Your body uses sugar for energy, but it is able to break down other kinds of food into sugars in order to get the energy it needs. Sugar is important from the right sources, but just eating sugar can confuse your body and make you feel hungry too soon.
Sugars Confuse Your Body
You don’t just get hungry when your stomach is empty, you also get cravings when your body is running low on important nutrients. Carbohydrates are a nutrient and your body needs them, but there are two kinds of carbohydrates.
Some carbohydrates, called “complex carbohydrates”, digest slowly. These are the carbs that come from sources like grains. This means that after you eat them, they gradually release sugar into your body, which your body can use as needed for several hours. Incidentally, because complex carbs take so long to digest, they also leave your stomach feeling fuller longer. This can also help to keep hunger at bay.
Other carbohydrates, namely sugars, are called “simple carbohydrates”. These are much easier for your body to break down. That means that instead of supplying your body with long-burning energy for a few hours like complex carbs do, it is able to extract and either burn or store the sugars in a very short amount of time. This can leave your body confused and thinking that it needs more energy. Of course, it doesn’t. If you ignore the urges your body can use stored energy or energy from other sources. Still, it can be hard to resist those urges.
This relationship is important for people with diabetes to understand. There’s a rumor that carbohydrates cause blood sugar spikes, but that’s not entirely true. Complex carbs cause a gradual rising in blood sugar, which is normal and healthy. Simple carbs, however, cause steep spikes as sugar is quickly released and quickly depleted. Sometimes, because in diabetes the way that the body processes energy doesn’t work the way it should, all of that sugar is not stored the way that it should be. This means that all of that sugar can quickly rush into the blood and then stay there for a long time. The blood is meant to carry some sugar for some time, but if it’s constantly loaded with sugar it can start to damage sensitive tissues like nerves and narrow blood vessels. That’s part of what makes diabetes so dangerous.
Sugary Foods Leave You Craving More
Similarly, sources that are high in sugar tend to be low in other nutrients. This is called being energy-rich and nutrient-poor. The only common exception is fruit, which can have quite a bit of sugar but comes with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
As mentioned above, you experience hunger when there’s not much in your stomach, but you also experience hunger when some of your dietary needs haven’t been met. This means that when you eat foods that have lots of sugar but not much else, your body still feels like it needs more.
What About Fruit?
It’s unfortunate that fruit is so high in sugars, but it’s true. If you really like your fruit, you can still have some, but make sure that there are other things on your plate as well.
Fruit can be a healthy source of simple carbs, but you still don’t want to have too many simple carbs. So, put some fruit on the side of your plate and make sure that most of your plate is made up of low-carb vegetables, slow-burning carbs like whole grains, and plenty of protein. Protein is another nutrient that your body can use for energy but that takes a while to break down. It also doesn’t change your blood sugar at all because the energy in protein doesn’t come from sugars.
Hopefully, this article has helped you to understand how eliminating sugar can help you control your hunger. Even if you don’t completely eliminate sugar by allowing yourself some fruit, stay away from sources of highly refined sugars, like soda, sweets, and store-bought bakery.