Is Natural Sugar Better Than Added Sugar?

EndurElite Chief Endurance Officer Matt Mosman separates fact from fiction and discusses if natural sugars are healthier than added sugar.

Natural Sugar vs. Added Sugar Fast Facts

Ever wonder if natural sugars, like those found in fruits, are “healthier” than added sugars like sucrose (which also happens to be present in fruit) found in candy?

  • It’s a commonly held misconception that sugars from fruit are “better for you” than sugars from, say, jelly beans, but the simple sugars in each are metabolized in the exact same way.
  • Your pancreas really doesn’t care where you get those sugars from. The bigger problem is the QUANTITY of sugar found in each (a 100-gram apple has 17 grams of sugar while 100 grams of jelly beans has 70) and what your body decides to do with it.
  • As an endurance athlete you’ll more than likely “burn off” the sugar (added or natural)) while your running, biking, etc...but if you’re a mountain dew drinking couch surfer who doesn’t exercise, that’s when it becomes a problem.
  • Take home point? Added sugar is not the devil. The culprit is eating TOO MUCH sugar in general when you shouldn’t be.

Full Video Transcription:

Ever wonder if the natural sugars found in this apple are better than the added sugars like sucrose found in this lollipop? That is going to be the topic for our 60-second Brain Bomb for today. Now it's been quite fashionable to be anti-sugar these days, with people saying it's gonna cause cancer, Alzheimer's, and overall, added sugar is just the devil. But is there any truth to that? 

The fact of the matter is, your pancreas doesn't treat added sugars versus natural sugars any differently. The bigger problem comes in is with how much sugar is found in each. So take, for example, this 100-gram apple. It has about 17 grams of sugars, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, where 100 grams of jellybeans, for example, will have 70 grams of sugars. And then beyond that, what's your body gonna do with these sugars once you consume them?

Now, if you're an endurance athlete where sugars are the main fuel source, it's probably not gonna be a problem because you're gonna burn it off. But if you are a Dorito-eating, Mountain-Dew-drinking couch surfer and you eat a lot of sugar, that's where it's gonna be a problem.

So, take-home point, I don't encourage you to slam Pixy Stix. You should always probably try to choose a more nutrition option, but if you decide to have a lollipop every once in a while, it's probably not gonna kill you.