This is a touchy topic – and something a lot of my personal training clients struggle to get their heads around.
I will break this down so you can take it all in.
Sugar as such does NOT make you fat.
Sugar has calories. Calories are a form of energy.
Energy is either stored if their is excess, or burnt off if it is needed.
So **PURELY HYPOTHETICALLY** (and not taking into account any of the health side effects you would suffer), if you ate nothing but refined sugar but were still eating less than you were burning off, you would still in all likeliness NOT gain fat.
The body cannot create energy out of nothing so if you are not putting in enough energy to store extra, your body won’t store extra.
Ok admittedly that is an extreme example, but I want to hammer home the point that sugar on it’s own isn’t inherently *good* or *bad* for fat loss – it is just another source of fuel.
However it does have some effects on the body which can indeed make sticking to a fat loss plan much more difficult, and alongside alcohol is usually the most common struggle for my Sidcup personal training clients.
There is a good amount of science to this, but I am trying to strip it back to the basics that you need to know.
The first issue is how your body reacts to sugar. It is digested quickly so you get an energy surge and then when it’s used up, your energy levels crash. So you need something else for fuel again. This can make you hungry more often which can mean you’ll eat more overall and over time, this can lead to fat gain.
The second one is purely and simply the fact that most foods with sugar are extremely palatable and very easy to lose portion control with. Have you ever opened a packet of biscuits and not been able to stop at just 1? Have you ever had leftover dessert in the fridge which you keep going back to and picking at? And when you’re stressed, is something sweet your go-to choice for comfort eating?
If you can manage portion control and monitor your intake, this won’t be a problem but for a lot of people moderating intake can be extremely difficult and that is where trouble starts.
So should you give up sugar if your aim is fat loss?
No you should still be able to enjoy some sugary treats – that is what makes fat loss sustainable and fits in with your lifestyle so you can set yourself up for long term success.
It will be easier for you to stick to your eating plan if you give yourself more stable energy releases – so complex carbs, natural fats, proteins and fibre – so the energy is released slower and you feel fuller for longer.
Giving up sugar won’t be necessary, but keeping a lid on how much would help you massively.