The 5 Unexpected Benefits of Sugar
It often seems like you can’t browse the news for two minutes without seeing a study (or advertisement) about the dangers of sugar. According to many experts, sugar is the ONE Thing most people need to eat less of, but there is debate about how long we need to go without eating sugar or whether omitting sugar means avoiding fruit and dairy as well as candy and soda.
In short, if we set a goal that’s too expansive or lacks clarity, we’re bound to fail.
At The ONE Thing, we teach that extraordinary results happen when you prioritize ONE goal and form small, easy-to-maintain habits in order to achieve it. This philosophy applies to every area of your life, including your health, and many of the goals our community sets are about eating healthier, getting fit, and getting the mental clarity to be more productive.
As an example of the way The ONE Thing’s strategies can positively impact your health (including your snack habits), our team compiled a few tips to help you limit your sugar intake while still reaping the sweet benefits.
Sweet Benefit #1 – Sugar Can Provide an Immediate Burst of Energy
A healthy diet that supports productivity includes sugar. Glucose is the body’s primary source of fuel, and it comes from the breakdown of sugar. Sucrose contains a fructose molecule and a glucose molecule. The body splits the molecules apart, and insulin helps transport the glucose to cells where it’s instantly metabolized and converted into energy. Without glucose, we wouldn’t have the stamina to keep up with our busy schedules.
The best way to get a jolt of energy from natural sugar is to keep fruit or dairy products around, but not all of us are fruit lovers or have easy access to unprocessed food every day. If you won’t or can’t snack on an apple, try limiting the portions of the added sugar treats you love, or combine them with a protein-rich, vending machine-friendly snack like nuts. You may find yourself satisfied with half of your usual cookie or candy bar, and you’ll have some to save for later.
Sweet Benefit #2 – Sugar Helps You Store Energy for Later
Sugar can provide energy beyond the initial boost. After glucose is converted into energy for immediate use, the body will store some of the glucose as an energy reserve for later and release it during fasting (while we’re sleeping, for example) in a process called glycogenesis.
Glycogenesis allows us to go extended periods without eating, and while there are some busy days when that comes in handy, we should view sugar as a small piece of a health strategy rather than a solution. In other words, don’t make it a habit to eat a sugary snack or a few pieces of fruit, then starve yourself until you can’t focus. Aim for consistent, fulfilling meals and snacks (some sugar included) to keep your body energized throughout the day.
Sweet Benefit #3 – Sugar Can Provide an Instant Mood Boost
It should come as no surprise that sugar makes us happy. It activates the pleasure center of our brain and causes a rush of dopamine, producing an immediate euphoric feeling. Of course, too much of a good thing can cause the opposite effect, as anyone who has experienced a sugar crash knows.
At The ONE Thing, we know that willpower is not always on will-call. You can set yourself up for success by avoiding added sugar in breakfast, or whenever you know you have the most energy for discipline. That way, choosing a brownie when you’re exhausted becomes a treat that won’t push you over your sugar consumption limit for the day.
Sweet Benefit #4 –Naturally Sweet Chocolate Can Improve Thinking Skills
Chocolate is a source of natural sugar, but it also contains other healthy components. Each bite provides a surge of antioxidants along with cocoa flavanols. Researchers have discovered that cocoa flavanols can improve cognitive function, and studies out of Italy have found that it can even improve thinking skills regardless of whether a person has cognitive impairment.
Researchers haven’t pinpointed the exact cause for the sharper thinking skills, but they theorize that cocoa flavanols protect against brain cell damage and help create connections within the brain. For the biggest cognitive boost, stick to minimally-processed dark chocolate, which contains the highest levels of cocoa flavanols. You’ll also get an extra surge of sweetness and flavanols by choosing dark chocolate infused with berries.
Sweet Benefit #5 – Natural Sugar Sources Come With Added Nutrients
When you select natural sources of sugar they usually include healthy nutrients alongside their sweet counterparts. Dairy products, fruits, and veggies all provide natural sugars in addition to fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and hydration. You can indulge in natural sweets without creating unhealthy insulin spikes.
In summation, one of the best ways to limit sugar consumption is to include it in your health plan rather than swearing off it cold turkey. That’s difficult to do in American society and can bar foods that are full of other nutrients. Instead, develop small, attainable habits that can help you limit (but still enjoy!) added sugars and boost your diet with natural sugars.
You don’t have to reframe your relationship with sugar or pursue any of your other goals by yourself. The ONE Thing Community exists to support you as you grow, and you can try membership out for free for 14 days. We’ll help you get clarity on your goals for your health, career, personal relationships, and more, and we’ll give you the tools you need to make those goals a reality. Join us today and get on the path to the life you want!