Sugar Basics

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Whether among athletes or in the own calorie-conscious kitchen – the topic ‘sugar’ is still hotly disputed. While some people are strongly convinced that sugar is “poison” for the own body, others enjoy it in their meals without remorse. But what exactly is sugar – sweet sin or unique source of energy? To get rid of some clichés, we explain the true nature of sugar. It’s a fact that every kind of movement, regardless of the intensity, burns energy. By eating, we refill the missing energy in our body. 50-55% of the energy intake should be supplied by carbohydrates. Consuming healthy food, such as cereals, lentils, fruits, vegetables, milk and milk products is good for the body. At the same time, these foods provide valuable vitamins, minerals and dietary fibres, which are necessary for digestion.

Not all kinds of sugar are the same

Besides monosaccharides and disaccharides, there’s a third type of carbohydrates: the polysaccharides. Every kind of carbohydrate has a certain function in the human body, and therefore needs to be consumed differently.

Monosaccharides consist either of glucose or fructose, which can be found in certain fruits, as well as in honey. Disaccharides, such as sucrose and lactose, on the other hand, comprise two monosaccharides. Those who like sweets, cakes, white flour products and beverages with high content of sugar, should pay attention now: Monosaccharides and disaccharides are soluble in water, and immediately enter blood circulation through the intestine; thus, causing a quick and short increase of the blood sugar level. Insulin is then released and transports sugar molecules in the body’s cells. As a result, the blood sugar level decreases after a short period of time, and the feeling of appetite returns quicker than we expected. Therefore, you should consume these foods in moderation.

Polysaccharides, which are contained in plant and animal starch, consist of up to 500 monosaccharides. Since they aren’t soluble in water, and thus in this state too big for humans, they are split up into water-soluble monosaccharides. This process takes up a certain amount of time; sugar enters blood circulation more slowly and continuously. Hence, an even energy supply is ensured, and the feeling of appetite remains absent for a long time. Attacks of a ravenous appetite are also only a minor danger.

The golden mean

Carbohydrates aren’t only contained in bones, tendons and tissues, but also occur in blood group substances and anticoagulant substances. They regulate water and electrolyte balance, and are the only sources of energy for brain and red blood cells.

Missing out on carbohydrates for a long period of time is disrupting for metabolism and therefore harmful for the body. Proteins can offset a lack of carbohydrates; however, this causes proteins to abandon their usual functions. But also consuming too many carbohydrates has consequences: The surplus is saved as fat reserves in the body. Therefore, it’s best to find the golden mean! A healthy lifestyle means to know the own body. Key words, such as energy balance, metabolic rate and calories should be part of the personal vocabulary.

(Image: © Printemps –