Flexible Dieting: What’s the Deal with SUGAR?!?!

SUGAR SUGAR SUGAR!  This gets such a bad reputation now-a-days.  I don’t know about you, but I’d probably say that I crave sugar [and salty foods] the most!  Think back to the good ole days when research was constantly changing about nutrition – first it was low-cab/high-fat diets, then it was high protein intake was the worst, and now it’s “sugar will make you fat” so we MUST avoid it at all costs!  The list will probably go on and on and constantly change in the future.  Well, I found some reputable articles that I liked and wanted to share them with you along with my thoughts so check them out!  But first, here’s some background information on sugar first.

What is sugar?

Sugar is a carbohydrate (CHO) – in fact, it is a SIMPLE-CHO that, when digested, enters the blood stream very quickly to help spike blood insulin levels [if blood insulin levels are low]. There are actually two types of sugar – monosaccharides and diasaccharides.  Some examples of monosaccharides include:  fructose (fruit sugar), galactose (milk sugar), and glucose (grape sugar); examples of diasaccharides include:  lactose (milk sugar), maltose (grain sugar), and sucrose (plant sugar).¹

How do I understand sugar on a nutrition label?

From the American Diabetes Association website, it states that we should to look at the “TOTAL CHO” count, which accounts for all CHO involved with that specific food; this includes the amount of simple + complex + fiber CHO counts.  This is why it’s important for those with diabetes to monitor CHO intake levels as this can impact his/her blood insulin levels (which is only one piece of the puzzle).  Side note:  so when counting your macros, remember to look at the TOTAL CHO with each food to make sure you’re closer to your number to help maintain accountability.¹


How much sugar is too much?

The World Health Organization recommends nothing more than 10% intake of total energy intake levels; however, there’s some current research out that that I have found to counteract this dispute.² Carry on…


I love this write up and it’s so true!  Don’t get me wrong – it’s nice to mix up a quick meal as a “drink” if you’re on the go, but as stated in the article: “The problem that arises however is nutritionally uneducated people (who are also on diets most of the time) are piling up their blenders with as much fruit as possible, most likely under that age old human mechanism of ‘if this is good for me then I need a lot of it.’ It’s not their fault their nutrition knowledge is lacking, if social media and the press are your only sources of nutrition knowledge then you will be behind.  So while they’ve made the right choice to increase their fruit intake, let’s not forget fruits are packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, they’ve inadvertently bumped up their calorie intake by several hundred calories.  Whole fruit on the other hand, does contain fiber, which further reduces the insulin response (Ullrich)”.³

Article #2:  POP TARTS MADE ME SHREDDED! WHAT?! (insert current Dairy Queen commercial voice here…)

I think this is most of us in current America – yes, we can all eat “clean” but again, it all comes down to the optimal intake of proper balancing of fats + carbs + protein [+fiber] on a daily basis.  One statement that caught my eye was:  “I was a staunch advocate of Paleo eating … and a low-carber at that.  This meant that my meals revolved around “good quality” foods such as grass-fed beef, wild caught salmon, almonds, walnuts, plenty of vegetables and everything was cooked in coconut oil or grass-fed butter. (Because as a Paleo-er, you’ve GOT to get those good fats in.) I didn’t eat dairy.  I wasn’t lactose intolerant, I just knew that dairy was the devil, and the sugars in milk, cottage cheese, or even some Greek yogurt could potentially blunt my fat burning.  I avoided gluten like the plague. I wasn’t celiac, but again, I’d read enough articles to know that gluten was just bad news, so I got rid of all the bread, pasta and cereals from my diet.  Whenever I went out for a meal, I didn’t even need to look at the menu – I’d order a steak and salad, insisting that the dressing came on the side, and that the steak wasn’t cooked in oil.  As for artificial sweeteners – heaven forbid! I’d heard from nutrition authorities that these were worse than sugar, and associated with cancer.  Ergo, they were bad news”.4


This article is probably my favorite; not only is it a great review from one of my favorite nutritional scientists, Dr. Layne Norton, but it truthfully puts the reputation of sugar in perspective!  Per Dr. Norton’s statement:  “Anything can be a toxin—it’s the dosage that makes it poison.  All this data suggests that differences in weight gain or loss result from more sugar and more calories overall, rather than sugar consumption specifically.  If overall calories are controlled, there is no difference in fat loss.  Even the most demonized of sugars, high-fructose corn syrup, has been demonstrated not to impede fat loss or improvements in blood lipids when calories are controlled”.5

Conclusion and final thoughts!

So, is it really the actual intake of sugar doing the damage, or the extra calories it brings along?  I 100% agree with Dr. Norton that the poison is in the dosage!  Just like with anything else that is consumed, if it’s too much, then things will be unbalanced and the body will do as much as it can to maintain homeostasis during any situation (that could ultimately mean holding onto fat!). Realistically, we need to develop a way to make it an “optimal” intake of balanced fat + carb + protein [+ fiber] intake levels – input FLEXIBLE DIETING here.  Hope this helps with your nutrition journey!  Keep educating yourself and make sure your sources are legit!  #happyeating #teambullseyenutrition


  1. http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what-can-i-eat/understanding-carbohydrates/types-of-carbohydrates.html?referrer=http://www.bing.com/search?q=what%20are%20the%20types%20of%20sugar%3F&pc=cosp&ptag=C1N0021D010814A316A5D3C6E&form=CONBDF&conlogo=CT3210127.
  2. World Health Organization lowers sugar intake recommendations. (n.d.). Retrieved September 1, 2016, from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/world-health-organization-lowers-sugar-intake-recommendations/.
  3. Smith, S. (2015, February 8). Is Fructose Really Making Us Fat? | Biolayne.com. Retrieved September 1, 2016, from https://www.biolayne.com/articles/nutrition/biolayne-guest-blog-post-stephen-smith-is-fructose-really-making-us-fat/.
  4. Samuels, M. (2016, May 12). How Paleo Made Me Fat … and Pop Tarts Got Me Shredded | Biolayne.com. Retrieved September 1, 2016, from https://www.biolayne.com/articles/nutrition/paleo-made-fat-pop-tarts-got-shredded/.
  5. Norton, L. (2016, August 26). The Science Of Sugar And Fat Loss. Retrieved September 1, 2016, from http://www.bodybuilding.com/content/the-science-of-sugar-and-fat-loss.html.

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