Could sugar be the worse thing possible, worse than hard drugs even? Not really.

Sugar (do do do do do do). Ah, honey honey. 

This episode isn’t intended as a deep dive into the nitty gritty science of sugar, but more of a broader introduction to how we should be thinking about sugar, given that a lot of us think about it wrong. 

Sugar consumption IS something we should be mindful of, but not to the extent where people start to fear bananas. I’ll go through when you should be mindful of it and when you shouldn’t to ensure you have a balanced and nuanced view by the end of the episode. Yay nuance! 


Hey guys, welcome back to the Bite Me podcast. Today I'm going to be talking about sugar. Now I'm not going to go into much science today. I'm not going to be talking about the insulin model of obesity hypothesis. I'm not going to be talking about pro-inflammatory markers or anything like that. Really what I want to give you today is a fairly foundational understanding of the role that sugar may play in our health and our diet. And then really give you a framework that you can apply to the messaging you might get from all different forms of the media because I'm sure we've all heard that sugar is toxic. Sugar is the number one cause of obesity, all of these messages. And I want to give you a bit of a lens through which you can view all that stuff and decide how that affects you, whether it affects you, whether you need to worry about it. Really, the first thing I want us to be thinking about is not to view sugar in isolation. I think very rarely have we come home, rushed into the kitchen, grabbed the sugar bowl out, and started eating teaspoons of sugar. We almost never consume sugar in isolation. And that's a really, really important point because what it means is we shouldn't be focusing on sugar per se. We should always be talking in terms of whole foods. Whether those foods be lollies or soft drink or fruit juice, or whether those foods be brown rice, vegetables, fruits, dairy products, other grains, because all of those things I just mentioned contain sugar, but all of those foods can supply a very different role in our diet. So that's why, first of all, it's really, really important that we look at the food as a whole because if we blame sugar, just with a broad stroke, that can very quickly lead to a fear of sugar in all its forms, where things like whole grains and dairy fruits, vegetables, people start to get worried about these things because they contain sugar. Like an apple contains 10 grams of sugar. That's close to two teaspoons of sugar. That's a lot of sugar. So should I not eat apples because they contain sugar, but apples contain lots of fiber. They contain vitamin C. They contain potassium. They contain quercetin. They contain all of these amazing other nutrients that we want to include in our diet. So if we look at sugar being bad, we miss the picture. So, instead, what I want us to be thinking about is these complex carbohydrates. So our complex forms of sugar, if you will. And these are more of our fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and some dairy versus say our simple carbohydrates, more of our refined carbohydrates, our whiter breads, our whiter pastas, and rices, as well as fruit juice and lollies and soft drinks. And you might have also noticed that I didn't mention anything like cookies or biscuits or cakes or donuts or chocolate or chips in that scenario. It's because those foods are not high, just in sugar. And that's another really important reason why we should be viewing the food as a whole. Those foods also contain a huge amount of calories provide by the fat. Sometimes often more calories come from the fat than from the sugar. So, for example, in the case of a donut, more calories in that donut come from fat. Now fat's not bad for us, but in the context of a donut, it's providing a whole heap of calories in a very easy, tasty, easy to over eat parcel. And that's another reason why it's important to not focus on nutrients individually but to think about the food as a whole. There are a couple of situations where your sugar intake might need to be paid attention to, and you might need to consider reducing it. The first is if it is driving a large excess of calories. So if you are eating a calorie surplus, and you're gaining unwanted weight, you're gaining unwanted body fat, and what's driving that is an overconsumption of products that are high in sugar, maybe also high in other things. Then that is when you would need to look at potentially reducing your sugar intake. The other scenario is where maybe it's not contributing to excess calories, but it's displacing other healthy foods. So you are not eating an excess of calories due to the sugar, but you are managing to do that by kind of replacing fruits and vegetables and grains and healthy fats and protein. You're removing those from your diet to kind of sneak in more sugar. Basically, you're kind of playing calorie Tetris because you've realized like, "Oh, two Arena snakes is the same amount of calories as a banana. Why would I eat the banana?" So if you're playing that game very frequently, then yes, absolutely the sugar in your diet then is something that you should probably assess. However, if you are taking sort of the other nutrition boxes, you are getting adequate protein, you're getting your healthy fats, you're getting fiber, you're getting vitamins and minerals. And then you're also consuming some added sugar and some sugary foods on top of all of that. And that diet as a whole is not causing you to eat an excessive amount of calories and gain unwanted body weight. That is completely fine. That is completely healthy. You don't get any bonus points for removing that sugar and replacing it with a different nutrient providing all of those other underlying boxes have been ticked. The analogy I always like to use is it's kind of like how you choose to spend. You're spending money during the week. So for example, you get paid, you've got your budget, you've got to pay rent or your mortgage, you've got to buy food, you've got to buy petrol, you've got to pay your bills. These are the things we have to buy. And these are similar to the protein, the fiber, the healthy fats, the vitamins, the minerals. Those are the food components that we "have to buy." Ideally though, at the end of each week, you've got some money left over to budget to do whatever you want with it. Maybe you want to go to the movies. Maybe you want to buy that shirt, or maybe you want to, whatever the case may be. Whatever you choose to spend that extra spending money on, it doesn't really matter. It doesn't matter what you're spending money on as long as you don't spend too much of your spending money, as long as you don't rack up credit card debt and go into... And really, that is the same approach we want to be taking with sugar in our diet. How you choose to spend those leftover calories that you haven't spent on the health, supporting parts of your diet, how you choose to spend the rest of those is really pretty irrelevant. So hopefully, that has given you a bit of a better understanding of sugar, knowing that it's not something to be feared. Yes, it is something to be aware of, particularly lots and lots of added sugar is creeping into your diet, particularly if that is then causing you to eat an excessive calories or causing you to kind of remove other healthy foods from your diet to fit in more sugar. But if those two situations aren't occurring, if you're not currently gaining unwanted body weight, do not worry about it. So thanks for listening. If you liked it, share, post review, et cetera, send via Messenger, Pigeon. If you actually liked it, if you could throw it up in your Instagram stories and tag me, that would be amazing. That's probably where I spend far too much of my time. So it'd be good to see you all there. Otherwise, thanks for listening. And I'll catch you next week.

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