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All carbs are sugar: Get to Know Carbs | ADA


Get to Know Carbs | ADA

Carbohydrates or “carbs” get a lot of attention these days and it’s no secret that carbs can affect your blood sugar (blood glucose). You might be wondering if you should eat less of them, or even eat them at all. You’re not alone!

Carbs come in many different forms, but the main three are starch, fiber, and sugar. When purchasing packaged food, the term “total carbohydrate” refers to all three of these types. Learn more about nutrition labels. So how much is the right amount?

Let’s start with the basics. All food is made up of three main nutrients: carbohydrates, protein and fat. You need all three to stay healthy, but each person needs a different amount. When choosing carbs, the key is choosing complex carbs—the ones that give you the most bang for your buck in terms of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Complex carbohydrates are digested slower, therefore they are less likely to cause a rapid spike in your blood sugar like refined carbohydrates. Examples are whole grains and legumes.

Processed foods tend to be high in carbs, especially refined carbohydrates, while also being very low in vitamins, minerals and fiber—giving carbs a bad rap. But choosing fewer processed carb foods and paying attention to how much you are eating can make a big difference in your blood sugar and overall health.

Now, let’s dig into the types of foods that have carbs—and how to choose higher quality sources.


Try to target whole, minimally processed carbohydrate foods. If you’re using the Plate Method, foods in this category should make up about a quarter of your plate. Foods high in starch include:

  • Starchy vegetables like corn, winter squash and potatoes
  • Legumes and pulses, including lentils, beans (like kidney beans, pinto beans and black beans) and peas (think split peas and black-eyed peas)
  • Grains including foods made from wheat like noodles and pasta, bread and crackers, as well as rice and others

Whole grains are just that: the whole plant that has been harvested and dried with little processing. They provide fiber as well as essential vitamins including B and E and other minerals needed for optimal health. Examples include oats, barley, bulgur, quinoa, brown rice, farro and amaranth. At least half of your daily grain intake should come from whole grains.

Wondering what the deal is with “refined grains”? Basically, these grains are processed to remove the outer layers and most nutritious parts of the grain, meaning that we’re missing out on all the beneficial fiber, vitamins and minerals that the whole grain would typically provide. To avoid diseases caused by vitamin and mineral deficiencies, there are laws in place to make sure that essential vitamins and minerals be added back in during processing—this is what “enriched” means when you see it on the label.

Bottom line: when reading the ingredient list, look for products that list “whole grain” or “whole wheat” as the first ingredient as opposed to “enriched.”


Fiber comes from plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables and whole, intact grains. Fiber acts like your body’s natural scrub brush—it passes through your digestive tract, carrying a lot of bad stuff out with it. It also keeps us feeling full, and helps lower cholesterol. Those aren’t the only benefits: eating foods higher in fiber can also improve your digestion, help you manage your blood sugar and reduce your risk of heart disease.

People with diabetes and those at risk for diabetes are encouraged to eat at least the same amount of dietary fiber recommended for all Americans. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend a minimum of 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories. You can find specific recommendations for your age group and gender in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA). 

Keep in mind that if you haven’t been eating a lot of foods high in fiber on a daily basis, it’s important to increase your intake slowly to allow your body to adjust. A sudden increase in eating foods high in fiber (especially foods with added fiber or when using supplements) can cause gas, bloating or constipation. Be sure you are drinking enough water too, because fiber needs water to move through your body!

Good sources of dietary fiber include:

  • Pulses (like lentils and peas) and beans and legumes (think navy beans, small white beans, split peas, chickpeas, lentils, pinto beans) 
  • Fruits and vegetables, especially those with edible skin (like pears and apples) and those with edible seeds (like berries)
  • Nuts—try different kinds (pumpkin seeds, almonds, sunflower seeds, pistachios and peanuts are a good source of fiber and healthy fats, but be mindful of portion sizes, because they also contain a lot of calories in a small amount!)
  • Whole grains such as:
    • Quinoa, barley, bulgur, oats, brown rice and farro
    • Whole wheat pasta
    • Whole grain cereals, including those made from whole wheat, wheat bran and oats

Foods that are naturally high in fiber and contain at least 2.5 grams are often labeled as a “good source,” and foods labeled as “excellent source” contain more than 5 grams of fiber per serving.

While it’s best to get your fiber from food, talk to your diabetes care team to determine if you should consider a fiber supplement.


Sugar is another source of carbs. There are two main types:

  • Naturally occurring sugars like those in milk or fruit
  • Added sugars, which are added during processing, like in regular soda, sweets and baked goods

Added sugars, when consumed with solid fats and excess energy intake, have been linked to health concerns, including overweight and obesity, type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, inflammation and cardiovascular disease. You may have heard added sugars referred to by other names—or seen one of these listed in the ingredients in a food label. Dextrose, fructose, lactose, table sugar, beet sugar, honey, corn syrup, turbinado and agave are just some of the many names for added sugars.

Finding the amount of sugar

Did you know that you can find the amount of both added and naturally occurring sugars listed in the new nutrition facts label? Learn how to decode the label.

Sugar Alcohols

Another item you may find on some foods’ nutrition facts label under total carbohydrates are sugar alcohols. Sugar alcohols are sweeteners that have about half the calories of regular sugar. Despite their name, they are neither a sugar nor and alcohol. They occur naturally in certain fruits and vegetables, but some are man-made and are added to processed foods. Many foods labeled “sugar free” or “no sugar added” have sugar alcohols in them

Sugar Substitutes

There are so many products on the market now that are referred to as sugar substitutes. Most of these are nonnutritive sweeteners, which means that one serving of the product contains little or no calories or impact on blood glucose. Because these sweeteners are sweeter than sugar, they can be used in smaller amounts. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reviewed several sugar substitutes and has approved or recognized them as safe for the public, including people with diabetes. These are:

  • Saccharin (Sweet’n low)
  • Neotame (Newtame)
  • AcesulfameK (Sunett, Sweet One)
  • Aspartame (Nutrasweet, Equal, Sugar Twin)
  • Sucralose (Splenda)
  • Advantame
  • Stevia
  • Luo han guo (monk fruit)

Most of these products are not broken down by the body; this means they pass through our system without providing calories. For some people, using these products are great alternatives to sugar. The potential decrease in calories and carbs could lead to better long-term blood sugar, weight and/or cardiometabolic health (think: heart and metabolism).

A word of caution—claims like “sugar-free,” “reduced sugar” or “no sugar added” are not necessarily carbohydrate-free or lower in carbohydrate than the original version of the food. We recommend that you read the Nutrition Facts label to understand how many carbs and calories you are eating.

It’s also important to know that at this time, there is no clear evidence to suggest that using sugar substitutes will help with managing blood sugar or weight or improving cardiometabolic health in the long run. So here’s the bottom line:

  • Sugar substitutes are effective alternatives to sugar for some people, but not a perfect fit for all—it’s a personal choice.
  • If you’re looking to reduce your intake of sugar or sugar substitutes, start slowly. For example, start by replacing one soda or juice with water or a no-calorie drink at a time.
  • Water will always be a great choice! If you start feeling yourself get bored with just water, you can always spruce it up with fruits or herbs like this sparkling strawberry mint infused water.

What are “Net Carbs?”

While you might see it on some food packaging, the term “net carbs” does not have a legal definition and is not used by the Food and Drug Administration or recognized by American Diabetes Association. The FDA recommends using total carbohydrates on the nutrition facts label.

“Net carbs” are determined by subtracting any fiber or sugar alcohols on the label from the total carbohydrates. This is assuming that fiber and sugar alcohols are not absorbed or metabolized, but this is not always true, and some are partially digested and therefore still provide calories as well as impact blood sugar. The equation used to calculate net carbs is not entirely accurate because the contribution of fiber and sugar alcohols to total carbohydrates depends on the types present. The type of fiber or sugar alcohols used is not indicated on the nutrition facts label, therefore the effect on blood glucose and possible insulin therapy adjustments cannot be determined precisely.

For this reason, we recommend using the total grams of carbohydrate and closely monitoring your blood sugar when consuming foods high in fiber or sugar alcohol to determine how they affect your body. Learn more about “net carbs” and other nutrient claims you might find on the nutrition facts label.

Simple vs Complex Carbohydrates – Difference Between Simple Sugars and Starches

Carbohydrates are sugars that come in 2 main forms – simple and complex. This is also referred to as simple sugars and starches.

The difference between a simple and complex carb is in how quickly it is digested and absorbed – as well as it’s chemical structure.

Most carbohydrates can be broken down by digestion into glucose and these are the carbohydrates we shall look at in this article.

For examples of carbohydrates that do not get fully broken down into glucose, see insoluble fibre and sugar alcohols

Simple carbohydrates

Simple carbohydrates are called simple sugars. Sugars are found in a variety of natural food sources including fruit, vegetables and milk, and give food a sweet taste. But they also raise blood glucose levels quickly

Sugars can be categorised as single sugars (monosaccharides), which include glucose, fructose and galactose, or double sugars (disaccharides), which include sucrose (table sugar), lactose and maltose.

Many processed foods contain added sugars but currently there is no UK law that requires manufacturers to state how much sugar has been added in processing

The NHS advises adults to consume less than 70g a day of sugar for men and under 50g of sugar a day for women However, people with diabetes will benefit from better blood glucose levels if sugar intake can be limited to lower levels.

Because sugars provide no nutrition aside from energy (hence why they are often referred to as empty calories), people looking to lose weight will also benefit from eliminating sources of added sugar from their diet.

Note that if you are at risk of hypoglycemia, never worry about taking sugar if it is to avoid or treat a hypo

Complex carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates, also known as polysaccharides, are starches formed by longer saccharide chains, which means they take longer to break down.

Chemically, they usually comprise of three or more linked sugars.

Strictly speaking, the term complex carbohydrate refers to any starches, including the highly refined starches found in:

  • White bread
  • Cakes
  • Most pastries and
  • Many other food sources

When dietitians and nutritionists advise having complex carbohydrates, however, they are usually referring to whole grain foods and starchy vegetables which are more slowly absorbed than refined carbohydrate.

Whole grain foods

Whole grain starches include the wheat grain and kernel which provide the majority of fibre and nutrients to be found in starchy foods.

When it comes to picking starchy foods, such as rice, bread and any other products made from flour, it’s best to opt for whole grain versions of these products.

Whilst whole grain foods impact upon blood glucose levels more slowly than other forms of carbohydrate, higher levels of carbohydrate can still raise blood sugar levels substantially.

Blood glucose testing before and meals is a good way to assess how much carbohydrate your body can adequately cope with.

Refined carbohydrates

Refined carbohydrates refer to carbohydrates that have been processed.

In grain products, the bran and kernel are stripped out, leaving just the starch. With much of the fibre removed in this way, the carbohydrate is broken down by the body more quickly and can sometimes raise blood glucose levels as quickly as simple sugars.

Simple sugars can also be refined. A prominent example of a processed sugar is glucose-fructose syrup, also known as high fructose corn syrup. Glucose-fructose syrup is corn syrup which has been treated with enzymes to turn a proportion of the syrup’s glucose into fructose.

Carbohydrates: MedlinePlus

What are carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates, or carbs, are sugar molecules. Along with proteins and fats, carbohydrates are one of three main nutrients found in foods and drinks.

Your body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose. Glucose, or blood sugar, is the main source of energy for your body’s cells, tissues, and organs. Glucose can be used immediately or stored in the liver and muscles for later use.

What are the different types of carbohydrates?

There are three main types of carbohydrates:

  • Sugars. They are also called simple carbohydrates because they are in the most basic form. They can be added to foods, such as the sugar in candy, desserts, processed foods, and regular soda. They also include the kinds of sugar that are found naturally in fruits, vegetables, and milk.
  • Starches. They are complex carbohydrates, which are made of lots of simple sugars strung together. Your body needs to break starches down into sugars to use them for energy. Starches include bread, cereal, and pasta. They also include certain vegetables, like potatoes, peas, and corn.
  • Fiber. It is also a complex carbohydrate. Your body cannot break down most fibers, so eating foods with fiber can help you feel full and make you less likely to overeat. Diets high in fiber have other health benefits. They may help prevent stomach or intestinal problems, such as constipation. They may also help lower cholesterol and blood sugar. Fiber is found in many foods that come from plants, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, and whole grains.

Which foods have carbohydrates?

Common foods with carbohydrates include

  • Grains, such as bread, noodles, pasta, crackers, cereals, and rice
  • Fruits, such as apples, bananas, berries, mangoes, melons, and oranges
  • Dairy products, such as milk and yogurt
  • Legumes, including dried beans, lentils, and peas
  • Snack foods and sweets, such as cakes, cookies, candy, and other desserts
  • Juices, regular sodas, fruit drinks, sports drinks, and energy drinks that contain sugar
  • Starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, corn, and peas

Some foods don’t have a lot of carbohydrates, such as meat, fish, poultry, some types of cheese, nuts, and oils.

Which types of carbohydrates should I eat?

You do need to eat some carbohydrates to give your body energy. But it’s important to eat the right kinds of carbohydrates for your health:

  • When eating grains, choose mostly whole grains and not refined grains:
    • Whole grains are foods like whole wheat bread, brown rice, whole cornmeal, and oatmeal. They offer lots of nutrients that your body needs, like vitamins, minerals, and fiber. To figure out whether a product has a lot of whole grain, check the ingredients list on the package and see if a whole grain is one of the first few items listed.
    • Refined grains are foods that have had some of the grains removed. This also removes some of the nutrients that are good for your health.
  • Eat foods with lots of fiber. The Nutrition Facts label on the back of food packages tells you how much fiber a product has.
  • Try to avoid foods that have a lot of added sugar. These foods can have many calories but not much nutrition. Eating too much added sugar raises your blood sugar and can make you gain weight. You can tell if a food or drink has added sugars by looking at the Nutrition Facts label on the back of food package. It tells you how much total sugar and added sugar is in that food or drink.

How many carbohydrates should I eat?

There is no one-size-fits-all amount of carbohydrates that people should eat. This amount can vary, depending on factors such as your age, sex, health, and whether or not you are trying to lose or gain weight. On average, people should get 45 to 65% of their calories from carbohydrates every day. On the Nutrition Facts labels, the Daily Value for total carbohydrates is 275 g per day. This is based on a 2,000-calorie daily diet. Your Daily Value may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs and health.

Is it safe to eat a low-carb diet?

Some people go on a low-carb diet to try to lose weight. This usually means eating 25g and 150g of carbs each day. This kind of diet can be safe, but you should talk to your health care provider before starting it. One problem with low-carb diets is that they can limit the amount of fiber you get each day. They can also be hard to stay on for the long term.

Good vs. Bad Carbohydrates: How Do You Tell the Difference?

On nutrition labels, added sugars can go by several different names, including brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, fructose, glucose, maltose, malt syrup, sucrose, honey, agave nectar, molasses, and fruit juice concentrates, according to Harvard Health Publishing. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) now requires all nutrition labels to clearly identify the number of added sugars per serving in the product, directly beneath the total sugar count.

RELATED: Which Sugars Are Good for You — and Which Ones to Avoid

Then there are complex carbohydrates, which are found in whole grains, legumes, and vegetables, and contain longer chains of sugar molecules, according to MedlinePlus. “Complex carbs have an additional component — fiber, which is technically a type of carbohydrate, but it’s not digested and absorbed,” Galvin says. “That not only feeds the good gut bacteria, but it also allows for the absorption of the carbohydrate to be slower into the bloodstream, so it won’t spike glucose levels and insulin levels like a simple carbohydrate would.”

This in turn provides you with a more consistent amount of energy, says Sandra Meyerowitz, MPH, RD, a nutritionist and owner of Nutrition Works in Louisville, Kentucky.

RELATED: 11 High-Fiber Foods to Add to Your Diet

The Details on Simple Carbohydrates

Foods that contain simple carbohydrates aren’t necessarily bad — it depends on the food. For instance, fruits and dairy products contain some simple carbs, but they are drastically different from other foods that contain simple carbs, like cookies and cakes. Processed sweets tend to contain refined sugar, too, and lack key nutrients your body needs to be healthy, according to the AHA.

“There are health benefits to eating fruit versus eating a piece of white bread,” Galvin says. “Fruit does contain fiber, and also antioxidants and polyphenols and other good nutritional benefits.”

Dairy also contains healthy nutrients, such as calcium, protein, and sometimes probiotics (if live active cultures are present), Galvin says. The protein component is key to helping dairy behave more like a complex carbohydrate. “Protein helps slow the absorption of carbohydrates into the bloodstream and helps keep appetite levels steady so you don’t have swings of insulin levels and blood glucose going up and down,” Galvin says.

RELATED: The Lowdown on Glycemic Load

According to MedlinePlus, simple carbohydrates to limit or eliminate in your diet include those found in:

And Galvin says that in general, you don’t want to overdo your fruit intake, either. “You still have to be careful with fruit, because it is going to be more rapidly absorbed than something like sweet potatoes or beans that are very high in fiber,” she says.

Dr. Meyerowitz says that you can enjoy simple carbohydrates on occasion — you just don’t want them to be your primary sources of carbs.

RELATED: 10 Surprising Ways to Use Black Beans

The Details on Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are considered “good” because of the longer molecules of sugars they are made of, which the body takes longer to break down, according to the Cleveland Clinic. That means the glucose will be released at a more consistent rate — instead of peaks and valleys — to keep you going throughout the day.

Foods with complex carbohydrates also typically have more important nutrients, including fiber and B vitamins, than foods containing more simple carbohydrates — as long as you’re choosing whole grains over processed ones, says the Mayo Clinic. For example, whole grains, such as whole-wheat flour, bulgur, brown rice, oatmeal, and whole cornmeal provide more nutrients than processed grains, such as white rice and breads or baked goods made with white flour, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

As an example, take a look at how the nutrients in white bread compare with those found in whole-wheat bread, both from the brand Pepperidge Farm. Whole-wheat bread has fewer carbohydrates and more fiber, plus more potassium and folate.

White Bread

  • 130 calories
  • 4 grams (g) protein
  • 1 g fat
  • 26 g carbs
  • 1 g fiber
  • 4 g total sugars
  • 230 milligrams (mg) sodium
  • 40 mg calcium
  • 7 mg iron
  • 50 mg potassium
  • .2 mg thiamin
  • .1 mg riboflavin
  • 5 mg niacin
  • 95 micrograms (mcg) folate

100 Percent Whole-Wheat Bread

  • 130 calories
  • 5 g protein
  • 5 g fat
  • 23 g carbs
  • 4 g fiber
  • 4 g total sugars
  • 180 mg sodium
  • 40 mg calcium
  • 3 mg iron
  • 125 mg potassium
  • .1 mg thiamin
  • .1 mg riboflavin
  • 2 mg niacin
  • 10 mcg folate

According to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, nutrient-dense complex carbs to seek out for a healthy, balanced diet include:

  • 100 percent whole-wheat breads
  • Barley
  • Quinoa
  • Potatoes
  • Oatmeal
  • Beans

RELATED: 8 Whole Grains That Can Help Prevent or Manage Type 2 Diabetes

It’s important to scan ingredient labels for foods like breads and pastas, looking for whole grains and fewer sources of added sugar. “Read the box so you know what exactly you’re getting,” says Meyerowitz.

When trying to figure out if a source of carbohydrates is good or bad, remember this: “If you see anything like cane sugar, honey, molasses, maple sugar, even coconut sugar or agave — any of those added sugars anywhere in the first three or four ingredients — you want to put it back on the shelf,” Galvin says. These ingredients indicate the item is high in added sugars.

Instead, look for ingredients like whole-grain wheat flour, whole-grain oats, whole-grain quinoa, and the like. Those are examples of healthy complex carbs that contain more fiber, Galvin says. And don’t be fooled by “wheat bread.” “Wheat bread is just a fancy name for white bread,” Galvin says.

RELATED: 20 Popular Food and Nutrition Myths You Shouldn’t Believe

The Glycemic Load Factor

Simple or complex is one way to classify carbs, but nutritionists and dietitians now use another concept to guide people in making decisions about the carbs they choose to eat.

The glycemic index (GI) of a food indicates how quickly your blood sugar will rise after you eat that food, on a scale of 0 to 100, according to Better Health. Foods with a high GI (higher than 70) are easily digested and cause a quick rise in blood sugar. Foods with a low GI (lower than 55) get digested more slowly and the blood sugar response is flatter.

Knowing the GI for a specific food can help you understand how the carbs in that food will affect your blood sugar, but it’s important to point out that it doesn’t necessarily make a food unhealthy or healthy. According to the University of Sydney’s online international GI database, fruits like watermelon and cantaloupe both have a high GI, 72 and 70 respectively, but they are both healthy foods.

To take this approach one step further, you want to look at the glycemic load of a food. The glycemic load factors in both the glycemic index and how much carbohydrate is in the food, according to the University of Oregon. To determine glycemic load, you multiply a food’s glycemic index number by the amount of carbohydrate the food contains per serving, and divide by 100.

A low GL is 10 or less; medium is 11 to 19; and 20 or greater is considered high, per the University of Oregon.

A food can be considered high on the GI scale and low in terms of GL. For example, a banana has a GI of 55 and a GL of 13, according to the University of Oregon. Even if a food contains carbs that have a high GI, if the amount of carbohydrate is low then it won’t have as much of an impact. Another good example is watermelon, which has a high GI of 76 but a low GL of only 8, because it contains 11 g of carbohydrates per serving, according to the University of Oregon.

“Overall, glycemic load is going to be a better rating system than glycemic index because GI does not take into account the serving size,” Galvin says.

RELATED: How to Use MyPlate to Develop Healthy Eating Habits

What to Know About Net Carbs

Net carbs are another piece of the carbohydrate conversation. According to the Mayo Clinic, net carbs refers to the number of carbohydrates in a food minus fiber (though this term is not regulated by the FDA, so that definition may not be used by every food company and some may also subtract sugar alcohols). Because fiber does not significantly raise the body’s blood sugar levels, it can be taken out of the food’s total carb count to determine net carbs, according to the University of California in San Francisco (UCSF). For example, if a food contains 10 g of carbs, including 5 g of fiber, then it contains 5 g of net carbs.

Tracking net carbs is the foundation of some low-carb eating plans, such as Atkins or the keto diet. But if you’re not following those diets, it’s probably not a helpful thing to track, Galvin says. “You don’t necessarily have to worry about subtracting the fiber from the carbs if you’re just following a generally healthy diet,” she says. Galvin says you should, however, still aim to reach the recommended fiber intake, which is 28 g per day, according to the USDA.

The bottom line: Carbs are not bad for you. Carbohydrates — both simple and complex ones — are part of a healthy diet. Just be sensible about the carbs you choose. Skip low-nutrient desserts, consider the levels of sugar and fiber, and focus on healthy whole grains, fruits, and veggies to get the energy your body needs every day.

RELATED: A Detailed Guide to the Mediterranean Diet

More Tips for Making Healthy Carb Choices

The following resources and tools can help you discern good carbs from bad carbs.

  • Turn to tech. Specifically, try Figwee (available as Figwee Calorie Counter in the App Store and Figwee Visual Food Diary on Google Play; free) for a visual approach to food tracking. Type in a food and select the photo that most closely resembles what you’re eating. It’ll tell you the food’s carb content so you can keep track.
  • Get food-label savvy. Visit the USDA site for an in-depth explainer on how to read food labels.
  • Learn to make substitutions. Check out this website from Harvard Health Publishing for ways to substitute good carbs for bad ones.
  • Bookmark handy websites. For example, consider this page from the NIH your secret weapon for figuring out the serving size and carbohydrate content of different food groups, including veggies, fruits, and protein.
  • Brush up on your general carb knowledge. Quiz yourself on your carb knowledge through the UCSF site.

RELATED: The Top Healthy Food Trends of the Year

Refined Carbs and Sugar: The Diet Saboteurs

healthy eating

Bad or simple carbs are the comfort foods we often crave: pasta, fries, pizza, white bread, and sugary treats. Choosing good carbs instead can improve your health, mood, and waistline.

What are refined, simple, or “bad” carbs?

Bad or simple carbohydrates include sugars and refined grains that have been stripped of all bran, fiber, and nutrients, such as white bread, pizza dough, pasta, pastries, white flour, white rice, sweet desserts, and many breakfast cereals. They digest quickly and their high glycemic index causes unhealthy spikes in blood sugar levels. They can also cause fluctuations in mood and energy and a build-up of fat, especially around your waistline.

When you eat refined or simple carbs, your bloodstream is flooded with sugar which triggers a surge of insulin to clear the sugar from your blood. All this insulin can leave you feeling hungry soon after a meal, often craving more sugary carbs. This can cause you to overeat, put on weight, and over time lead to insulin resistance and type-2 diabetes. Diets high in refined carbs and sugar have also been linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, hyperactivity, mood disorders, and even suicide in teenagers.

Why is cutting down on sugar and refined carbs so difficult?

For many of us, cutting back on sugary treats and overcoming our carb cravings can seem like a daunting task. As well as being present in obvious foods such as sugary snacks, desserts, and candies, sugar is also hidden in much of the processed food we eat—from soda, coffee and fruit drinks to bread, pasta sauce, and frozen dinners. But cutting back on these diet saboteurs doesn’t mean feeling unsatisfied or never enjoying comfort food again. The key is to choose the right carbs. Complex, unrefined, or “good” carbs such as vegetables, whole grains, and naturally sweet fruit digest slower, resulting in stable blood sugar and less fat accumulation.

By focusing on whole foods and complex, unrefined carbs, you can reduce your intake of sugar and simple carbs, keep your blood sugar stable, maintain a healthy weight, and still find ways to satisfy your sweet tooth. You’ll not only feel healthier and more energetic, you could also shed that stubborn belly fat so many of us struggle with.

The not-so-sweet link between sugar and belly fat

A lot of belly fat surrounds the abdominal organs and liver and is closely linked to insulin resistance and an increased risk of diabetes. Calories obtained from fructose (found in sugary beverages such as soda, energy and sports drinks, coffee drinks, and processed foods like doughnuts, muffins, cereal, candy, and granola bars) are more likely to add weight around your abdomen. Cutting back on sugary foods can mean a slimmer waistline as well as a lower risk of diabetes.

Good carbs vs. bad carbs

Carbohydrates are one of your body’s main sources of energy. Health organizations such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend that 45 to 65 percent of your daily calories should come from carbohydrates. However, the majority of these should be from complex, unrefined carbs rather than refined carbs (including starches such as potatoes and corn).

Unlike simple carbs, complex carbohydrates are digested slowly, causing a gradual rise in blood sugar. They’re usually high in nutrients and fiber, which can help prevent serious disease, aid with weight-loss, and improve your energy levels. In general, “good” carbohydrates have a lower glycemic load and can even help guard against type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular problems in the future.

Good carbs include:

Unrefined whole grains – whole wheat or multigrain bread, brown rice, barley, quinoa, bran cereal, oatmeal.

Non-starchy vegetables – spinach, green beans, Brussels sprouts, celery, tomatoes.

Legumes – kidney beans, baked beans, peas, lentils.

Nuts – peanuts, cashews, walnuts.

Fruit – apples, berries, citrus fruit, bananas, pears.

What is the glycemic index and glycemic load?

The glycemic index (GI) measures how rapidly a food spikes your blood sugar, while the glycemic load measures the amount of digestible carbohydrate (total carbohydrate minus fiber) the food contains. While both can be useful tools, having to refer to different tables can be unnecessarily complicated. Unless you’re on a specific diet, most people find it easiest to stick to the broad guidelines of what makes a carb “good” or “bad”.

Switching to good carbs

While there are many health benefits to switching from simple to complex carbs, you don’t have to consign yourself to never again eating French fries or a slice of white bread. After all, when you ban certain foods, it’s natural to crave those foods even more.

Instead, make refined carbs and sugary foods an occasional indulgence rather than a regular part of your diet. As you reduce your intake of these unhealthy foods, you’ll likely find yourself craving them less and less.

Choosing healthier carbs
Instead of… Try…
White rice Brown or wild rice, riced cauliflower
White potatoes (including fries and mashed potatoes) Cauliflower mash, sweet potato
Regular pasta Whole-wheat pasta, spaghetti squash
White bread Whole-wheat or whole-grain bread
Sugary breakfast cereal High-fiber, low-sugar cereal
Instant oatmeal Steel-cut or rolled oats
Cornflakes Low-sugar bran flakes
Corn Leafy greens
Corn or potato chips Nuts, or raw veggies for dipping

Added sugar is just empty calories

Your body gets all the sugar it needs from the sugar that naturally occurs in food—fructose in fruit or lactose in milk, for example. All the sugar added to processed food offers no nutritional value—but just means a lot of empty calories that can sabotage any healthy diet, contribute to weight gain, and increase your risk for serious health problems.

Again, it’s unrealistic to try to eliminate all sugar and empty calories from your diet. The American Heart Association recommends limiting the amount of added sugars you consume to no more than 100 calories per day (about 6 teaspoons or 24 grams of sugar) for women and 150 calories per day (9 teaspoons or 36 grams) for men. If that still sounds like a lot, it’s worth remembering that a 12-ounce soda contains up to 10 teaspoons of added sugar—some shakes and sweetened coffee drinks even more.

The average American currently consumes 19.5 teaspoons (82 grams) of added sugar each day, often without realizing it. By becoming more aware of the sugar in your diet, you can cut down to the recommended levels and make a huge difference to the way you look, think, and feel.

How to cut down on sugar

Slowly reduce the sugar in your diet a little at a time to give your taste buds time to adjust and wean yourself off the craving.

Cook more at home. By preparing more of your own food, you can ensure that you and your family eat fresh, wholesome meals without added sugar.

Give recipes a makeover. Many dessert recipes taste just as good with less sugar.

Avoid sugary drinks—even “diet” versions. Artificial sweetener can still trigger sugar cravings that contribute to weight gain. Instead of soda, try adding a splash of fruit juice to sparkling water. Or blend skim milk with a banana or berries for a delicious, healthy smoothie.

Avoid processed or packaged foods. About 75% of packaged food in the U.S. contains added sugar—including canned soups, frozen dinners, and low-fat meals—that can quickly add up to unhealthy amounts. The situation isn’t much better in many other countries.

Be careful when eating out. Most gravy, dressings, and sauces are packed with sugar, so ask for it to be served on the side.

Eat healthier snacks. Cut down on sweet snacks such as candy, chocolate, and cakes. Instead, satisfy your sweet tooth with naturally sweet food such as fruit, peppers, or natural peanut butter.

Create your own frozen treats. Freeze pure fruit juice in an ice-cube tray with plastic spoons as popsicle handles. Or make frozen fruit kabobs using pineapple chunks, bananas, grapes, and berries.

Check labels of all the packaged food you buy. Choose low-sugar products—but be aware that manufacturers often try to hide sugar on labels.

How to spot hidden sugar in your food

Being smart about sweets is only part of the battle of reducing sugar and simple carbs in your diet. Sugar is also hidden in many packaged foods, fast food meals, and grocery store staples such as bread, cereals, canned goods, pasta sauce, margarine, instant mashed potatoes, frozen dinners, low-fat meals, and ketchup. The first step is to spot hidden sugar on food labels, which can take some sleuthing:

  • Manufacturers provide the total amount of sugar on their labels but do not have to differentiate between added sugar and sugar that is naturally in the food.
  • Added sugars are listed in the ingredients but aren’t always easily recognizable as such. While sugar, honey, or molasses are easy enough to spot, added sugar could also be listed as corn sweetener, high-fructose corn syrup, evaporated cane juice, agave nectar, cane crystals, invert sugar, or any kind of fructose, dextrose, lactose, maltose, or syrup.
  • While you’d expect sugary foods to have sugar listed near the top of their list of ingredients, manufacturers often use different types of added sugars which then appear scattered down the list. But all these little doses of different sweeteners can add up to a lot of extra sugar and empty calories!

Authors: Lawrence Robinson, Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., and Robert Segal, M.A.

Natural Carbohydrate Foods vs. Refined Carbs

What’s the difference between a sandwich made on white bread and one made with 100% whole grain bread?

Or, the difference between French fries and side salad made with spinach, tomatoes, carrots, and kidney beans?

All the foods above are carbohydrates. But the second option in both questions includes good carbohydrate foods (whole grains and vegetables).

Carbohydrates: Good or Bad?

In the past five years the reputation of carbohydrates has swung wildly. Carbs have been touted as the feared food in fad diets. And some carbs have also been promoted as a healthful nutrient associated with lower risk of chronic disease.

So which is it? Are carbs good or bad? The short answer is that they are both.

Fortunately, it’s easy separate the good from the bad.

  • We can reap the health benefits of good carbs by choosing carbohydrates full of fiber. These carbs that get absorbed slowly into our systems, avoiding spikes in blood sugar levels. Examples: whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and beans.
  • We can minimize the health risk of bad carbs by eating fewer refined and processed carbohydrates that strip away beneficial fiber. Examples: white bread and white rice.

Why Carbohydrates Matter

In September 2002, the National Academies Institute of Medicine recommended that people focus on getting more good carbs with fiber into their diet. The following statements are based on information given in the report:

  • To meet the body’s daily nutritional needs while minimizing risk for chronic disease, adults should get 45% to 65% of their calories from carbohydrates, 20% to 35% from fat, and 10% to 35% from protein.
  • There is only one way to get fiber — eat plant foods. Plants such as fruits and vegetables are quality carbohydrates that are loaded with fiber. Studies show an increased risk for heart disease with low-fiber diets. There is also some evidence to suggest that fiber in the diet may also help to prevent colon cancer and promote weight control.

The recommendations:

  • Men aged 50 or younger should get 38 grams of fiber a day.
  • Women aged 50 or younger should get 25 grams of fiber a day.
  • Because we need fewer calories and food as we get older, men over aged 50 should get 30 grams of fiber a day.
  • Women over aged 50 should get 21 grams of fiber a day.

What Are The Good Carbs?

Most of us know what the good carbs are: plant foods that deliver fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals along with grams of carbohydrate, such as whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits. You can’t judge a carb as “good” without considering its fiber content (unless it’s a naturally low-fiber food like skim or low-fat milk).

Why Fiber in Carbohydrates Counts

Fiber is the part in plant foods that humans can’t digest. Even though fiber isn’t absorbed, it does all sorts of great stuff for our bodies.

Fiber slows down the absorption of other nutrients eaten at the same meal, including carbohydrates.

  • This slowing down may help prevent peaks and valleys in your blood sugar levels, reducing your risk for type 2 diabetes.
  • Certain types of fiber found in oats, beans, and some fruits can also help lower blood cholesterol.
  • As an added plus, fiber helps people feel full, adding to satiety.

The problem is that the typical American diet is anything but high in fiber.

“White” grain is the American mode of operation: we eat a muffin or bagel made with white flour in the morning, have our hamburger on a white bun, and then have white rice with our dinner.

In general, the more refined, or “whiter,” the grain-based food, the lower the fiber.

To get some fiber into almost every meal takes a little effort. Here are three tips:

  • Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Just eating five servings a day of fruits and vegetables will get you to about 10 or more grams of fiber, depending on your choices.
  • Include some beans and bean products in your diet. A half-cup of cooked beans will add from 4 to 8 grams of fiber to your day.
  • Switch to whole grains every single possible way (buns, rolls, bread, tortillas, pasta, crackers, etc).

What Are the Bad Carbs?

  • Sugars
  • “Added” sugars
  • Refined “white” grains

There’s no way to sugarcoat the truth: Americans are eating more sugar than ever before. In fact, the average adult takes in about 20 teaspoons of added sugar every day, according to the USDA’s recent nationwide food consumption survey. That’s about 320 calories, which can quickly up to extra pounds. Many adults simply don’t realize how much added sugar is in their diets.

Sugars and refined grains and starches supply quick energy to the body in the form of glucose. That’s a good thing if your body needs quick energy, for example if you’re running a race or competing in sports.

The better carbs for most people are unprocessed or minimally processed whole foods that contain natural sugars, like fructose in fruit or lactose in milk.

Avoid Excess “Added Sugars”

“Added sugars, also known as caloric sweeteners, are sugars and syrups that are added to foods at the table or during processing or preparation (such as high fructose corn syrup in sweetened beverages and baked products),” explains Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD, a spokeswoman with the American Dietetic Association.

Added sugars supply calories but few or no nutrients, Gerbstadt says.

“Americans are very aware of low-fat diets and because of that we’ve been eating more fat-free and low-fat products,” notes Shanthy Bowman, USDA food scientist and author of a recently published study on sugar in the American diet.

“But what many people don’t know is that in many of these products, sugar is being substituted for fat, so we’ve really been trading fat for sugar,” Bowman says.

The USDA recommends that we get no more than 6% to 10% of our total calories from added sugar — that’s about nine teaspoons a day for most of us.

Use the Nutrition Label to Track Your Carbohydrates

The Nutrition Facts section on food labels can help you sort the good carbs from the bad carbs. Here’s what to look for on the Nutrition Facts label.

Total Carbohydrate. For tracking the total amount of carbohydrate in the food, per serving, look for the line that says “Total Carbohydrate.” You’ll find that often the grams of “fiber,” grams of “sugars” and grams of “other carbohydrate” will add up to the grams of “total carbohydrate” on the label.

Dietary Fiber. The line that says Dietary Fiber tells you the total amount of fiber in the food, per serving. Dietary fiber is the amount of carbohydrate that is indigestible and will likely pass through the intestinal tract without being absorbed.

Sugars. “Sugars” tells you the total amount of carbohydrate from sugar in the food, from all sources — natural sources like lactose and fructose as well as added sugars like high-fructose corn syrup. It’s important to distinguish between natural sugars and added sugars. For example, the average 1% low-fat milk label will list 15 grams of “sugar” per cup. Those grams come from the lactose (milk sugars) not from added sweeteners.

To get an idea of how many grams of sugar on the label come from added sugars – such as high fructose corn syrup or white or brown sugar — check the list of ingredients on the label. See if any of those sweeteners are in the top three or four ingredients. Ingredients are listed in order of quantity, so the bulk of most food is made up of the first few ingredients.

Other Carbohydrate. The category “other carbohydrate” represents the digestible carbohydrate that is not considered a sugar (natural or otherwise).

Sugar Alcohols. Some product labels also break out “sugar alcohols” under “Total Carbohydrate.” In some people, sugar alcohol carbohydrates can cause intestinal problems such as gas, cramping, or diarrhea. If you look on the ingredient label, the sugar alcohols are listed as lactitol, mannitol, maltitol, sorbitol, xylitol, and others. Many “sugar free” or “reduced calorie” foods contain some sugar alcohols even when another alternative sweetener like Splenda is in the product.

Good Carbs, Bad Carbs: What You Need to Know

“The Healthy Geezer” answers questions about health and aging in his weekly column.

Question:  What exactly is the difference between good carbs and bad carbs?

Answer: Here’s the short answer: Good carbs — or carbohydrates — are good for you. Bad carbs aren’t.

Carbohydrates that come from white bread, white rice, pastry, sugary sodas and other highly processed foods can make you fat. If you eat a lot of these so-called bad carbs, they will increase your risk for disease.

On the other hand, the good carbs, including whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables, keep you healthy by providing you with vitamins, minerals, fiber and many other nutrients. That’s why a healthy diet should include good carbs.

Carbohydrates are the most important source of energy for your body. Your digestive system converts carbohydrates into blood sugar (glucose). Your body uses the glucose and stores any extra sugar for when you need it.

Carbohydrates were once grouped into two main categories — simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates included sugars such as fruit sugar (fructose), corn or grape sugar (dextrose or glucose) and table sugar (sucrose). Complex carbohydrates included everything made of three or more linked sugars. Complex carbohydrates were thought to be the healthiest to eat. Now there are questions about that assumption.

A new system, called the glycemic index, classifies carbohydrates according to how quickly and how high they boost blood sugar. Foods with a high glycemic index, like white bread, cause rapid spikes in blood sugar. Foods with a low glycemic index, like whole oats, are digested more slowly, causing a lower and gentler change in blood sugar.

Diets rich in foods that have a high glycemic index have been linked to an increased risk for diabetes, heart disease, obesity, age-related macular degeneration, infertility and colorectal cancer. Foods with a low glycemic index help control diabetes and improve weight loss.

However, other studies have found that the glycemic index has little effect on health or weight. As a result, more research on the glycemic index is needed.

You can’t base a diet on the glycemic index alone. Instead, use it as a general guide. In the meantime, eat foods that have a low glycemic index: whole grains, beans, fruit and vegetables.

The University of Sydney in Australia maintains an updated searchable database at www.glycemicindex.com that now has almost 1,600 entries.

Here are five quick tips about carb consumption from the Harvard School of Public Health:

1. Start the day with whole grains. Try a hot cereal, like old-fashioned oats, or a cold cereal that has a whole grain topping the ingredients list.

2. Use whole grain breads for lunch or snacks.

3. Bag the potatoes. Instead, have brown rice, bulgur, wheat berries, whole wheat pasta or another whole grain with your dinner.

4. Choose whole fruit instead of juice. An orange has twice as much fiber and half as much sugar as a 12-ounce glass of orange juice.

5. Bring on the beans. Beans are an excellent source of slowly digested carbohydrates as well as a great source of protein.

If you would like to read more columns, you can order a copy of “How to be a Healthy Geezer” at http://www.healthygeezer.com/.

All Rights Reserved © 2013 by Fred Cicetti.

90,000 Do I need to give up sugar and carbohydrates?

  • Daria Ozernaya
  • for the BBC News Ukraine

Photo author, Getty Images

Today there is a lot of talk about the dangers of sugar, and carbohydrate-free diets are becoming more and more popular. So should you give up sugar and carbohydrates? And why is it so difficult to maintain weight after a strict diet?

Sugar – White Death

The debate about the dangers of sugar and fat began in the 1970s.American biochemist Ansel Keys defended the idea that animal fats were to blame for the rise in diabetes, atherosclerosis and obesity, while British nutritionist John Yudkin saw the root of all evil in sugar consumption. He wrote the book “Pure. White. Lethal” about the dangers of sugar.

Keyes relied on extensive research on cholesterol and morbidity, and finally, fats lost, and sugars remained in the game. The official dietary guidelines declared animal fats unhealthy and sugar consumption, especially in drinks, increased.

In 2004, when it became clear that diabetes, obesity and atherosclerosis were not diminishing in the world, the debate about the dangers of sugar resumed.

And in 2009, a viral video of the American pediatrician Dr. Robert Lustig “Sugar: the bitter truth”. Researchers, nutritionists and the media have become increasingly talking about sugar addiction, the dangers of sugars and the benefits of carbohydrate-free diets, and animal fats have returned to official dietary guidelines.

Is sugar harmful?

Carbohydrates are a necessary and inevitable part of our diet.They should provide 25 to 65% of all the calories we consume.

There are simple carbohydrates – these are sugars, glucose, sucrose, lactose, fructose, and complex – these are starch. It is not carbohydrates in general that harm, but sugars, and then under certain circumstances – when we move a little, and at the same time consume sweets, and not nutritious nutritious food.

An increase in the risk of obesity, diabetes mellitus, heart and vascular diseases, the formation of pro-inflammatory backgrounds in the body and skin aging are associated with excessive consumption of sugars and an excessively high-calorie diet.

Why are they talking about the dangers of sugars?

Sugary foods cause large fluctuations in blood sugar. The blood glucose level must be constant. When there is a lot of it, the hormone insulin is released, and then glucose leaves the bloodstream and is deposited in the liver, muscles and adipose tissue in the form of reserves – glycogen and fat.

Intensive muscle work before or after eating sweets makes the muscles absorb all the sugar, and much less of it gets into the adipose tissue. The rapid decrease in glucose levels under the influence of insulin, we feel like hunger and thirst – there is a desire to eat or drink something sweet again.

Photo Credit, Getty Images

The delight of sweets is a molecular trap.

Sugary and fatty foods trigger the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter for happiness and the reward of certain behaviors.

Scientists do not believe that addiction to sweets is of the same nature as drug addiction. Therefore, consuming sweets under stress and depression sometimes becomes a habit. At the same time, the stress hormone cortisol directs the deposition of sweets consumed to improve mood in our body – this is how the so-called visceral fat is formed.

How much sugar n do you need is there?

Dietary recommendations from different countries and medical associations agree on the following: added sugars in our daily diet should be no more than 50 g, and better – no more than 32.

For the calculation, we took the consumption of 2000 kilocalories per day. Another guideline was simply the calorie content of food intake – the sugars that we or the manufacturers added to the dishes should make up no more than 10% of all calories.The added sugars are free from milk lactose, fructose and sucrose from fruits and vegetables.

These recommendations are based on three sets of evidence. Firstly, today there is a proven link between the amount of consumed sugars and dental caries.

Secondly, you can eat sweets, while not exceeding the required calorie intake and not gaining weight. But at the same time, there will not be enough of those nutrients that are in unsweetened food – proteins, minerals, vitamins, and the like.

So when we eat fewer added sugars and eat wholesome food instead, we can normalize our diet and consume what is healthy.Therefore, a banana is better than a cake, although the calorie content may be the same.

Finally, added sugars, particularly fructose syrup, are derived from starch and added to drinks and sweets, increasing the risk of type 2 diabetes and weight gain.

Should you give up carbohydrates altogether?

Photo Credit, Getty Images

No dietary recommendation advises to avoid carbohydrates altogether, and the restrictions only apply to added sugars.Fruits that are a source of simple sugars, starchy vegetables, legumes, whole grains are recommended as the basis of the diet. They should provide the majority of calories.

Long-term carbohydrate-free diets are not generally recognized as being healthy or beneficial for a wide range of people. People involved in endurance sports like marathon running, triathlon, cycling, on the contrary, are officially advised to consume complex as well as simple carbohydrates.

What happens when we don’t eat any carbs? Hormones trigger the formation of ketones from fats and glucose from amino acids.These processes are called ketogenesis and gluconeogenesis, respectively.

The keto diet, or carbohydrate-free diet, is still becoming more and more popular. It is an effective way to lose weight, and eliminates the very temptation to eat something sweet or exceed the amount of carbohydrates.

Research has shown the benefits of the keto diet for improving neuroplasticity and preventing dementia, and for slowing vascular aging.

Ketones can cause euphoria in the brain. The absence of sweet and fatty foods such as cakes in the diet has a positive effect on the intestinal microflora, and so, in turn, on our culinary tastes, mood and weight.However, long-term carbohydrate avoidance is not healthy.

Photo Credit, Getty Images

A study of the health effects of avoiding carbohydrates in 50 thousand people in seven countries showed that people under 55 years of age with a normal body mass index who gave up carbohydrates had worse health indicators than those who consumed food rich in carbohydrates.

Overall mortality increased by 32%, cancer mortality increased by 35%, and mortality from coronary heart disease and stroke increased by 50%.

Other studies show that low blood glucose suppresses the immune system and increases the risk and severity of infectious diseases.

In addition, carbohydrate-free diets, like all strict dietary restrictions, disrupt the hormonal mechanisms of satiety and appetite. The hormones leptin and ghrelin are responsible for these processes, respectively. As a result, quitting the diet means an unnecessarily strong appetite, overeating, and regaining lost weight.

How much sugar can you eat per day? Are all sugar substitutes useful? What is the difference between fructose and glucose? The answer is

White sugar has been a headache for humanity for many years.They are looking for alternatives to him, they threaten to completely exclude him from the diet and write off many diseases at his expense. After reports that the coronavirus is especially dangerous for people with diabetes, it seems that they decided to completely ostracize sugar – requests for plant and synthetic sweeteners are growing on the Web. We decided to better understand this issue and understand how dangerous sugar is, why the body needs it and whether sugar substitutes are useful.

What is sugar?

Everyone’s familiar white sugar is a simple (fast) carbohydrate.Fast carbohydrates are arguably the most demonized substances on the planet. The body needs them for energy, but at the same time, their abuse provokes the appearance of excess weight and the development of diseases.

Photo: Elena Koycheva / Unsplash

Carbohydrates are composed of saccharides and, depending on their structure, are divided into simple and complex (slow). The chemical composition of simple carbohydrates is most often limited to one saccharide – such carbohydrates are called monosaccharides.The human gut is capable of absorbing monosaccharides, so fast carbohydrates don’t take time to break down. They are instantly absorbed by the body, increase blood glucose levels and do not give a feeling of fullness.

Complex carbohydrates, in turn, are composed of 3 or more saccharide units. The body needs time to assimilate them – glucose enters the bloodstream gradually, and we feel full for longer.

Simple carbohydrates, in addition to white sugar, include fruits, honey, and milk.Complex – carbohydrates from green vegetables, legumes and whole grains.

What is sugar made of?

Sugar as the simplest carbohydrate consists of sucrose – a disaccharide, which in turn consists of monosaccharides: glucose and fructose. Once in the body, sucrose is broken down into glucose and fructose. Glucose is converted into energy and stored in the body as glycogen, a polysaccharide that is deposited as a storage carbohydrate in the cytoplasm of liver and muscle cells.Fructose accumulates in the liver, where it is partially metabolized into lactic acid, glucose and glycogen.

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How does sugar affect the body?

First you need to understand that in many diseases, the cause of which is attributed to sugar, he is not the only one to blame – it is, in general, the result of poor nutrition.The effect of sugar on the body can be explained very simply: glucose obtained as a result of the breakdown of sucrose is needed for energy. On the other hand, all the necessary substances are contained in other foods – complex carbohydrates also break down into glucose, only they do it several times slower. Consequently, we can get energy not only from sugar, but it is around it that controversy constantly flares up.

Sugar has no other useful properties, except for providing a person with energy.In its pure form, its energy value (calorie content) is very high – 409 kilocalories per 100 grams of product. Consequently, the constant uncontrolled consumption of sugar leads to the formation of fatty deposits and an increase in body weight. No less dangerous is the fact that sugar has a high glycemic index (GI) – about 77 units. The GI of foods shows their effect on blood glucose levels. When levels rise, the body produces more insulin (a hormone from the pancreas), which is needed to lower the amount of glucose in the blood.Due to the frequent consumption of sugar and the secretion of insulin, diabetes mellitus develops – one of the most common modern diseases.

Fructose is no less dangerous. Her

excess in the liver

leads to the accumulation of fat, which negatively affects the functioning of the organ and metabolism in general. In addition, fructose, unlike glucose, does not stimulate insulin production. When fructose is consumed in large quantities, the body can develop insulin resistance – a condition in which cells cannot use insulin properly, which significantly increases blood sugar (glucose) levels.

According to the WHO, the daily sugar intake should ideally not exceed 50 grams or, in an amicable way, be no more than 10% of the calories consumed per day.

Many ignore these recommendations, which leads to the development of diseases and the so-called

sugar addiction

… Sugar is indeed addictive – its use stimulates the production of dopamine (“the hormone of happiness”). Alcohol and other drugs work in a similar way.Due to the frequent consumption of sweets, the body stops producing dopamine on its own and requires constant stimulation in the form of new portions of sugar.

If a person decides to abruptly abandon sweets, then a kind of withdrawal awaits him – dopamine starvation. The result is often breakdowns – in order to increase dopamine levels, a person eats more and more sugary foods, which again negatively affects health.

Situation: refusing sugar

In an effort to stay healthy, people often ditch white sugar and start looking for healthy alternatives.In pursuit of a healthy lifestyle, many introduce more fruits and juices (packaged and freshly squeezed) into the diet. With fruits, everything is not easy: in fact, they are saturated with sugar, but its amount is compensated by the presence of fiber – it slows down the absorption of glucose by the body and, therefore, its entry into the blood. Freshly squeezed juices, on the other hand, do not contain fiber – it remains in the pulp of the fruit. Therefore, they should not be abused, as well as packaged. The problem with packaged juices is that in production, a portion of sugar and various syrups are often added to the composition to improve the taste.

Regarding juices with pulp, it should be said that its presence in a product does not mean the presence of fiber. In the production of such juices, fiber is removed almost completely, therefore, when they are absorbed, nothing interferes with the process of rapid absorption of glucose.

Following the rejection of sugar comes the turn of sugar substitutes – substances with a sweet taste, which, as the name implies, replace sugar in the diet. At the moment

there is no research,

which would prove their benefits for humans, but various sugar analogues are in high demand.

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Plant-based sugar substitutes


Stevia / Photo: Wikimedia

Stevia is a genus of perennial plants native to South and Central America. Native Indians have used it as a sweetener for centuries – they called stevia “sweet herb”.As shown in a 1931 study, the plant contains glycosides, whose sweetness largely exceeds the sweet taste of sucrose. With all this, stevia does not affect blood glucose levels and could become an ideal sugar substitute, but there are much more questions around it than answers. Some research


that stevia is a mutagen and carcinogen. Them quickly


due to the peculiarities of the conditions in which they were carried out, but the sediment remained.FDA so far

attributes stevia

to products with uncertain safety and toxicity, although it is known to be used to treat hypertension and diabetes.


Lucuma / Photo: Wikimedia

Another plant native to South America whose fruit powder has been used for centuries to sweeten food. Despite the popularity of lucuma powder, there is little data on its nutritional value (and benefits in general) – it is known that the product contains sucrose, glucose, fructose, citric and succinic acids.But it is unclear whether Turkish delight can provide the body with the amount of sugar it needs to function.

Coconut sugar

Coconut sugar / Photo: Wikimedia

Over the past few years, the demand for coconut sugar as an alternative to white has increased markedly, which has led to the need to conduct research on its dangers and benefits. According to the data, sugar from coconut juice retains nutrients – it not only provides the body with energy, but also supplies it with minerals, fatty acids and antioxidants.A significant plus is the content of fiber, which, as we already understood, inhibits the absorption of glucose into the blood. All the benefits are outweighed by a tangible minus – the calorie content of coconut sugar is equal to the calorie content of white sugar. In addition, the amount of sucrose in the composition of these products is practically the same, therefore, the content of glucose and fructose in them is equal. Coconut sugar is less sweet than regular white sugar, so you will have to consume more of it to maintain its flavor, and the body will receive more calories and fructose.


Sorbit / Photo: Wikimedia

Sorbitol is a sweet-tasting polyhydric alcohol found in seaweed, rowan and plum fruits. It is used as a sweetener, but, according to recent studies, large doses of sorbitol (10 grams or more) can provoke gastrointestinal failure.


Another polyhydric alcohol, erythritol, was first discovered in molasses – molasses.

Molasses / Photo: Wikimedia

Erythritol seems to be the most beneficial sugar substitute – it has almost zero calories and does not affect blood glucose and insulin levels in any way. Even the FDA has no complaints about the product – according to the commission, it is a safe analogue of sugar. It also does not affect bowel function. Once in the body, erythritol is metabolized in the small intestine and excreted through the kidneys, bypassing the large intestine and microflora.


Carob / © Getty Images

Carob is a carob alternative to sugar and cocoa. By the way, in ancient times, these fruits were used as a measure of weight, because they have a constant mass. As an analogue of sugar and cocoa, carob has been used for a very long time, but special


he received in the middle of the last century in the wake of the popularization of a healthy lifestyle.Carob is quite high in calories (222 kilocalories per 100 grams), but it has a low glycemic index and does not increase glucose levels.

Artificial sugar substitutes

© Getty Images


Sucralose is created by treating sucrose with chlorine. The sweetness of this chemical compound was first discovered in 1976 – Professor Leslie’s assistant Hugh Shashikant Phadnis was tasked with testing the chlorinated sugar compound.He (possibly due to poor knowledge of English) tasted it and found that sucralose was very sweet. In the same year, the substance was first marketed as an artificial sweetener by Tate & Lyle. Sucralose is WHO and FDA approved and is low in calories and glycemic index. However, opponents of sucralose focus on the chlorine content in it, which can harm the body.

Sodium cyclamate

The sweetness of sodium cyclamate was also discovered by accident.Scientist Michael Sveda was working on a cure for a fever in 1937 and accidentally put a cigarette on his desk, where he synthesized sodium cyclamate. When he lit a cigarette, he found that the solution soaked in the cigarette tasted sweet. Initially, cyclamate was used to mask the bitterness of drugs, but later it was released on the market as a complete product to replace sugar in the diet. It is one of the most controversial sweeteners. Experiments have shown that the use of cyclamate provokes the development of cancer in animals.Although this has not been proven in humans, cyclamate is still bypassed by many.

Also, in the intestines of some people, bacteria are present, which, when the substance is processed, produce conditionally teratogenic metabolites. They can provoke the development of various anomalies in embryos, because sodium cyclamate is prohibited for pregnant women.


Another overnight sweetener is aspartame.According to this legend, in 1965, scientist James Schlatter was working on obtaining gastrin, a drug for the treatment of stomach ulcers. As an intermediate product, Schlatter synthesized aspartame and noticed its sweet taste when for some reason he decided to lick his finger, which got the substance. Aspartame has a low glycemic index and zero calories and is FDA confirmed and approved for safety. It is considered one of the most popular and safest sugar substitutes.

What do the experts say?

Olga Chekulaeva, Candidate of Medical Sciences, nutritionist of the European Medical Center

The addition of sugar increases the average calorie content of the food, but does not change its biological value (i.e.i.e. the content of essential elements: essential amino acids and fatty acids, vitamins and microelements). This leads either to an excess of calories with a full diet, or to a poor diet with a normal calorie content.

Health organizations strongly advise limiting sugar, both in pure form and in confectionery, sugary drinks, sweetened foods (such as yoghurts, curds), and natural sugar in honey, syrups and fruit juices.However, these recommendations do not apply to natural sugars in whole fruits.

The World Health Organization has developed two levels to maximize sugar intake:

“Soft” norm

– no more than 10% of the total daily energy requirement.

“Hard” norm

– no more than 5% of the total daily energy requirement.

For the prevention of cardiovascular disease, the American Heart Association recommends observing norms close to the “hard” WHO recommendations:

For women

– up to 24 grams per day (6 teaspoons).

For men

– up to 36 grams per day (9 teaspoons).

If you plan to reduce the sugar content in the diet, then adhere to the following recommendations:

Avoid sweetened drinks, hot or cold.

Give up confectionery.

Use whole fruit instead of sugar to enhance the flavor of your food.

Whole fruit is preferred over fruit juices.
Use complete food to satisfy hunger, not sugar.

How to find hidden sugar in food

We all know that an excess of sugar in the diet is a direct road to many dangerous diagnoses, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular and oncological diseases. But the difficulty is that even those who try to keep track of their sugar consumption cannot always get objective information. Because food manufacturers are willing to go to many tricks to hide the real composition.This is how it most often happens.

There is sugar, but it is called differently

On the label, we find several dozen names that essentially denote sugar. And if glucose or fructose is quite easy to identify, sometimes the formulations are so vague that only an expert can figure out the terms. For example, dextrose is a sugar derived from corn, levulose is the second name for fructose (fruit sugar), and molasses (molasses) is a by-product of sugar production.

– In accordance with MR 2.3.0122-18.2.3 (guidelines. – Ed. Note), added (free) sugars are mono- and disaccharides introduced into food products during production. The added ones include, among other things, natural sugars, presented in honey, syrups, fruit juices, etc., – says Irina Svyatoslavova, deputy director for scientific work of VNIIKP – branch of the Federal Scientific Center for Food Systems named afterVM Gorbatov “RAS, Ph.D.

Sugar seems to be healthier

Certain sweeteners have traditionally been perceived to be “healthier” to consumers than regular white sugar. Cane sugar, agave syrup, coconut nectar, or date syrup are most commonly used to make healthy foods such as cereals, protein bars, and whole grain flakes.

Some of these sugars do differ in taste or nutrient content, but globally this does not change the essence.Whatever the name of the ingredient – syrup or nectar, processed or unprocessed, brown or white – is still sugar.

– The added sugar is usually a mixture of simple sugars such as glucose, fructose or sucrose. Other types, such as galactose, lactose and maltose, are less common – Anna Krivosheeva, endocrinologist, nutritionist, Medsi CDC at Belorusskaya.

Glucose and fructose are the most common sugars and are often found together to have very different effects on the body.Glucose can be metabolized by almost every cell in the body, while fructose is almost completely metabolized in the liver. Studies have repeatedly demonstrated the harmful effects of high fructose consumption. These include insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, fatty liver disease, and type 2 diabetes. While consuming any additional sugar should be avoided, it is especially important to minimize your intake of high fructose added sugars.

Better sweeteners are those that have a low glycemic index, not too high in fructose, and additional nutrients and nutrients that are not found in regular sugar.These include date syrup, natural maple syrup, honey, coconut sugar, molasses. However, these sugars are far from the best source of beneficial nutrients. To get any significant amount of calcium or iron, you have to eat an absurd portion of sugar.

There is no need to avoid naturally occurring sugars – those found naturally in whole foods. Fruits, vegetables, and dairy products naturally contain a certain amount of sugar, but they also contain fiber, nutrients, and various beneficial nutrients.

The most effective way to reduce your sugar intake is to eat mostly whole and unprocessed foods. However, if you are buying ready-made foods, look at the label and the many different names for sugar.

Added sugars to avoid:

  • Artificial and low calorie sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose, saccharin.

  • Chemically produced high fructose corn syrup.

  • Agave. Although agave gained fame for its low glycemic index, it was ultimately proven to have a very high fructose content.

  • Sugar alcohols such as xylitol, erythritol, and sorbitol are generally considered safe and are most commonly found in chewing gum and toothpastes as they have been found to protect against tooth decay. They also have a low glycemic index.The problem is that the body cannot digest most of the sugar alcohols, so they end up in the colon where they are metabolized by gut bacteria. Eating large amounts of sugar alcohols in a short period of time can lead to gas, bloating, and diarrhea.

Calculating the exact amount of sugar is not an easy task

Even if you managed to recognize the hidden names of sugar, it can be very difficult to calculate the exact amount of sweeteners in certain products.Yes, manufacturers most often indicate the amount of sugar on the package. However, as a rule, these are added (free) sugars. And no one mentions that dairy products or fruits initially contain a certain amount of sugar. Therefore, the total amount of sugar can be significantly higher than what is indicated on the label.

Important! How to read the label

  • The higher an ingredient is on the list, the more it is.But please note: there may be several sources of sugar in a product at once. For example, on this label there are five of them at once: invert sugar syrup, sugar, glucose syrup, honey and molasses.

  • If there are several sources of sugar at once, a detailed nutritional table on the label will help. In particular, the section “Carbohydrates”, which should indicate the amount of sugars. This will help you calculate the total amount of sugar in the food.Unfortunately, such tables are not present on all products; their placement is not mandatory at the moment.

  • Pay close attention to the information on the amount of sugar in relation to the daily value. For example, in a cereal bar, a manufacturer can calculate this ratio for added sugars only and indicate 11% of the daily value. But if you take into account all the sugar (in cereals, fruits, berries), then the bar can pull 80-90% of the daily value.

Sugar Free may not mean what you think

The packaging may say “Sugar Free”. What does it mean? That there are no added sugars in it, but natural sugar (from fruit juice, puree or paste) may well be in the composition. A scandalous case can be cited as an example. In the Which?
discovered a cocoa and hazelnut bar from a well-known breakfast cereal company that said No Added Sugar.Nevertheless, the composition included date paste and cereals, which contain at least 13 g of sugar per 100 g. After that, the company was forced to issue an official statement, which said that date paste was not used to give the product a sweet taste. and so that the grains stick together and the bars do not fall apart. Thus, according to the manufacturer’s version, the bar may well have the inscription “No added sugar” on the label.

Various sugars are often used in sweets and confectionery products, each of which plays its own role in the manufacturing technology.

– First of all, we must remember that confectionery products are products that complete a meal, but in no way can be the main course. Desserts are more intended for pleasure, and it is not entirely correct to consider them as a source of nutrients. At the same time, sugars play an important technological role in confectionery products. So, sucrose is a component that primarily provides the desired structure, texture and consistency. Treacle and invert syrup protect confectionery products from drying out, staleness and sugaring.And only then these are the components that give sweetness, – says Irina Svyatoslavova.

It should be borne in mind that confectionery products are multicomponent products. Therefore, added (free) sugars can come from various components: molasses, invert syrup, fructose, glucose, honey, jams, condensed milk, dried fruit powders.

In accordance with TR CU 022/2011 “Food products in terms of their labeling”, the labeling of packaged products must contain indicators of nutritional value (energy value (calorie content), the amount of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, the amount of vitamins and minerals).The manufacturer is not required to indicate the amount of added sugar or total sugar.

Carbohydrates: chemical properties, production methods and structure

Carbohydrates (sugars) are organic compounds with a similar structure, the composition of most of which is reflected by the formula C x (H 2 O) y , where x, y ≥ 3.

The exception is deoxy ribose, which has the formula C 5 H 10 O 4 (one oxygen atom less than ribose).

By the number of structural links

  • Monosaccharides – contain one structural unit.
  • Oligosaccharides – contain from 2 to 10 structural units (disaccharides, trisaccharides, etc.).
  • Polysaccharides – contain n structural units.

Some essential carbohydrates:

Monosaccharides Disaccharides Polysaccharides
Glucose C 6 N 12 O 6

Fructose C 6 N 12 O 6

Ribose S 5 N 10 O 5

Deoxyribose C 5 N 10 O 4

Sucrose C 12 N 22 O 11

Lactose C 12 N 22 O 11

Maltose C 12 N 22 O 11

Cellobiose C 12 N 22 O 11

Cellulose (C 6 N 10 O 5 ) n

Starch (C 6 N 10 O 5 ) n

By the number of carbon atoms in a molecule

  • Pentoses – contain 5 carbon atoms.
  • Hexoses – contain 6 carbon atoms.
  • Etc.

By the size of the ring in the cyclic form of the molecule

  • Pyranoses – form a six-membered ring.
  • Furanose – contains a five-membered ring.

1. Combustion

All carbohydrates burn to carbon dioxide and water.

For example, when glucose burns, water and carbon dioxide are formed

C 6 H 12 O 6 + 6O 2 → 6CO 2 + 6H 2 O

2.Interaction with concentrated sulfuric acid

Concentrated sulfuric acid removes water from carbohydrates, thus forming carbon C (“charring”) and water.

For example, when concentrated sulfuric acid acts on glucose, carbon and water are formed

C 6 H 12 O 6 → 6C + 6H 2 O

Monosaccharides are heterofunctional compounds, their molecules include one carbonyl group (aldehyde or ketone group) and several hydroxyl ones.

Monosaccharides are structural units of oligosaccharides and polysaccharides.

The most important monosaccharides

Name and Formula Glucose

C 6 H 12 O 6


C 6 H 12 O 6


C 5 H 10 O 5

Structural formula
  • hexose
  • aldose
  • in cyclic form – pyranose
  • hexose
  • ketosis
  • in cyclic form – furanose
  • pentose
  • aldose
  • in cyclic form – furanose

Glucose is the aldehyde alcohol (aldose).

It contains six carbon atoms, one aldehyde and five hydroxyl groups.

Glucose exists in solutions not only in the form of linear, but also cyclic forms (alpha and beta) , which are pyranose (contain six units):

α-glucose β-glucose

Chemical properties of glucose

Aqueous solution of glucose

In an aqueous solution of glucose, there is a dynamic equilibrium between two cyclic forms – α and β and a linear form:

Qualitative reaction for polyhydric alcohols: reaction with freshly precipitated copper (II) hydroxide

When freshly precipitated copper (II) hydroxide interacts with glucose (and other monosaccharides, the hydroxide dissolves to form a blue complex .

Reactions to the carbonyl group – CH = O

Glucose exhibits properties characteristic of aldehydes.

  • Silver mirror reaction
  • Reaction with copper (II) hydroxide when heated. When glucose interacts with copper (II) hydroxide, a red-brick precipitate of copper (I) oxide precipitates:
  • Oxidation with bromine water. When glucose is oxidized with bromine water, gluconic acid is formed:

  • Glucose can also be oxidized with chlorine, berthollet’s salt, nitric acid.
Concentrated nitric acid oxidizes not only the aldehyde group, but also the hydroxyl group at the other end of the carbon chain.
  • Catalytic hydrogenation. When glucose interacts with hydrogen, the carbonyl group is reduced to an alcoholic hydroxyl, a six-alcohol alcohol is formed – sorbitol:
  • Fermentation of glucose. Fermentation is a biochemical process based on redox transformations of organic compounds under anaerobic conditions.

Alcoholic fermentation. Alcoholic fermentation of glucose produces alcohol and carbon dioxide:

C 6 H 12 O 6 → 2C 2 H 5 OH + 2CO 2

Lactic acid fermentation. Lactic acid is formed during lactic acid fermentation of glucose:

Butyric acid fermentation. Butyric acid is formed during butyric acid fermentation of glucose (suddenly):

  • Formation of glucose esters (characteristic of the cyclic form of glucose).

Glucose is able to form ethers and esters.

Substitution of hemiacetal (glycosidic) hydroxyl occurs most easily.

For example, α-D-glucose interacts with methanol.

This forms glucose monomethyl ether (α-O-methyl-D-glucoside):

The glucose ethers are called glycosides.

Under more severe conditions (for example, with CH 3 -I ), alkylation is also possible at other remaining hydroxyl groups .

Monosaccharides are capable of forming esters with both mineral and carboxylic acids.

For example , β-D-glucose reacts with acetic anhydride in a 1: 5 ratio to form glucose pentaacetate (β-pentaacetyl-D-glucose):

Getting glucose

Hydrolysis of starch

In the presence of acids, starch is hydrolyzed:

(C 6 H 10 O 5 ) n + nH 2 O → nC 6 H 12 O 6

Synthesis from formaldehyde

The reaction was first studied by A.M. Butlerov. The synthesis takes place in the presence of calcium hydroxide:

6CH 2 = O n → C 6 H 12 O 6


In plants, carbohydrates are formed as a result of the reaction of photosynthesis from CO 2 and H 2 O:

6CO 2 + 6H 2 O → C 6 H 12 O 6 + 6O 2

Fructose is a structural isomer of glucose.This is a ketone alcohol (ketosis): it can also exist in cyclic forms (furanose).

It contains six carbon atoms, one ketone group and five hydroxyl groups.

Fructose α-D-fructose β-D-fructose

Fructose is a crystalline substance, readily soluble in water, sweeter than glucose.

Found in free form in honey and fruits.

The chemical properties of fructose are associated with the presence of a ketone and five hydroxyl groups.

Hydrogenation of fructose also produces sorbitol .

Disaccharides are carbohydrates whose molecules consist of two monosaccharide residues connected to each other by the interaction of hydroxyl groups (two hemiacetal or one hemiacetal and one alcohol).

Sucrose (beet or cane sugar) C 12 N 22 O 11

The sucrose molecule consists of of α-glucose and β-fructose residues, connected to each other:

In the sucrose molecule, the glycosidic carbon atom of glucose is bound due to the formation of an oxygen bridge with fructose, therefore sucrose does not form an open (aldehyde) form.

Therefore, sucrose does not enter into the reaction of the aldehyde group – with an ammonia solution of silver oxide with copper hydroxide when heated.

Such disaccharides are called non-reducing, i.e. not capable of oxidizing.

Sucrose is hydrolyzed by acidified water. This produces glucose and fructose:

C 12 H 22 O 11 + H 2 O → C 6 H 12 O 6 + C 6 H 12 O 6

glucose fructose

Maltose C 12 N 22 O 11

This is a disaccharide consisting of of two α-glucose residues , it is an intermediate in the hydrolysis of starch.

Maltose is reducing disaccharide (one of the cyclic units can open into an aldehyde group) and enters into reactions characteristic of aldehydes.

Hydrolysis of maltose produces glucose.

C 12 H 22 O 11 + H 2 O → 2C 6 H 12 O 6

Polysaccharides are natural high molecular weight carbohydrates whose macromolecules consist of monosaccharide residues.

The main representatives of – starch and cellulose – are built from the remains of one monosaccharide – glucose.

Starch and cellulose have the same molecular formula: (C 6 H 10 O 5 ) n , but completely different properties.

This is due to the peculiarities of their spatial structure.

Starch consists of α-glucose residues, and cellulose consists of β-glucose, which are spatial isomers and differ only in the position of one hydroxyl group:


Starch is a polysaccharide built from residues of cyclic α-glucose.

It consists of:

  • amylose (inner part of starch grain) – 10-20%
  • amylopectin (starch shell) – 80-90%

Chain of amylose includes 200 – 1000 α-glucose residues (average molecular weight 160,000) and has an unbranched structure.

Amylopectin has a branched structure and a much higher molecular weight than amylose.

Properties of starch

  • Hydrolysis of starch : when boiling in an acidic medium, starch is successively hydrolyzed:

Record of complete hydrolysis of starch without intermediate steps:

  • Starch does not give a “silver mirror” reaction and does not reduce copper (II) hydroxide.
  • Qualitative reaction to starch: blue staining with iodine solution.


Cellulose (fiber) – the most common plant polysaccharide. Cellulose chains are built from β-glucose residues and have a linear structure.

Cellulose properties

  • Formation of esters with nitric and acetic acids.

Cellulose nitration .

Since the cellulose unit contains 3 hydroxyl groups, nitration of cellulose with an excess of nitric acid may result in the formation of cellulose trinitrate, pyroxylin explosive:

Cellulose acylation .

Under the action of acetic anhydride (simplified acetic acid) on cellulose, an esterification reaction occurs, and OH groups 1, 2 and 3 can participate in the reaction.

It turns out cellulose acetate – acetate fiber.

  • Cellulose hydrolysis.

Cellulose, like starch, can be hydrolyzed in an acidic medium, resulting in glucose as well . But the process is much more difficult.

90,000 advanced approach from a nutritionist ›Articles and news› DoctorPiter.ru

Simple carbohydrates are made up of easily digestible sugars. Some are found naturally, such as in fruits and milk, while processed sugar is commonly added to foods such as candy, baked goods, and sodas.

“Simple carbohydrates are rapidly absorbed in the intestines and can cause a spike in blood sugar,” says Alicia Galvin, a dietitian at Sovereign Laboratories in Dallas.On food labels, added sugar can have several different names: brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, fructose, glucose, maltose, malt syrup, sucrose, honey, agave nectar, molasses, and fruit juice concentrates. If you see any of these words in the first four lines of a product label, put the product back on the shelf. “

Complex carbohydrates are found in whole grains, legumes and vegetables and have longer sugar chains.This allows them to digest more slowly and not to raise their glucose levels so dramatically, but to release it at a more constant rate and give you better energy.

Whole grains also contain B vitamins. Therefore, it is worth replacing wheat flour with whole grain, adding bulgur, brown rice and oatmeal, beans, quinoa and barley to the diet.

The way to tell the difference between good and bad carbohydrates is to look at their glycemic index (GI)
It measures how quickly your blood sugar rises after you eat a certain food – on a scale of 0 to 100.Foods with a high GI (above 70) are easy to digest and cause a rapid rise in blood sugar levels. Foods with a low GI (below 55) are digested more slowly and blood sugar levels remain more even.

“It is important to know that the GI of a particular person is influenced by weight, age, intestinal microflora, carbohydrate metabolism – (whether there is insulin resistance or not,” says nutritionist Natalya Sycheva. – People with insulin resistance have increased brain reactivity to food signals.If without insulin resistance you would have walked past a bakery, then with insulin resistance your brain will not allow you to do this. ”

An even more advanced approach that nutritionists use is to estimate the glycemic load of a product (GL)
The glycemic load simultaneously shows the glycemic index and quantity carbohydrates in food and is considered the best rating system, because it takes into account the portion size.

“If you use boiled potatoes or in their skins, the glycemic index is 65 and 70, respectively.And if you look at the glycemic load, then in jacket potatoes it is 10.6 versus 70 in sugar, “- notes Natalya Sycheva. – To find the GN of a product, multiply the GI by the amount of carbohydrates in your serving, and then divide the result by 100. This indicator is more convenient for identifying healthy carbohydrate foods. ”

Low HP – 10 or less;
medium – from 11 to 19;
high – 20 or more.

Another metric is net carbs
It is very important for those on low-carb diets and for people with diabetes.
Net carbs are those that remain after deducting the amount of fiber. Legally, this term does not exist and the formula is “derived” by hand. For example, if a food contains 10 grams of carbohydrates, including 5 grams of fiber, then it contains 5 grams of net carbohydrates.

“You don’t need to measure this if you’re just following a generally healthy diet,” says the nutritionist. According to her, it is necessary to strive to achieve the recommended fiber intake, which is 28 g per day.

© Dr.Peter

The doctor named the daily intake of sugar

Many foods naturally contain different types of sugars. The “extra” sugar used to sweeten drinks and food is harmful to health. Sugar consumption per day should not exceed 5% of the total calories consumed. Alexey Vodovozov, a physician of the highest category, told Inforeactor about this.

According to him, not all information about the dangers of sugar is true, this product was strongly “demonized”.

“The thing is, sugar itself does not cause anything terrible. Glucose, sucrose, fructose, maltose, it is naturally present in the bulk of food. The sugar that we additionally use in tea, coffee and elsewhere is harmful, ”the doctor said.

He explained that it is not the amount of sugar eaten that matters, but its total percentage in food.

Vodovozov added that the World Health Organization (WHO) advises adults to limit sugar intake per day to 5% of all calories consumed – that’s about six teaspoons.

WHO Recommended Sugar Intake Per Day: 5% of all calories consumed, or 6 teaspoons.

“If carbohydrates prevail during the day, then this is bad. If we look at energy consumption and calorie intake, then even the WHO recommends that ten percent of total energy intake in calories can be from simple sugars. Not all carbohydrates, which is important, ”said the doctor.

Carbohydrates are a large class of organic compounds, including fiber and cellulose.

“This is just about simple sugars and just about added sugar,” said Vodovozov.

According to him, replacing sugar with honey is pointless, since it also contains glucose and sucrose.

“It is often said that honey is a substitute for sugar. No, this is exactly the same sugar. There is the same glucose and the same sucrose. All the same simple sugars, ”said the therapist.

He stressed that it is necessary to rationally approach the diet and monitor proteins, fats and carbohydrates in the diet.The menu should be varied.

You need to rationally approach your diet. Watch out for proteins, fats and carbohydrates and do not use added sugars, the expert noted.

“It is important to remember that nothing will happen from one cup of coffee with a spoonful of sugar, but if you regularly put three or four tablespoons of sugar in tea and drink it five or six times a day, problems will begin. They will not be related to the fact that sugar causes cancer. Everything around us allegedly causes cancer, ”concluded Vodovozov.

90,000 When are carbohydrates converted to fat?

“Carbohydrates turn into fat at night!”, “Carbohydrates turn into fat before 10 in the morning !!!”. Familiar statements? They remind me of a fairy tale about Cinderella: “… remember, Cinderella, exactly at midnight your dress will turn into rags, and your carriage will turn into a pumpkin!” It is with a fairy tale that such statements are associated, since in real life human physiology is not able to change so rapidly.As if by magic, at first carbohydrates are perfectly absorbed and utilized by various tissues, then once and all the processes went backwards, and carbohydrates “went” into fat. Is this really possible or again we are dealing with regular bikes that have no ground under them?

Carbohydrates can be converted to fat

It is a fact that carbohydrates can be converted into fat. This process is called De novo lipogenesis (DNL). Under normal conditions, it proceeds very slowly (more than 10 hours), relatively evenly throughout the day after EVERY meal containing carbohydrates.So, in the absence of a clear excess of calories in the diet, the average conversion of dietary carbohydrates into fat is only a few percent (3-4%).

The conversion of carbohydrates to fat is an energy-intensive process compared to the direct accumulation of exogenous (from food) fat in the human body. About 25% of the energy contained in carbohydrates is converted into heat, while the deposition of dietary triglycerides in adipose tissue requires only about 2% of the energy. The net energy efficiency of converting carbohydrates to fat is much lower than the net energy efficiency of exogenous fat storage in adipose tissue.As a result, the theoretical excess energy storage in the form of fat will be lower when overfeeding with carbohydrates compared to overfeeding with fats. (Horton TJ, Drougas H, Brachey A, Reed GW, Peters JC, Hill JO. Fat and carbohydrate overfeeding in humans: different effects on energy storage. Am J Clin Nutr 1995; 62: 19-29.)

Several authors who have studied the effect of carbohydrates on the DNL scale, both in isoenergetic (energy-deficient) diets and diets with excess energy from carbohydrates, have found that carbohydrate intake resulted in a dose-dependent increase in fractional DNL.That is, the more carbohydrates are consumed, the more fat is synthesized. However, DNL remained a non-significant source of increase in total body fat because when measured in absolute rate of lipogenesis, it was only a few grams of fat per day.

It should be noted that the synthesis of fat from carbohydrates in the absence of excess energy, although it takes place in small quantities, does not lead to an increase in fat reserves, since in the absence of a surplus, the synthesis of fat in some tissues is balanced by the rate of its oxidation in others.

(Acheson KJ, Flatt JP, Jequier E. Glycogen synthesis versus lipogenesis after a 500-g carbohydrate meal. Metabolism 1982; 31: 1234-40.
Acheson KJ, Schutz Y, Bessard T, et al. Nutritional influences on lipogenesis and thermogenesis after a carbohydrate meal. Am J Physiol 1982; 246: E62-70.
Schwarz JM, Neese RA, Hellerstein MK, et al. Short-term alterations in carbohydrate energy intake in humans: striking effects on hepatic glucose production, de novo lipogenesis, lipolysis and whole-body fuel selection.J Clin Invest 1995; 96: 2735-43.
Aarsland A, Chinkes D, Wolfe RR. Contributions of de novo synthesis of fatty acids to total VLDL-triglyceride secretion during prolonged hyperglycemia / hyperinsulinemia in normal man. J Clin Invest 1996; 98: 2008–17
Relationship between carbohydrate-induced hypertriglyceridemia and fatty acid synthesis in lean and obese subjects. Hudgins LC1, Hellerstein MK, Seidman CE, Neese RA, Tremaroli JD, Hirsch J. J Lipid Res.2000 Apr; 41 (4): 595-604.)

For example, in one of the experiments, the following figures were obtained: the consumption of 500 grams of net carbohydrates from maltodextrin, which in people with a thin physique, that in people with obesity, within 14 hours led to the formation of an average amount of fat equal to 4-5 grams … ( Carbohydrate metabolism and de novo lipogenesis in human obesity. Acheson KJ, Schutz Y, Bessard T, Flatt JP, Jéquier E Am J Clin Nutr. 1987 Jan; 45 (1): 78-85.)

Distribution of glucose in tissues after a meal

It is amazing how many people “control” the fate of the carbohydrates eaten, predicting their entry either into fat or into muscles, but at the same time they do not know even the simplest – how exactly glucose is distributed in tissues after a meal.

Distribution of glucose in tissues after a meal

The figure shows an example for a single consumption of carbohydrate food, from which 90 g of glucose enters the bloodstream. An example is given for a healthy person, without disorders of carbohydrate metabolism, who has a diet without excess and without energy deficiency. The figure is 90 grams because this is the average amount of carbohydrates in the American diet (the average amount of carbohydrates per day divided by the average number of meals). On the left in the figure, the storage locations of glucose entering the blood are indicated, on the right – oxidation with the receipt of energy in the form of ATP.

Half of the incoming glucose is consumed by the muscles for direct oxidation and storage in the form of glycogen.

  • About 15-18% goes to nutrition of the brain. The brain, as we know, feeds on almost 100% glucose (in a state of ketosis, possibly up to 50% of energy is obtained from ketones, the products of fat metabolism).
  • 9-10% is consumed by the kidneys.
  • 20% of glucose replenishes glycogen stores in the liver. In the event of a decrease in blood glucose levels below normal, hepatic glycogen will flow in the form of glucose and return the glucose level to normal values.That is, the amount of glycogen in the liver is not a stable value and highly dependent on both the amount of carbohydrates consumed and the mode of their use. For example, when we do not eat for a long time (5-10 hours), glycogen stores are reduced to a minimum, and at the very first intake of carbohydrates, they rapidly replenish these stores.
  • And only about 2-3% of glucose enters fat cells (or liver cells, which can also produce fats from carbohydrates), where fat (triglycerides) is synthesized and stored from it.In fact, more glucose gets into the fat cells, but by no means all of it is used for the synthesis of fat – a considerable part is oxidized and provides the fat cells with energy. True, in comparison with muscles at rest, adipose tissue needs three times less energy for its needs.

This distribution of glucose occurs regardless of the time of day at which food is consumed, as well as the source of carbohydrates.

The situation with fructose is somewhat different. Its metabolism is limited to the limits of the liver, which, despite the fact that it spends up to 20% of the total daily energy necessary for the body to survive, is still not large enough to process both fructose and glucose in large quantities.Therefore, in physically inactive people, its use in an amount of more than 50 grams per day can lead to a greater amount of fat synthesis from carbohydrates, which is deposited in the liver itself.

In order for the synthesis of fat from carbohydrates to significantly go beyond normal values ​​(and this is a few percent of the consumed carbohydrates) and increase several times, it is necessary to create only one condition – to overeat carbohydrates so that the glycogen stores in the muscles and liver are filled to capacity …For which it will take a really large number of them ~ 700-800 g / day and several days in time (and not so that the clock struck midnight and everything changed dramatically). This has been confirmed by several studies at the same time, and not one has been refuted. Only after this, further overeating will lead to the fact that that part of carbohydrates that remains unclaimed by tissues for direct oxidation and deposition will begin to be actively synthesized into fatty acids and triglycerides in the liver and fat cells (see.fig). And this will also happen at the same rate throughout the day, as excess carbohydrates enter, and not just in the morning or only at night.

Quote from a large research paper on the topic of the article:

“DNL from carbohydrates affects fat balance when excess carbohydrates are ingested for a sufficient period of time under conditions of a positive energy balance”
(Concept of fat balance in human obesity revisited with particular reference to de novo lipogenesis.Y Schutz. International Journal of Obesityvolume 28, pages S3 – S11 2004)
(Acheson KJ, Schutz Y, Bessard T, Anantharaman K, Flatt JP, Jequier E. Glycogen storage capacity and de novo lipogenesis during massive carbohydrate overfeeding in man. Am J Clin Nutr 1988 ; 48: 240-7
Flatt JP. Dietary fat, carbohydrate balance, and weight maintenance: effects of exercise. Am J Clin Nutr 1987; 45: 296-306.)
Concept of fat balance in human obesity revisited with particular reference to de novo lipogenesis.Y Schutz. International Journal of Obesity volume 28, pagesS3 – S11 2004)

That is, the process of a sharp increase in the rate of synthesis of fat from carbohydrates is tied solely to the impossibility of storing them in the form of glycogen. Look again at the first figure, almost half of all glucose entering the blood is stored in the liver and muscles in the form of glycogen. And if this channel is cut off, where to “attach” unrealized glucose, which turned out to be superfluous? We remember the banal – “all unnecessary goes to fat.”This is a true truth, this is not a myth – the excess will have to be synthesized into fat, well, and a little excreted unchanged in the urine. Glycogen is synthesized at a limited rate, and even consumed in parallel, for one or two meals, its reserves cannot be filled to capacity. When an excess of carbohydrates is created deliberately against the background of empty glycogen stores, all studies without exception show that “the introduction of a large carbohydrate load does not cause a net increase in body fat.” Here you should pay attention to the definition – “PURE”, which means an increase in fat synthesized from carbohydrates, and not an increase in the total amount of fat depots in the body.Since in conditions of excess carbohydrates, a decrease in fat oxidation in cells is recorded, and this leads to its greater preservation in the body. Both taken with food, and your own, already stored in fat depots. Do not think that we do not gain fat from an excess of carbohydrates in principle. We are recruiting, only in a different way. In this article, we are talking about short-term factors of a significant (above normal) increase in the synthesis of fat from carbohydrates. This is exactly what science has not revealed in healthy people at the moment – carbohydrates eaten at night, in the morning or during the day, for no reason at all, do not turn into fat.Moreover, the prerequisites for this have not even been outlined, requiring further, detailed research.

( Hepatic and whole-body fat synthesis in humans during carbohydrate overfeeding. A Aarsland, D Chinkes, RR Wolfe. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Volume 65, Issue 6, June 1997, Pages 1774-1782,
Effect of Carbohydrate Overfeeding on Whole Body and Adipose Tissue Metabolism in Humans.Kaori Minehira Vincent Bettschart Hubert Vidal Nathalie Vega Véronique Di Vetta Valentine Rey Philippe Schneiter Luc Tappy.First published: 06 September 2012 )

Type of carbohydrates and DNL

They say it influences the amount of fat that is formed from carbohydrates – “carbohydrates from sugar and buckwheat are not the same thing.” Really not the same thing, buckwheat consists of starch, which is all digested to glucose, and sugar is digested to glucose and fructose. But from this some kind of magical ability to be deposited in fat does not appear in sugar. Everything again depends on the presence of EXCESS energy.

Thus, according to a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled and cohort studies on the effect of dietary sugar intake on body weight in adults and children (30 of 7895 trials (RCTs) and 38 of 9445 cohort studies were included in the review as acceptable), it was found that : “Among people on ad libitum diets (ie, without strict control of food intake), the consumption of sugars or sweetened sugar-based drinks is a determining factor in body weight.An increase in the proportion of consumed sugar is associated with an increase in body weight, a decrease – with a decrease. The findings indicate that the mechanism by which increased sugar intake may increase body fat is energy imbalance, rather than the physiological or metabolic effects of mono- and disaccharide intake. Those. the amount of energy received by the body exceeds its consumption. For example, sugar-sweetened drinks are less satiating, which can lead to heavy consumption, and solid foods with sugar tend to have a high energy density (for example, biscuits, chocolate), which are more likely to get an excess of energy from such foods than from other foods. …In addition, this conclusion confirms that, according to 12 studies, for a period from 2 weeks to 6 months, replacing sugars with other carbohydrates (including those with a lower GI) against the background of an isocaloric (deficient) diet did not cause changes in body weight. That is, qualitative changes in the form of carbohydrates without changing their amount did not change the current situation. However, it should be borne in mind that an abundant intake of dietary sources of fructose can contribute to the deposition of fat in the liver, an increase in the amount of visceral fat and serum lipid levels, regardless of the effect on body weight.”( Dietary sugars and body weight: systematic review and meta-analyzes of randomized controlled trials and cohort studies. Lisa Te Morenga, Simonette Mallard, Jim Mann. BMJ 2013; 346 doi : https : // doi . org /10.1136/ bmj . e 742)

Another study in which DNL from carbohydrates was studied, with a surplus of 50% (!!!) of the level of maintenance calories created by either sucrose or glucose alone in women with normal weight or obesity showed that “… lipogenesis de novo was 2- 3 times higher than after control treatment in all subjects.The type of carbohydrates used for overeating (sucrose or glucose) did not significantly affect de novo lipogenesis in both groups. The increase in DNL after overfeeding with glucose and sucrose occurred equally in lean and overweight women, but did not significantly contribute to the overall fat balance. ” ( De novo lipogenesis during controlled overfeeding with sucrose or glucose in lean and obese women. McDevitt RM1, Bott SJ, Harding M, Coward WA, Bluck LJ, Prentice AM. Am J Clin Nutr .2001 Dec ; 74 (6): 737-46.)

A whole scientific conference on the topic “The relationship of the glycemic index to lipogenesis in humans” could not establish a clear difference in the magnitude of DNL after ingestion of polysaccharides (starches) and simple sugars, despite the different changes in blood glucose and insulin levels. I quote: “The clear relationship between the glycemic index of carbohydrates consumed with food and its ability to stimulate lipogenesis awaits further study.” Until now, nothing has been clarified, and every second states that “fast carbohydrates go to fat.”

( Parks, EJ (2002) The relationship of the glycemic index to lipogenesis in humans. In Proceedings of the 6th (Millenium) Vahouny Conference, [Kritchevsky, D, editor])

DNL for disorders of carbohydrate metabolism

The situation develops somewhat differently in people with disorders of carbohydrate metabolism, for example, insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes. Like healthy people, they also do not observe sharp changes in DNL rates during the day, but the scale of DNL is always higher than normal, i.e.That is, more fat is synthesized in response to carbohydrate consumption than in healthy people, even in the absence of overeating, but there is also a more significant decrease in the rate of fat oxidation in hyperglycemia. In addition, after the intake of carbohydrates, the filling of glycogen stores in muscle tissue is recorded to a much lesser extent. So in one experiment, after a single consumption of carbohydrate food in healthy participants, the level of glycogen in muscles increased by an average of 17%, and in persons with early type 2 diabetes did not change at all, and in another, in persons with diabetes after a single intake of 200 g of carbohydrates, the level glycogen change by 6%, while in healthy participants by 40%.The main physiological mechanism of glycogen accumulation in skeletal muscle in diabetics was completely inactive, which is directly related to insulin resistance. Due to the limited transport of glucose into the cells, in persons with disorders of carbohydrate metabolism, a fairly large part of it is not utilized rationally – it is not used for oxidation in the most energy-consuming muscle cells and not for deposition in muscle glycogen. Unclaimed “for technical reasons” glucose is forced to be used for fat synthesis, i.e.Since this is the only remaining tool for lowering blood glucose levels (although some of the excess glucose will be excreted in the urine, for diabetics this is a characteristic feature – glucose in the urine). That is, everything here is tied to the possibility of glucose deposition into glycogen. In healthy people, excess glucose is used for the synthesis of glycogen until its reserves reach the limit (and not at nightfall); in unhealthy people, glucose cannot be used for glycogen synthesis even with unfilled depots, due to the existing pathology.( diurnal variation in skeletal muscle and liver glycogen in humans with normal health and Type 2 diabetes. Macauley M, Smith FE, Thelwall PE, Hollingsworth KG, Taylor R. Clin Sci (Lond). 2015 May 1; 128 (10 ): 707-13.)
Direct assessment of muscle glycogen storage after mixed meals in normal and type 2 diabetic subjects. Carey PE1, Halliday J, Snaar JE, Morris PG, Taylor R. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2003 Apr; 284 (4): E688-94. Epub 2002 Nov 26.)

Again, over a short period of time, there are no SIGNIFICANT changes in the metabolism of carbohydrates associated with the synthesis of fats from them. But during the day, fluctuations in other parameters of carbohydrate metabolism occur. For example, in the morning the insulin response is the highest in response to carbohydrate consumption, but at the same time, the greatest sensitivity of muscle tissues to insulin, a high rate of glucose utilization and an increased glucose metabolism in cells are recorded, i.e. its use as a source of energy.And in the evening, on the contrary, the rate of utilization of carbohydrates and insulin sensitivity are slightly lower, the oxidation of carbohydrates by cells is also less, but more of them are synthesized into glycogen. Such changes in time are caused by circadian rhythms. And here I would like to draw the reader’s attention to the fact that carbohydrate metabolism is most effective in the morning. Recently, on the Internet, information often slips that carbohydrates not only turn into fat at night, but also in the morning.Of course, no evidence is given for this, not a single reference to meta-analysis or RCTs (because there is no evidence for this), but the untrained public takes even such ridiculous tales at face value.

Metabolism of carbohydrates during the day

Quotes from scientific publications:

“Postprandial glucose excursion was significantly lower for breakfast (7-00) than lunch (13-00) and dinner (19-00). The sensitivity of β-cells to glucose and the disposition index were higher for breakfast than for lunch and dinner.(note. The disposition index characterizes the index of insulin sensitivity, acute insulin response). Extraction of hepatic insulin (approx. Removal of insulin from the bloodstream by the liver) was lower at breakfast than at dinner. Despite the same carbohydrate sources in food, suppression of endogenous glucose production was lower and insulin sensitivity was higher at breakfast than at lunch or dinner. Diurnal pattern to insulin secretion and insulin action in healthy individuals. Saad A, Dalla Man C, Nandy DK, Levine JA, Bharucha AE, Rizza RA, Basu R, Carter RE, Cobelli C, Kudva YC, Basu A.Diabetes. 2012 Nov; 61 (11): 2691-700.

“After a meal, the concentration of glucose for 120 minutes and glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide for 60 minutes in the evening tests (17-00) were higher than in the tests in the morning (7-00). (note. Glucose-dependent insulinotropic polypeptide acts as a stimulator of insulin secretion). A study of glucose metabolism showed that most of the postprandial blood metabolites associated with glycolysis, the tricarboxylic acid cycle and amino acids were elevated in the morning.Increased overall metabolic response, indicating the consumption of glucose as a source of energy) “ Effects of Meal Timing on Postprandial Glucose Metabolism and Blood Metabolites in Healthy Adults. Masaki Takahashi, Mamiho Ozaki, Moon-Il Kang, Hiroyuki Sasaki, Mayuko Fukazawa, Tamao Iwakami , Pei Jean Lim, Hyeon-Ki Kim, Shinya Aoyama and Shigenobu Shibata. Nutrients. 2018 Nov; 10 (11): 1763

“In subjects with normal weight, glucose tolerance was lower in the evening (18-00) in comparison with the morning (08-00).(Note. Low glucose tolerance is characterized by a higher level in the blood, which is not good). In obese subjects, tolerance in the morning is lower than in subjects with normal weight, but during the day it did not significantly decrease, as it did in non-obese subjects. The decrease in glucose tolerance in the evening in persons with normal body weight was caused by a decrease in insulin sensitivity and a decrease in the response of beta cells to glucose. In obese individuals, this did not happen (approx. In obese individuals, carbohydrate metabolism is impaired around the clock).” (Diurnal variation in glucose tolerance. Cyclic suppression of insulin action and insulin secretion in normal-weight, but not obese, subjects. Lee A, Ader M, Bray GA, Bergman RN. Diabetes. 1992 Jun; 41 (6): 750-9.)


– Quantitatively, the synthesis of fat from carbohydrates does not depend on the time of their intake during the day, on the glycemic index of carbohydrates consumed, but only on the amount of consumption.
-The synthesis of fat from carbohydrates under normal conditions (in the absence of overeating and pathologies associated with impaired carbohydrate or fat metabolism) is an insignificant source for increasing fat reserves in the body.