Do you have the green light to eat a ton of sugar in one sitting if your blood sugar level is in the normal range? For example, you’re healthy and have a glucose monitor device at home.
You decide to take your blood sugar reading, and as expected, it’s normal. You have not been diagnosed with diabetes, and in fact, are quite healthy and fit. You’re also not overweight.
So why is it harmful to ingest in one sitting a huge amount of white sugar or some other form of processed sugar like maple syrup?
It’s important to monitor your sugar intake, even in the absence of diabetes, says Leigh Tracy, RD, LDN, a dietitian at The Center for Endocrinology at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore.
“An excess amount of sugar in your diet can lead to weight gain, which in turn can increase your risk of a variety of health problems including heart disease and certain cancers,” says Tracy.
Well, what if weight gain isn’t a possibility?
What if you’re very lean, have an efficient resting metabolism and adhere regularly to intense exercise that keeps your body fat percentage in the “athletic” range?
When you dump a lot of sugar into your body all at once, this puts stress on the pancreas. The pancreas pumps out insulin to lower the rapidly rising level of sugar in the blood.
If you keep eating this way, even if you maintain a body fat percentage of 15 percent as a woman or 10 percent as a man, this will over time strain the pancreas.
A starting glucose reading in the normal range is not predictive of how harmless that a habit of high sugar consumption is on the body’s organs.
Granted, the best time to eat three glazed donuts at once is soon after an intense workout, when glucose metabolism is at its finest.
Another good time to inhale a stack of pancakes drenched in syrup is soon after awakening in the morning, when your body is in a state of carbohydrate deficit.
But the insult to the pancreas is just the same, not to mention the disastrous effect that high sugar consumption over time has on the cardiovascular system.
It goes without saying that these rules apply to a diabetic who happily sees a normal glucose reading.
Tracy explains, “The American Heart Association recommends women should limit their intake of added sugars to six teaspoons per day and men should limit it to nine teaspoons per day.”