Nutrition Myth: “Natural Sugars”


The Myth.

We know, without any shadow of a doubt, that too much sugar is not good. There are documentaries about it, articles in magazines about it and I talk to people almost daily about the negative health effects of sugar consumption. We all know that sugar is not great for our health and fat loss.

However, we are still eating sugar in various different forms and often in pretty large quantities. Have you ever looked at the ingredients of snacks, bars, drinks and food products in your local health food store or the “healthy isle” in your supermarket? They all contain sugar. Each label will show sugar from dates, figs, honey, apple juice concentrate etc. “Natural sugars”. The question now are;

Q. Is adding a tablespoon of manuka honey to your herbal tea really that different to adding a brown sugar cube (or two) to your earl grey?

Q. Is blending two bananas into your morning smoothy really that different to eating a sugary bowl of cereal?

Q. Are these sugars doing such dramatically different things inside our body that one is “bad” and one is “good”?


Why Do We Believe This Myth?

As with so many nutritional/health challenges, the answer here can be broken in to multiple factors.


… There is no getting around the fact that we love sweet tasting food. Our brains are evolutionarily wired so that we seek and consume food that tastes sweet, as this means (to our hunter-gatherer brains) we have found a source of quick-release energy! Therefore, for a manufacturer of food to ensure their business continues to thrive, creating sweet tasting food is a very smart choice.

Natural sugar vs. Added sugar

Sugar in sufficient quantity is definitely “bad” for us but the boys and girls who make our food need us to enjoy it to buy more, healthy or otherwise. Advertising the use of “natural sugar” sounds an awful lot better than saying “added sugar”, doesn’t it? It’s hard to argue that Mother Nature usually knows best and using natural ingredients to achieve the taste we are drawn to makes a lot of sense.

But, does this mean a more beneficial effect on our waistline? With all we know about insulin resistance and the damaging effects of sugar in our diet, does the source affect the outcome?


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What’s The Truth?

The truth is that there isa definite benefit to consuming sugar from a natural source. The benefit is that the natural sugar will (more often than not) come with a host of nutrients on which your body can feed. A banana, for example, is loaded with B vitamins and a large servings of potassium. You certainly wont find that in your sugar bowl or in a bag of candy.

However, I am a personal trainer who works primarily with people wanting a leaner, healthy body and to live longer so that they can enjoy it. If this is your goal, then one of your primary concerns has to be to control, limit and mitigate your insulin output. Insulin is the hormone of ageing and the over secretion of insulin is a primary reason why body fat is stored. When sugars enter your blood stream, it doesn’t really matter where it originally came from (micronutrients aside). Sugar, no matter the source, has to be limited in order to enjoy a full health and great body.


Thanks for reading!

Related Blog Post:

Nutrition Myth: Wholegrain vs. White Grains >>> CLICK HERE

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