When people embark on a new diet, they often cut fruit of their diet in order to decrease their sugar intake. However, fruit is an important part of any diet – it’s filled with an array of vitamins, minerals and natural sugars which will help you to remain healthy and happy. However, when it comes to refined sugar vs natural sugar, there’s a distinct difference – but what exactly is the difference between the two?
Refined Sugar vs Natural Sugar: Is There a Difference?
People often think that there are no differences between refined sugar and natural sugar; they’re both simple carbohydrates, after all. However there is an unmistakeable difference between the two.
Most fruits contain natural sugars, which is what people try to avoid. However, unlike refined sugar, natural sugar from fruit is packed with fibre, vitamins, antioxidants and water – helping you to remain satiated, healthy and energetic.
Refined sugar is slightly different to natural fruit sugars. Refined sugar derives from sugar cane or sugar beets, which are processed to extract the sugar. Unlike natural sugar, refined sugar is packed full of ‘empty’ calories as it doesn’t provide your body with any other nutrients, making you more likely to put on weight.
Why Can Refined Sugar Make You Put on Weight?
When it comes to refined sugar vs natural sugar, there’s one distinct difference. Refined sugar is much more likely to cause weight gain. Why?
Refined sugar can cause you to experience extreme fluctuations in energy, followed by an intense sugar craving.
Refined sugar can be found in a range of foods, from cakes and biscuits to sweets and chocolate. Unlike fruit, these foods contain very little nutritional value and minimal fibre. The lack of fibre means that these foods are digested quickly by the body, causing a sugar rush. This prompts the body to release insulin to help to remove the sugar from the blood and deposit it into the tissues, causing a sugar crash.
When you experience a sugar crash, you might feel weak, grumpy and lightheaded and you’ll almost certainly be craving more sugar, making you more likely to reach for another slice of cake. This continues as a vicious cycle – the more refined sugar you consume, the more you’ll crave, which will often result in over-eating and weight gain.
For this reason, sugar cravings can be difficult to combat. When you eat refined sugar, there’s a surge of dopamine in the brain causing a similar high to many recreational drugs. The brain then continues to seek out sources of refined sugar to produce the positive feelings that come from the release of dopamine. This is often why people crave sugary ‘comfort’ foods when they’re feeling down.
When you consume too much refined sugar, your liver will be forced to expand and you’ll exceed its glycogen stores. Your liver then converts the excess glycogen into fatty acids and deposits them in inactive parts of your body, including; bum, hips, stomach and thighs.
Because fruit is a great source of fibre, you won’t experience sugar highs and lows like you would with refined sugar. Natural sugar provides your body with a longer source of energy, without the crashes and cravings.
Natural Sugar vs Refined Sugar: Where Can They Be Found?
Natural sugar can be found in a range of fruits and vegetables. Some of the best sources of natural sugar include:
- Fresh Fruit
- Some Vegetables
However, refined sugar is often a lot more difficult to spot than natural sugar and can be hidden in a range of food – even soup! Some of the ingredients to look out for include:
- Cane Juice
Ultimately, a healthy diet includes everything in moderation, but when it comes down to natural vs refined sugar, natural sugar is the one you should look to include in your diet.