Ooey, gooey, sweet and more-ish. Foods high in sugar can sometimes be hard to stop at one. Let’s be honest, a campfire marshmallow is rarely a singular tasting! So what is it about sugar that makes us want more? And how does eating sugar impact our external physique and our inner physiology? Is there a relationship between belly fat and eating sugar? Find out below!
Sugar and insulin
When we eat sweet foods our brain activates the release of insulin. It is the role of insulin to move that sugar from our bloodstream to where it can be used. Our brain and our muscles love using sugar as fuel because it arrives quickly and can be used efficiently. BUT, if there’s a lot of sugar in that bloodstream highway, insulin will park the excess sugar on the sidelines ‘for later’. Hello fat cells!
Our body is pretty smart at just keeping our blood sugar in a certain range. If we over-consume sugar on the regular, the body thinks ahead and tends to keep the insulin levels high all the time… surely this smart move in being prepared and ready, right?
Insulin is also known as the ‘fat storage hormone’ and its favourite storage site is the abdomen. So if there’s plenty of insulin at the ready to store excess energy, be prepared to see a little more belly fat develop.
The combination of high sugar and high insulin can also derail the ’fullness’ signals to the brain. The appetite-suppressing hormone ‘leptin’ fails to respond to excess sugar and instead can ramp up your hunger leading you to eat even more.
Also read: 10 Common Causes Of Unexpected Weight Gain
Sugary foods often lack protein, fibre and healthy fats that help our body recognise fullness. So in the end, we are capable of consuming a large volume of the sweet stuff. It’s a vicious cycle.
EXCESS SUGARY FOODS + EXCESS REFINED CARBS = INCREASED INSULIN + INCREASED FAT STORAGE
So what can we do to prevent this?
- Focus on consuming lean protein, healthy fats, high fibre and plenty of non-starchy vegetables. Here is a great example of a 7 day menu that balances out these wholefoods.
- When it comes to carbs, choose wholegrains and nourishing starchy vegetables.
- When you are consuming a ‘sweet’ indulgence, have a small serve and eat it slowly. There is no guilt allowed! Perhaps even enjoy your sweet with a healthy fat or protein to help trigger the fullness feeling – nuts or yoghurt are great examples. Here are a few balanced sweet treats we recommend.
- Focus on what you do regularly, rather than your occasional treat.