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Does Sugar Make You Fat

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Bodybuilding and Fitness Newsletter 1/15/2020


Is sugar making you fat? You might have heard that eating fat doesn't make you fat but sugar does. According to a research " In the United States, 35.7% of adults are obese (body mass index [BMI] ≥30 kg/m ) . Globally, estimates from 2008 suggest that 1.4 billion adults globally were overweight (BMI ≥25 kg/m ), and that at least 200 million men and 300 million women were obese"[1].

Read on to find out how sugar can make you fat. But before that, let's dive into what sugar is.

Sugar is a kind of carbohydrate that provide energy for the body. Carbohydrates can be classified into two - these are simple carbohydrates also known as simple sugar and complex carbohydrates ( starch).

Simple sugars are sugar that contains one or two molecules of sugar - monosaccharide and disaccharide. Monosaccharide contains one molecule of sugar. Examples are glucose, fructose and galactose. Disaccharides contains two molecules of sugar. They are formed when two Monosaccharides join together. For instance,

*         glucose + glucose = maltose

*         glucose + galactose = lactose

*         glucose + fructose = sucrose

Simple sugars are easily absorbed and utilitized by the body. They are found in fruits, honey and vegetables. They are also found in fizzy drinks, high fructose corn syrup, candy, and beverages.

Complex sugars contain three or more molecules of sugar. These are starch and fiber. They are not quickly digested by the body. They are found in whole grains, beans, and brown rice.

Most sugars are broken down into glucose in the body. Glucose is used by the cells in the body, especially brain cells and muscles. Most of the cells rely on glucose as the only source of energy. For instance, glucose is the only source of energy for the brain cells.

Sugar is very important in the body. When the blood sugar is low (hypoglycemia), it can cause dizziness, headache, and nausea. Then, how can sugar make you fat?


Sugar can only make you fat when you eat too much of sucrose(table sugar ) and High fructose corn syrup ( HFCS). Sucrose is a disaccharide that contains one molecule of glucose and fructose. It is present in fruits and it is also used as sweetener in processed foods , beverages and soft drinks.

High Fructose Corn Syrup is an artificial sweetener that contains 55% fructose and 42% glucose. It is often added to beverages and soft drinks because it is sweeter and cheaper than fructose.

Overconsumption of sucrose and HFCS can cause excess energy intake. According to a research "For thousands of years humans consumed fructose amounting to 16-20 grams a day, largely from fresh fruits. Westernization of diets has resulted in significant increases in added fructose, leading to typical daily consumptions amounting to 85-100 grams of fructose a day. The exposure of the liver to such large quantities of fructose leads to rapid stimulation of lipogenesis and TG accumulation, which in turn contributes to reduced insulin sensitivity and hepatic insulin resistance/glucose intolerance"[2].

Most beverages and soft drinks contain empty calories. They provide energy with little or no nutrients. People are likely to consume more since they do not cause fullness and that leads to overeating. A research stated that " there is evidence that sugar-sweetened beverages do not induce satiety to the same extent as solid forms of carbohydrate, and that increases in sugar-sweetened soft drink consumption are associated with weight gain" [3].

When you take in sugar, the blood sugar level rises, then the pancreas secretes insulin. Insulin transports glucose through the blood stream to cells where they're used for energy.

The excess glucose are moved to the liver and muscle cells where it is stored as glycogen for future use. The process is known as glycogenesis. Most of the glycogen are stored in the muscles. When these cells and other glycogen reservoirs are filled with glycogen, extra glucose is then stored as fat. This process is called lipogenesis.

Fructose and glucose are processed separately in the body. Fructose is processed by the liver. It must be converted to glucose before it can be absorbed by the cells . It doesn't trigger the production of insulin .

Many studies have shown that increase in sugar consumption can cause obesity. For instance " The systematic review and meta-analysis by Te Morenga et al. included 30 randomized controlled trials (19 of which were ad libitum and 11 were isoenergetic) and 38 prospective cohort studies. The "ad libitum" randomized controlled trials and cohort studies agreed with each other that when individuals either reduced or increased sugar consumption a "small but significant" effect on body weight occurred. On average, individuals in the ad libitum trials and cohorts studies lost 0.8 kg and when they reduced their sugar intake, and gained an average of 0.75 kg when they increased their sugar consumption "[4].


Fruits contain dietary fibers that gives you the feeling of satiety and prevent you from overeating. It also contains vitamins a minerals. Apart from that, most fruits also contain anti-obesity properties. A research stated that " clinical studies have shown that increasing the daily consumption of fruit is inversely correlated to weight gain . It was also shown that the consumption of whole fruit contributes to a reduced risk of long-term weight gain in adults by reducing the total energy intake . Several mechanisms are thought to be responsible for the anti-obesity effect produced by fruit, but still it is tough to point out a particular mechanism that allows some simple high-sugar fruits to contribute to anti-obesity"[5].



1. Yvonne H. C. Yau and Marc N. Potenza. 2013 Sep; 38(3): 255-267. " Stress and Eating Behaviors". Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4214609/

2. Heather Basciano, Lisa Federico , and Khosrow Adeli. 2005; 2: 5. "Fructose, insulin resistance, and metabolic dyslipidemia". Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC552336/

3. van Dam RM, et al. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2007. "Carbohydrate intake and obesity". Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/17992188/?i=2&from=/21519237/related

4. James M. Rippe and Theodore J. Angelopoulos. 2016; 55(Suppl 2): 45-53. "Sugars, obesity, and cardiovascular disease: results from recent randomized control trials". Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5174142/

5. Satya P. Sharma , Hea J. Chung , Hyeon J. Kim, and Seong T. 2016 Oct; 8(10): 633. "Paradoxical Effects of Fruit on Obesity". Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5084020/

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