When and Why Are Sugar and Processed Carbohydrates Bad For Us?

female person cooking kitchen healthy bio food

Sugar and processed carbs are everywhere in a typical modern American diet, but they’re not doing us any favors. 

Examples of “processed” or “refined” carbohydrates are: rice, bread, grains, and pasta.  

Sugar and processed carbs taste good and last a long time on shelves, but our bodies handle these foods differently than whole foods, causing problems.

Eating sugar and processed carbs quickly raises our blood sugar levels causing the body to release a hormone called insulin which goes to work storing the blood sugar as body fat. 

This spike is followed by a crash, leaving us tired, craving more of the same, and meanwhile storing excess body fat. It’s a cycle that’s hard to break.

Beyond storing blood sugar as body fat, insulin is a signal for a bunch of other cellular processes in the body.  When insulin is overproduced regularly over time, those cellular signals are constantly out of whack and the result is higher risk of diseases like diabetes, heart problems, and some cancers. 

To reduce these negative health effects while supporting high performance, we aim to eat foods that don’t cause blood sugar spikes: “meats & vegetables, nuts & seeds, some fruits, little starch, and NO SUGAR.” 

“But I saw my favorite CrossFit athlete eating sugar and processed carbs! / But I workout enough to burn off those calories!”

– The sugar and processed carb foods you saw them eat most likely represent a very small percentage of their daily nutrition, which is predominantly nutritious whole foods.  

– They may be eating the sugar/carbs for a specific reason: quickly replenishing glycogen in their muscles in between high intensity training or competition sessions.  In doing so, they are prioritizing the short term benefit (ability to perform at high intensity again that day) over the long term health risks of chronic disease caused by regularly spiking insulin levels.

– Depending on how much and how often, they may be accepting higher long term risk of chronic disease as a shortcut to eating enough calories to support an extreme volume of exercise.  You can maintain a low body fat percentage by burning off all the calories and still end up with diabetes and the other diseases associated with regular insulin overproduction – and indeed many have. 

Long story short, stick to the Reverb Grocery Guide – it works!



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