The Fitness Truth About Sugar-Free Foods

Sugar-Free labeled products might not be sugar free at all.  Some dairy products make the claim "no sugar added," but they are made with milk which has lactose, a sugar, as a component.  Other labels may read, "Sugar free, sweetened with fructose," which in essence means, "Sugar free, sweetened with sugar."  Following you'll find a list of the various types of sugars and brief explanations.  If any food is labeled sugar free, but contains any of the compounds listed, you'll know the label is, at best, misleading.

Beet sugar: sucrose originating in a sugar beet

Brown sugar: brown sucrose

Cane sugar: sucrose originating in sugar cane

Carob powder: This extract of the carob tree is sold in many foods labeled "natural." Don't mistake that to mean, "without the presence of sugar." Carob powder, sometimes listed as carob flour is 75 percent sucrose, glucose, and fructose!

Corn Syrup: Plain and simple . . . it's sugar! Sugar produced from starch . . but sugar just the same.

Dextrin: Dextrin and polydextrin are sugars, however, they are glucose molecules linked in chains. While their absorption might be slightly slower than simple glucose, they do break down into pure glucose and can have a dramatic effect on blood sugar. Combining Dextrin and Maltose chains to create maltodextrin structures the sugars in a way that more closely resembles complex carbs and slows the release of sugar.

Dextrose: another simple one. Glucose. Period.

Fructose: this may also be called fruit sugar or levulose. It is one of the most common natural sugars and is found in abundance in fruit and honey. While it is natural, so then is "sugar cane," so again, as in the case of carob powder, natural doesn't necessarily equate to "will not elevate blood sugar." Fructose is a simple sugar and a very ripe banana might affect your blood sugar levels in much the same way as a candy bar.

Glucose: this is actually the chemical sugar structure of blood sugar. It causes a rapid and substantial rise in blood sugar levels. All carbs ultimately break down into glucose. Putting pure glucose into the digestive tract is probably the quickest way to elevate blood sugar and throw the chances of stimulating fat release to the wind.

Glucose syrups: Corn syrup is a glucose syrup as are cane syrup and corn syrup solids. They are sugars produced from starch and contain a mixture of glucose and maltose molecules.

Grape sugar: another name for glucose

High-fructose corn syrup: Another syrup which is made from corn syrups. Read about corn syrup, read about fructose, and you'll understand, this is a sugar!

Honey: Yes, it's natural . . but . . . its roughly 35 percent glucose, 40 percent fructose, and 25 percent water.

Lactose: This is milk sugar. It makes up 4.5 percent of cows' milk. It is hardly ever used commercially as a sweetener, is not as sweet as table sugar, and since it is contained in protein-laden foods it has less of a negative glycemic effect than most sugars mentioned here. If the goal is to become as lean as possible, for a period of several weeks while on a fat loss regimen, limiting intake of dairy products may help increase fat release by cutting back on lactose.

Maltose: Formed by two linked glucose molecules, maltose rapidly breaks down to glucose in the intestine.

Maple syrup: Sugar from the sap of maple trees. It's mostly sucrose.

Milk chocolate if this is included on the ingredient label, there is sugar present! Even if the big print says "Sugar Free!" Milk chocolate is made by mixing milk, sugar, and cocoa butter to bitter chocolate.

Molasses: contains from 50 - 75% sugar.

Saccharose: sucrose

Sucrose: A naturally occurring sugar made from sugar cane or sugar beets. It's commonly referred to as "sugar" or "table sugar." It's made of equal parts glucose and fructose.

Sweetened condensed milk: If this is an ingredient, there is sugar present. This is made by cutting the water content in milk and then adding sugar until you have a substance containing 40-50% sucrose. Watch out, when examining meal replacements and protein supplements, for "Sweetened condensed whey." Many have learned to recognize whey as a protein source and they fail to take note of that first word . . . "sweetened."

Turbinado: sucrose

That's not even a complete list but it should illustrate that there are quite a variety of options for food manufacturers who wish to attempt to hide those words that we commonly recognize as sugars. This list should help you identify the foods that are best avoided if fat loss and energy are concerns.

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