Do we need to consume sugar? Know the truth

With the rise of ketogenic diets, many people wonder if we really need to consume sugar to keep the body functioning. The truth is that experts have offered diverse opinions in recent years. Therefore, we are going to tell you everything that science says about it.

Before starting, It is important to note that today's population tends to consume sugar in large quantities. This is mainly due to the increase in the intake of industrial ultra-processed products. These often have a high content of simple sugars and trans fats in order to improve the organoleptic characteristics of the final product.

What is sugar?

Sugar is a simple carbohydrate whose main component is glucose.

When we speak of sugar as such we refer to a type of simple carbohydrate made up primarily of glucose units linked by links.

Although such units can form more complex structures, they generally They have a high rate of absorption at the intestinal level. For this reason, they increase the amount of insulin produced, which has proven to be harmful in the medium term. Sugars can encompass the nutrients that we expose below.


They are sugars categorized as simple. Usually, They are made up of a series of glucose molecules linked by single bonds. Its regular intake is associated with a worse state of health, since it would affect metabolic health and the risk of developing overweight. This is evidenced by a study published in Frontiers in Bioscience.


Disaccharides are constituted by the union of monosaccharides through an o-glucosidic bond. These have a absorption rate a little slower than the previous ones, although they are still considered as simple sugars. For this reason, its intake should be limited as much as possible.

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Polysaccharides are carbohydrates mainly composed of glucose, although they form a network of bonds that significantly increases their molecular weight. For this reason, they already come under the consideration of complex sugars.

Their absorption speed is reduced and, therefore, the effects they cause in the body vary. These compounds are capable of generating minor blood glucose peaks.

How is sugar metabolized in the body?

Carbohydrates reach the small intestine where they are broken down into simple units by enzymes to be subsequently absorbed. Then, they pass into the blood and, thus, increase blood glucose and stimulate insulin secretion., the anabolic hormone that allows the transport of the nutrient to the cells or the liver.

When a person is at rest, sugar is stored and can become fat, if consumption is very high.

If physical activity is carried out, the sugar reaches the muscle tissues, where it will be converted into energy ready to be used. In the event that the subject is in a state of rest, it will be stored in the form of liver or muscle glycogen.

It is worth clarifying that these deposits are limited. At the moment in which they are saturated, the sugar begins to transform into fat at the liver level for subsequent accumulation in adipose tissue.

It is necessary to take into account that said increase in lipid reserves has proven to be detrimental to health, especially when it exceeds certain levels. From here, inflammatory processes are promoted, linked in many cases with the development of complex pathologies.

To know more: Is it possible to lose localized fat?

What is glucose used for in the body?

As we discussed, glucose is used primarily for the genesis of energy. It is the preferred fuel of the anaerobic routes of metabolism and can also be introduced in the aerobic ones.

However, the latter also accept fatty acids, or even non-sugar glucose. The latter is formed through physiological processes in which fatty acids and proteins are involved.

It should also be noted that glucose works as brain fuel. Anyway, and contrary to what was believed until recently, there are other compounds that can perfectly perform this function. An example of them would be the ketone bodies generated during ketosis.

Is it really necessary to consume sugar?

The truth is that everything seems to indicate that sugar is not necessary in the diet of sedentary people. Even in the case of athletes, its intake generates controversy. The body can function perfectly in low carbohydrate situations; in fact, this type of diet can be beneficial for the body.

Despite everything, you can consider a diet low in sugar and with the presence of complex carbohydrates. To do this, the consumption of sweets and ultra-processed foods should be significantly reduced, and that of fresh foods should be increased. This situation would be included in the theory of the middle term and would be advantageous for the functioning of the organism.

Eating sugar: a poorly advised nutrient

As we have been able to discover, sugar is a nutrient that contributes little value to the diet. In fact, most experts defend the need to reduce its consumption in sedentary subjects. Even in athletes the option of avoiding their intake is also debated. In this way, metabolic flexibility and performance could be increased in the medium term.

What is clear is that reducing your intake through diet has a positive impact on health. This is not to say that it is necessary to completely cut out carbohydrates.

Of course not: you can consume those that have a low glycemic index, that is, they are complex. These are the ones found in tubers and legumes, mainly.