 percent![7] That’s more than 10 times more sugar in the high-sugar group: 11 grams versus 118 grams. When I saw this, I was shocked by the massive difference in sugar with no difference in weight loss.

Finally, while differences in weight or fat loss do not appear to be different with varying intakes of sugar, what about weight gain? A year-long study in the International Journal of Obesity found no differences in post-diet weight regain with a low-sugar versus high-sugar diet.[8]

All this data suggests that differences in weight gain or loss result from more sugar and more calories overall, rather than sugar consumption specifically. If overall calories are controlled, there is no difference in fat loss. Even the most demonized of sugars, high-fructose corn syrup, has been demonstrated not to impede fat loss or improvements in blood lipids when calories are controlled.[9]

 Obese people often have compromised levels of insulin sensitivity and lower glucose tolerance, meaning they don’t efficiently handle glucose compared to an individual with greater insulin sensitivity. If anyone would be unable to lose weight on a diet higher in sugar, it would be these individuals however the majority of the studies are conducted on clinically obese individuals.

Athletes and active people generally have significantly improved levels of insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance compared to the average population.[10] Therefore, even if sugar was inherently more lipogenic—which it’s not, based on the data just presented—athletes and those who engage in resistance training would be the people best-equipped to tolerate it.

Athletes and very active people are better able to tolerate sugar’s impact on insulin and blood glucose levels.

Fortunately for those of us with a sweet tooth, it seems sugar can be tolerated by most people when overall calories are controlled.

Why struggle through another fad diet?

Your fat loss expert,

Joe Hughes

Author of Finding Balance 100 meals to Fit Your Life

CEO of FitNSync and Developer of FIT N FLEXIBLE

NCSF Certified Personal Trainer, Nutritional Consultant, Published Fitness Model 

Former IFBB World Amateur Natural Fitness Championships Men’s Physique Competitor

FITNESS

**If you are being treated by a health professional make sure you consult and follow your health professional’s advice. This article serves as information for healthy adults.

 

References

  1. Stanhope, K. L. (2015). Sugar consumption, metabolic disease and obesity: The state of the controversyCritical Reviews in Clinical Laboratory Sciences, 1-16.
  2. Yudkin, J., & Watson, R. H. (1969). Sugar and ischaemic heart diseaseBritish Journal of Medicine, 4(5675), 110-111.
  3. Sulaiman, S., Shahril, M. R., Wafa, S. W., Shaharudin, S. H., & Hussin, S. N. (2014). Dietary carbohydrate, fiber and sugar and risk of breast cancer according to menopausal status in malaysiaAsian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention, 15, 5959-5964.
  4. West, J. A., & De Looy, A. E. (2001). Weight loss in overweight subjects following low-sucrose or sucrose-containing dietsInternational Journal of Obesity & Related Metabolic Disorders, 25(8).
  5. Saris, W. H., Astrup, A., Prentice, A. M., Zunft, H. J., Formiguera, X., Verboeket-van de Venne, W. P. H. G., … & Vasilaras, T. H. (2000). Randomized controlled trial of changes in dietary carbohydrate/fat ratio and simple vs complex carbohydrates on body weight and blood lipids: the CARMEN studyInternational Journal of Obesity, 24(10), 1310-1318.
  6. Raatz, S. K., Torkelson, C. J., Redmon, J. B., Reck, K. P., Kwong, C. A., Swanson, J. E., … & Bantle, J. P. (2005). Reduced glycemic index and glycemic load diets do not increase the effects of energy restriction on weight loss and insulin sensitivity in obese men and womenThe Journal of Nutrition, 135(10), 2387-2391.
  7. Surwit, R. S., Feinglos, M. N., McCaskill, C. C., Clay, S. L., Babyak, M. A., Brownlow, B. S., … & Lin, P. H. (1997). Metabolic and behavioral effects of a high-sucrose diet during weight lossThe American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 65(4), 908-915.
  8. Aller, E. E., Larsen, T. M., Claus, H., Lindroos, A. K., Kafatos, A., Pfeiffer, A., … & Saris, W. H. M. (2014). Weight loss maintenance in overweight subjects on ad libitum diets with high or low protein content and glycemic index: the DIOGENES trial 12-month resultsInternational Journal of Obesity, 38(12), 1511-1517.
  9. Lowndes, J., Kawiecki, D., Pardo, S., Nguyen, V., Melanson, K. J., Yu, Z., & Rippe, J. M. (2012). The effects of four hypocaloric diets containing different levels of sucrose or high fructose corn syrup on weight loss and related parametersNutrition Journal, 11(1), 1.
  10. Phielix, E., Meex, R., Ouwens, D. M., Sparks, L., Hoeks, J., Schaart, G., … & Schrauwen, P. (2012). High oxidative capacity due to chronic exercise training attenuates lipid-induced insulin resistanceDiabetes, 61(10), 2472-2478.
  11. Johnston, C. S., Tjonn, S. L., Swan, P. D., White, A., Hutchins, H., & Sears, B. (2006). Ketogenic low-carbohydrate diets have no metabolic advantage over nonketogenic low-carbohydrate dietsThe American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 83(5), 1055-1061.
 
By | 2017-11-24T18:30:53+00:00 October 1st, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments

About the Author:

Founder of FitNSync and Fit N Flexible NCSF Certified Personal Trainer Author of "Finding Balance" 2015 Team Canada Natural Men’s Physique Competitor Published Fitness Model In Inside Fitness Magazine and Muscle Memory Magazine