Have you ever wondered how come sugar contained in food makes you put on weight so rapidly? After all, one gram of sugar provides only four kilocalories, that is exactly the same as one gram of "slimming" and so prized protein, and more than twice as less calorie as one gram of fat. Why is it sugar that is more and more often blamed for overweight and obesity? What does this strange relation stem from? How is it possible that carbohydrates, which are a basis of healthy eating pyramid, begin to work against you and lead to increasing corpulence?
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Not only calories matter
Focusing only on calorie-counting can lead you astray. Aside from calorie content, many aspects, such as presence of vitamins, important elements, fibre and the way it affects hormones secretion, determine whether the food is healthy or not. Sugars very strongly affect insuline response, that is important hormone produced by the pancreas, which plays a very important role in regulating body's energy management. This is why excessive intake of sugars very easily leads to serious disorders that affect normal functioning of the entire body.
Sugar and insulin
Insulin appears in the bloodstream in response to increase of sugar level, and activates special glucose transporters on the surface of muscle cells, liver cells and fat cells which allows insulin to pass glucose inwards (where it can be burnt or stored as glycogen... or fat). This mechanism has its limited capacity, though. If you put its possibilities to a proof by regular bombing with abundant doses of sugar, some insulin receptors will become deaf to the hormonal signals and will no longer work correctly due to permanent fluctuations of glucose levels. Effects of such experiments are, unfortunately, highly undesirable because tissues and organs will no longer effectively catch glucose circulating in your blood.
Insulin sensitivity disorder
As a consequence of oversupply of sugar, increasing insulin resistance begins to develop, reinforced all the time by increasing sugar level in blood (which is no longer efficiently collected by muscles) and, on the other hand, by compensatory insulin response. High levels of insulin and glucose reduce fatty acids' oxidation possibilities and increase deposition of these acids in a form of body fat. This pathology is additionally aided by the presence of fructose in your diet (aside from glucose, the other component of sucrose) which escapes some mechanisms governing important metabolism processes and leads to intense synthesis of fatty acids.
Sugar and leptin
Oversupply of sugar promotes growth of body weight which affects activity of the hormone known as leptin. Leptin is secreted by fat cells, and the more fat storage you have, the greater secretion. When the hormone level rises, your brain is informed that energy reserves are full and you can reduce consumption of food. It also increases your metabolism rate leading to increased energy expenditure. This mechanism, when working correctly, can prevent development of overweight and obesity, but unfortunately it is often deregulated due to sugar oversupply, fructose in the first place (which is a component of sucrose and glucose-fructose syrup). This leads to leptin-resistance, condition in which your brain becomes insensitive to signals sent by leptin.
Appetite comes with eating
The result of leptin-resistance are disorders of appetite control mechanisms: although energy reserves are full and the level of body fat consistently grows – you are still hungry and you eat more and more, providing subsequent doses of sugar and deepening physiological pathology. Unfortunately, despite signals sent by leptin your metabolism does not grow. Indeed – it is reduced, the body does not see this hormone and recognises that you are still in the energy deficit state so it switches to the "power saving" mode. The result is that you become even fatter and it is harder and harder to get rid of excessive kilogrammes.
Sugar as a drug, sugar as a poison
Addictiveness of sugar seems to be a fact confirmed scientifically. A couple of years ago Nature magaizine published an article entitled "The Toxic Truth About Sugar", the authors of which not only draw your attention to negative effects associated with sugar addiction, but also suggest that production, distribution and sale of confectionery products should be subject to similar legal regulations as it is in case of alcoholic beverages and tobacco. Scientists also warn that health consequences resulting from overuse of sugar are very similar to those of alcoholism or tobacco addiction!
To sum up
There is no dobt that consumption of refined sugars is conducive to unwanted growth of body weight; there is no doubt, the source of the problem is not only energy value of sugar, but the fact that it's very easy to bring to its excess in everyday diet. Consequences mean impairment of satiety control mechanisms and of energy expenditure processes. Taking into account the fact that sugar activates the same metabolic pathways in the brain as other addictive substances (nicotine, alcohol, drugs), it's easy to conclude that recommendation such as "eat less and move more" may simply be ineffective for those accustomed to regular consumption of sugar.