Debbie J., MS, RD contributed this article –
This tricky carbohydrate is actually a group of simple one – or two – unit sugars. The individual sugar or combination gives rise to names like glucose, maltose, and sucrose. We call milk sugar (lactose) or fruit sugar (fructose) natural, but technically so are honey, cane sugar, beet sugar and molasses. Depending on how they are used as an ingredient in food, even natural sources like honey and molasses might be considered an added sugar.
As little to no digestion is required for these to be absorbed, sugar is considered instant energy! This is good news and bad news. For athletes needing rapid fire muscle fuel or a person treating an episode of low blood sugar, the ready energy is ideal. Just about everyone else could use more sustained energy throughout the day since we only replenish 3-4 times for meals/snacks on average.
Why it matters that you avoid added sugars…
When you’re not exercising, sugars just raise your blood sugar, causing insulin to surge and stimulate storage in your fat cells. Yikes! Natural sugars from fruit, vegetables and dairy also have an effect, but these are full of water, fiber, and protein respectively. Whole foods fill you up, digest more slowly and have additional nutrients, too.
To trim body fat, you’ll want to limit simple sugars for the reasons above. One caveat — for exercise lasting longer than 90 minutes, or you’ve not eaten in over 3 hours prior to exercising — it’s best to consume simple carbohydrates during your workout, usually from a beverage so you hydrate at the same time. You WANT to draw on stored energy to lose weight so don’t over fuel. Aim to supply only half the calories you burn during the physical activity.