The latest science First, to be clear, ditching all sugars is madness – nobody’s advising that you drop all glucose, fructose, and lactose from your diet. The refined kind is another matter. The current NHS intake recommendation is no more than 30g a day, or less than 5% of your calories – a limit largely based on links between the sweet stuff and chronic diseases including obesity and type 2 diabetes.
This is where things get tricky: the most recent review of studies, published in December 2016 in the Annals Of Internal Medicine, concluded that low-sugar recommendations are ultimately based on weak science. Other experts immediately countered that the review was funded by a trade board that includes representatives from Coca-Cola and Hershey. Meanwhile, researchers are working on establishing causal links between sugar and disease: rodent research suggests that a molecule known as TNF-alpha, which has highly inflammatory properties, might connect obesity with diabetes, and Why We Get Fat author Gary Taubes is leading the charge in trying to link insulin resistance to brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Ultimately, new research hasn’t come up with sound reasons to put you off sugar – but the fact that it’s so calorie-dense and nutrient-sparse should be enough to prompt you to minimize your intake.
The expert takes “Yes, insulin inhibits fat oxidation and can increase fat storage,” says James Rutherford, a nutritionist, and Bio-Synergy ambassador. “But taking in sugar at the right time can be beneficial for exercise performance. It’s best consumed when demand for energy is high, which means the best time to consume high-sugar foods would be around exercise.