Sweet Tooth: How Sugar Works in the Body

As a whole, this country and its waistline are bulging with ignorance. You can run to just about anyone these days and ask them what causes you to gain weight, and you will give some generic answer about carbs. They will tell you to stay away from bagels, rice, and pasta because there are too many carbs. Little do they realize that the six hundred grams a sugar they are eating in the day are being stored as the same thing.

Slamming a Mt. Dew on your way to work in order to wake up is not the best or smartest thing I have ever heard of. “I use it for the sugar, to wake me up and it’s the only one of the day”, I don’t know how many times I have heard that. So you fast all night while you are sleeping because of course you didn’t have your final meal of the day. Then you are going to wake up and the first the first thing going in is PURE SUGAR.

Sugar is a carbohydrate!

Carbohydrates are our bodies main source of energy.

As we eat carbs the human body breaks them down into simple sugars, which then enter our blood stream. Following the entrance into the bloodstream, the pancreas secretes insulin to push the sugar into our cells to be used as a quick burst of energy.

You want this reaction to happen slowly. So eating straight simple sugar is not in your best interest. Whole grains are going to be slower than white grains.

Fructose, Glucose, and Sucrose

Fructose is a sugar found naturally in many fruits and veggies. Unfortunately, it is also what we add in our sodas and flavored drinks. That being said it is this is not the preferred energy source for the body because it only gives a quick burst of energy and no long lasting effects.

Fructose, having a different metabolic pathway will enter the body and only be metabolized in the liver while relying on fructokinase to begin the process of breaking it down.

Now fructose, unlike glucose, does not cause an insulin spike within the body, which means no production of leptin.

Leptin is a key hormone in the body’s process of regulating its energy intake and energy expenditure. So with no production of leptin your body will have no idea how much energy it needs from your meal or how much you will need to burn it off.

Because there is no insulin spike within the body fructose has nowhere to go. With no insulin to push it into the cells, your body will do the only thing it knows what to do, store it as fat for energy later down the road since fat has a net worth of 9 calories compared to that of carbs and protein with 4 calories.

Glucose, or for you nerds out there, is the most important monosaccharide and also the brain and muscles go to energy source throughout the day.

Also referred to as “Blood Sugar” glucose travels throughout the body via the blood. In order for this to happen the body relies on enzymes glucokinase or hexokinase to kick start the metabolism. Once this starts the body will then process the carbohydrates either for immediate use, store it in the muscles, or it will be stored in the liver for later use.

One way to view it, unlike fructose, insulin is secreted in response to the presence of glucose in the blood. Once secreted it then drives the glucose into the cells for use.

Last, but certainly not least, we have Sucrose. Sucrose is commonly known as table sugar and comes from sugar cane or sugar beets.

Now when sucrose enters the body a certain enzyme called beta-fructosidase is secreted. This enzyme breaks down sucrose into glucose and fructose. Once they have been separated they are then taken down their own individual metabolic pathway.

Glucose elicits the specific response it was intended to do. At the same time, this process is happening the body is also taking in fructose.

Since the body can only use one energy source at a time, it chooses glucose. As the sucrose is broken down the glucose molecule will be used immediately. If the excess or fructose is not used up immediately then the body will take this and put it into fat synthesis.