Ever since I started this site, I have been writing posts defending sugar. Fear of sugar is one of the most deeply ingrained diet beliefs, from people saying it causes disease and inflammation, to saying it’s as addictive as cocaine or herion. Sugar fear mongering is everywhere, it’s bullshit, and with the aid of actual science, I am going to defend it.
We think that restricting carbs and sugar will help us burn fat, become healthy, and maybe even become immortal.
What is actually happening when we restrict carbs, is a crisis mode run by stress hormones that creates inflammation and a slow metabolism, and essentially adds to the likelihood of developing or worsening metabolic disorder, and every other inflammation-caused disease (every disease).
When you restrict carbs, you will burn fat in the beginning, but not sustainably, and it won’t last.
Chronic stress leads to inflammation and lowered immunity which often leads to disease.
Dieting leads to chronic stress, which leads to inflammation and lowered immunity which often leads to disease.
This is just one of the reasons why dieting is bad for your health. Not to mention malnutrition, etc.
Yes this is the opposite of what you have been told. This is the opposite of what I believed about sugar and my health (pcos/insulin resistance for years).
If you want it broken down even more, this is the most specific I have ever gotten with the science of restriction…
This is why restricting calories or restricting carbs, will backfire, raise stress-hormones, and hurt your health in the long-run:
Whenever our output exceeds our input – meaning you aren’t eating enough, resting enough, or aren’t eating enough carbs, the body releases adrenaline and cortisol, the two major stress hormones that help the body to create fast fuel for your cells.
Without fuel for our cells, we die. It’s that simple.
Sugar (glucose) is the most efficient fuel source for our cells, because it uses the least oxygen, makes the most usable energy, and creates the most carbon dioxide. And carbon dioxide removes calcium and sodium from cells, keeping them stable (and not inflamed).
The first stress hormone, adrenaline, finds glycogen in the muscles and liver to burn for fuel. After that, adrenaline will burn fat – which is not good for your health or metabolism, because adrenaline uses three times as much oxygen to burn fat for fuel, creates less carbon dioxide and less energy – which creates inflammation.
Adrenaline burns fat fast (and temporarily) but uses up oxygen, and leads to inflammation.
The second stress hormone, cortisol, will pull amino acids from the skin, thymus, and muscle, which are taken to the liver to be used for energy. This lowers thyroid function, digestive juices, body temperature, and pulse…
Cortisol impairs metabolism, digestion, assimilation, and nutrition.
So again: Restriction of calories, or restriction of carbs, lowers your metabolism and creates inflammation, and has you running on stress hormones.
In addition, any time you are in fight-or-flight (read: STRESS), a similar dynamic is taking place in your body which is why stress creates inflammation and an impaired system and metabolism.
This means that the stress of hating your body leads to inflammation and lowered immunity which can lead to disease.
… Being scared of what you just ate, feeling guilty that you’re full, or having general overwhelm when you eat leads to inflammation and lowered immunity which can lead to disease.
Sugar is an unfairly demonized macronutrient.
Sugar is really just pure fuel that keeps us alive minute to minute, actually can lower stress hormones, and is required in the blood at all times (blood sugar).
Denying the body easily accessible sugar requires the body to create glucose in a complicated process that raises stress hormones, creates inflammation, and impairs the metabolism.
The less you eat carbs, the more likely you will become chronically hypoglycemic. Your body perceives low blood sugar as a stressor which kicks adrenal glands into overdrive and pumps out stress hormones.
It also assumes you’re in starvation mode which will make it counteract with ghrelin, the hunger hormone, which keeps you hungry and slows down your metabolism.
Meaning, the less you eat carbs, the slower your body will burn fuel and the slower your metabolism becomes. And the worse your health will become – in the long run. And I promise you, that’s not what you’re looking for.
In this state, you are more likely to then binge and yo-yo, and stay perpetually in a whacked out glycemic roller coaster for all of your days.
You can also think about it this way: Sugar is meant to feel addictive when we aren’t eating enough of it — because we need it. And unlike other substances, when you actually let yourself eat it, it has a restorative and calming effect on the body and metabolism, and your body won’t feel addicted to it anymore.
Like oxygen and sleep. Eating carbs allows the appetite and body to calm down, and is the only way to experience easy, normal eating.