Is sugar the enemy?

It seems recently that there is a new nutritional message every few days and it's very confusing for people either trying to lose weight or become more healthy.

In this updated blog, today Public Health England has called on the food industry to change the amount of sugar contained in food and called obesity a pandemic...

Another debate that rages is whether we should reduce our fat intake (low fat) or whether sugar is the enemy.

Here's my take on it. The right type of fat is essential for a healthy diet and to aid weight loss. I'm sorry folks that doesn't mean cream cakes and chips all day, but eating good fats (in the right proportions), such as nuts, avocado, olive oil, eggs can burn fat but sugar well that's different.

Sugar is addictive and has no nutritional benefit in its purest form. I think one of the things that surprised me most was how much sugar is added to every day foods such as 4 teaspoons in Heinz tomato soup, Yeo Valley 0% fat vanilla yoghurt 5 teaspoons, 330ml of Coca cola 9 teaspoons, and if you ever watch the amazing Morgan Spurlock documentary "Super Size Me" you'll see that MacDonalds add sugar to most of their products.

So why do MaccyDs add sugar and why does Yeo Valley 0% yoghurt have added sugar? Call me cynical but they know it tastes good and is addictive. Once the fat is stripped out it has to be replaced with something to make it taste better.

Added sugar in our diets is unnecessary and has no nutritional benefits - empty calories is an expression you're probably familiar with - and that's sugar which will lead to weight gain. If you can't burn the calories (energy in vs energy out) you'll store the excess as fat.

That doesn't mean a no sugar diet will help you loose weight - although a no added sugar diet inevitably will. Confused? Let me explain a little further.

Carbohydrates both starchy (aka complex) and simple break down into glucose (sugar) in the body. Starchy carbs such as pasta, rice, potatoes, bread etc. are essential for energy and fibre - switch to brown, wholemeal or low GI for the best benefits. Remember when people used to eat pasta the night before running a marathon? That was for the energy and to have a glycogen store to call on for the effort needed. This is why people talk about reducing carbs in their diet - if they're not burning them off, it's being stored as fat. Simple carbs are found in fruit and vegetables, say no more! They are low in calories and we all know we can fill up on our 5 a day (or 7 now), and they contain essential vitamins and minerals.

So, sugar is addictive and has no nutritional value - some food for though (all puns intended!)