Why is sugar bad for you?

By Dr. Stephen Phinney and the Virta Team

At any point in time, a healthy person’s bloodstream contains just 1-2 teaspoons of sugar. So when you consume sugar or carbohydrates (which get absorbed as blood sugar), this triggers an insulin response by your body. Insulin is the hormone that facilitates the movement of sugar out of your blood and into your cells, where it can be used for energy, stored in limited amounts as glycogen, or made into fat. Insulin also actively blocks your body’s use of stored body fat, meaning that as long as insulin is high, it will be very difficult for you to lose weight.

We all know about the sugar in candy, cookies, and soda. But just 8 oz of orange juice or apple juice contains 2-3 times as much sugar as your entire blood stream. Common processed foods are full of hidden sugar — just one tablespoon of conventional barbecue sauce contains enough sugar to double your blood sugar level if insulin were not there to drive it into your cells.

Frequent sugar consumption and the resulting insulin spikes contributes to a problem called insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is strongly associated with type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome (prediabetes), non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), high blood triglycerides (dyslipidemia), high blood pressure (hypertension), polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), and obesity. The solution? If you want to lose weight and avoid insulin resistance and its related conditions, reduce your consumption of sugars and refined carbohydrate foods that cause elevated blood insulin levels.

Each of us differs in our ability to tolerate dietary sugars and refined carbohydrates. If you struggle with losing weight or find yourself on the sugar and insulin rollercoaster, try cutting back. When you get your blood insulin level down by controlling dietary sugar and carbohydrate intakes, you will likely feel better and have more energy.

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