Sugar: Good or Bad?

If you're good friends with the internet, you've heard it all at this point. "Sugar is horrible for you, don't eat any of it!" Or, "sugar is ok in moderation. Have some here and there." Or maybe even, "sugar is fine, have as much of it as you want!" Whatever the case may be, I'm willing to bet that you've taken in a lot of information and you just have no friggin' clue what's right or wrong. It's all a blur at this point and you find yourself even more confused than before. 

I'm here to tell you that it's all going to be OK. Relax, take a few deep breaths. In this article we are going to go over all of the things you've heard about sugar, why that specific idea is wrong or right, and leave you with a good understanding of how you should be managing your sugar intake. 

Before we get into the nitty gritty, I just want to make sure that we are all on the same page. All of the debate and discussion in this article will be based on the effect sugar has on body composition and more specifically, body fat loss. This information in no way has anything to do with the diabeetus, or anything of that matter. 

The Diabeetus

The Diabeetus

The 3 Sugar Approaches

Why the government is involved with a lot of things including our food is beyond me. They've given horrible advice on nutrition and have stretched and even twisted the truth on a lot of things. Sugar and its association with obesity is one of them. Years ago, word was spreading that sugar intake is horrible for you and has a direct correlation to obesity. From added sugar in sodas, to sugar in fruit, cookies, and other things of the sort, they were all deemed "bad for us" due to the fact that they had sugar in them. So what happened? Sugar intake went WAY down, especially with the growth of artificial sweeteners (another topic for another time), and obesity still continued to rise. Just another fantastic job by our amazingly competent government. 

After that, the "everything in moderation" movement came about and sugar hopped on board since it had been getting such a bad rap. "As long as you stay under 'x' amount of sugar in a day, you'll be 'fine' and won't gain any body fat. Everything in moderation." Guess what, that started restricting people and what's the cause of that? Binge eating. 

Then, some studies came out that show sugar doesn't have a direct negative effect to body composition. Since then, the "If it fits your macros" movement took this and abused the living crap out of it. From pics of roided-out meatheads with ten donuts on instagram, to the "I lost 50 pounds by starving myself and now I know everything about fitness" people, popularity in cheat meals and binging grew like crazy. "Eat all the sugar you want, eat all the junk you want. No consequences and you'll get lean at the same time." C'mon, gimme a break.

So, What's the Truth?

Just like most things in the fitness industry, there isn't really a one size fits all answer. For improved body composition, there are no magic foods. There is no such thing as the perfect training protocol. Perfect "this" and perfect "that" don't exist. Similarly, there's no such thing as the perfect amount of daily sugar intake. Those are all myths. 

Wouldn't it be so easy if I could just end this article and say, "eat no more than 100 grams of sugar each day and you will lose body fat"? Of course it would. But I have a suggestion for you that is even better. 

A study was released that compared change in body composition and fat loss on those who consumed about 100 grams of sugar per day, and another group that consumed about 10 grams of sugar per day. Calorie intake was the same for both groups. Guess which group lost more weight? Neither. There were no differences in body composition between groups when calories were the same. Additionally, blood levels improved in BOTH groups due to their drop in body fat. So what does this mean? SUGAR IS NOT THE ENEMY AND YOU CAN EAT IT!

But if sugar isn't the enemy, what is? 


I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this in almost every nutrition article I've written, but I'll say it again. Being unwilling to track your food intake is stupid and reckless if you're trying to achieve any sort of body composition goal. If you were trying to save more money per month from your salary, you wouldn't just skip doing a budget and spend money without tracking where it goes, would you? No, because that's stupid. 

Your calories and macronutrients are like a budget, and your sugar intake is a part of that budget as well. While tracking your daily food intake, you have to make sure that the sugar you are consuming isn't causing you to go over your macronutrient and calorie goals. If you made $80,000/year, it wouldn't be smart to buy a $70,000 dollar car, would it? By the way If you think there's nothing wrong with that, you need to get your head checked ASAP.

Don't declare bankruptcy on your macros.

Don't declare bankruptcy on your macros.

Similarly, if you have 100 grams of carbs and 100 grams of protein left in the day, and you load up on sugar (let's say two packs of Pop Tarts for example, you'd be over on your carbs by 44 grams and you'd have 88 grams of protein left. Good luck making a meal that has all that protein and not one gram of carbs. 

Here's my point: eat all the sugar your heart desires when the time is right and it fits within your macros. Just be sure that a majority of your carbohydrates are coming from whole food sources. Treat your macros and calories like a budget, and you won't have to worry about going "over" on your sugar intake for the day. You'll be able to enjoy social gatherings, grandmas pie, and live a stress-free life. 


Surwit, R. S., M. N. Feinglos, C. C. McCaskill, S. L. Clay, M. A. Babyak, B. S. Brownlow, C. S. Plaisted, and P. H. Lin. "Metabolic and Behavioral Effects of a High-sucrose Diet during Weight Loss." The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Apr. 1997. Web. 18 Apr. 2017.

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