Think back to your childhood and you’ll probably remember a favorite go-to sweet treat that takes you right back to those simpler days. There’s a common myth associated with that favorite sugary snack. In addition to bringing back sweet memories, the myth highlights sugar-laden foods that will keep your energy levels high throughout the day, or so they claim. But does your energy level benefit from foods high in sugar? The ultimate question is whether this energy rush is long-term and truly beneficial to our health.
Unfortunately, the answer isn’t as simple as yes or no. In short, sugar is needed, but it’s thetype of sugar that makes all the difference.
What’s the best type of sugar for all day energy?
Essentially, you can achieve the right energy mix from two types of carbohydrates — complex and simple. It’s important to remember that carbohydrates are not simply sugar: instead, they’re the raw materials that break down into sugar in your digestive system. We need both simple and complex carbs, but each in different capacities.
Simple carbohydrates or simple sugars are typically more processed and move through your digestive system much faster, such as baked goods, cereal, sweets and chocolates. If you read the nutrition label on some likely suspects, you are likely to find ingredients including glucose, sucrose, fructose, corn syrup, brown sugar, and raw sugar. These refined sugars have few vitamins and minerals and provide short term relief.
Foods rich in complex carbs should be the primary sugar source. Complex carbs take longer to digest and will likely keep your energy level high throughout the day. Common sources of complex cards include whole grains, nuts, legumes and beans. Starches like potatoes and carrots, fruit, as well as low fat milk and dairy products also tend to contain high volumes of complex carbs. Essentially, unlike common misconceptions of traditional sugar sources, complex cards should be the primary source for energy.
In comparison, simple carbohydrates give your system a quick pick-me-up, but complex carbs offer more lasting energy. If you’re going to go the simple sugar route for a quick pick-me-up, make sure you pair them with complex carbs. The key here is balance: match the simple and complex carbs with fiber and starch so that you’re not spiking your sugar levels with a burst of simple carbs and then hitting a crash later. After all, the goal is to maintain a source of consistent energy that keeps you running throughout the day.
So, what should you do to get long lasting relief?
A good rule of thumb is to choose more natural items when you feel like you need a lift. Some of the most popular options include nuts, trail mix, oranges, apples, and melons. Fruits tend to be more complex than fruit juices or smoothies. In lieu of the traditional candy bars, try something that can boost your system with sugars without the refined, simple carb dominance.
The common misconception that was once viewed throughout your childhood no longer holds true as to try to attain a balanced diet with long-term energy sources. A quick can of Redbull or a scoop of ice cream will only provide quick relief. Be mindful of your sugar intake and try to stick with a balance of complex and simple sugars. Nobody wants to crash mid-afternoon before going to home or heading off to the gym. Complex carbs will become your new best friend.