Deep Dive

SUGAR

People really love sugar. From a very young age, we instinctively recognize anything sweet as good to eat.

We evolved to seek out sweet foods

Our ancestors weren’t worried about eating too much sugar. If they found something sweet, they ate it. In fact, we have an evolved preference for sweets. Sour food is unripe, bitter food might be poisonous. If our ancestors found sweet food, they made sure they ate or collected it all. But a ripe berry is not a donut. The first is filled with important nutrients, while the other is filled with… nothing much. And with all the modern sugary snacks, you can easily take in 2,000 calories a day without ever eating an essential nutrient. Because of this, your evolved reward mechanisms are working against you. Every time you “find” some sugar, your brain rewards you with a hit of dopamine. The dopamine triggers the same reaction triggered by substances like nicotine, heroin and cocaine.

If you’re used to eating a lot of sugar and have trouble staying away from sweets, you might benefit from doing a dietary reset (like our Fresh Start program).

Starches: the hidden sugar

Many modern staples (like corn, rice, grains and potatoes) are starchy foods. A starch is a long chain of sugar molecules that are chemically strung together. Unlike fats and proteins, starches are very easy to digest, and your saliva is capable of breaking most of them down. This means that most of the starches you eat have already turned into sugars before they hit your digestive system (a notable exception are resistant starches). Although it’s not entirely fair to classify starches as sugar, it’s also not that far off. In general, it is wise to limit your consumption of both obviously sugary foods (like cakes, candy and soft drinks) as well as starchy foods (like bread, fries and pasta).

The coconut blossom and agave nectar hype

A lot of words are wasted on the internet to convince you which sugars are the best and the worst for you. This is not very useful, because in your blood there is no difference between coconut sugar or sugar from sugar beets. All sugars cause blood sugar spikes and increase insulin production. Adding trendy “natural” sweeteners to your food and drinks just perpetuates your bad habits with other ingredients (the same is true for replacing modern starches with fancy almond meal). We advise you stop adding sweeteners (natural or artificial) to your meals and coffee completely. We do let you earn a little bit of honey to use during cooking, but that’s it. Humans in the wild would have to steal honey from a nest full of bees first. It’s safe to say they would not be eating big heaps of it.

The bottom line is: limit your sugar consumption. Leave sugars, natural or not, out whenever they are not necessary. On the other hand, if the occasional added sugar slips through, don’t worry about it. Sugar is not poisonous, and your body can handle smaller amounts of it fine, especially if you lead an active life. If you are constantly worrying about how much sugar you are eating, it will only lead to a sugar obsession.