By now I’m sure you’ve figured out that sugar is a big culprit when it comes to weight gain. Going overboard with too many sweets can put you in a hole that will be difficult to dig out of. Now, there ARE natural forms of sugar that are okay to eat (and many of them are healthy for you, i.e., honey), but the key is knowing how sweets effect your body.

According to Authority Nutrition, here are several ways sugar makes you fat:

Sugar (sucrose) and high fructose corn syrup contain two molecules: glucose and fructose.

Glucose is absolutely vital to life and is an integral part of our metabolism. Our bodies produce it and we have a constant reservoir of it in the bloodstream.

Fructose, however, is very different. This molecule is not a natural part of metabolism and humans do not produce it.

In fact, very few cells in the body can make use of it except liver cells.

When we eat a lot of sugar, most of the fructose gets metabolized by the liver. There it gets turned into fat, which is then secreted into the blood. Here’s a few ways fructose effects weight gain.

1) Fructose causes insulin resistance. Excess fructose consumption is a known cause of insulin resistance and elevated insulin levels in the blood. When this happens, the body has a hard time accessing the stored fat and the brain starts to think that it is hungry. Then we eat more.

2) Fructose also causes weight gain by its effects on a hormone called leptin. Leptin is secreted by fat cells. The bigger the fat cells, the more leptin they secrete. This is the signal your brain uses to determine how much fat it has stored for a rainy day. When we eat food, some of it gets stored in the fat cells. This makes the fat cells get bigger and secrete more leptin.

3) Sugar is addictive. Eating sugar gives us “pleasure” and releases opiates and dopamine in the reward system of the brain, specifically in an area called the Nucleus Accumbens (8). These are the same areas stimulated by drugs of abuse like nicotine and cocaine. For certain individuals with a certain predisposition, this can lead to full blown addiction.

Getting over a sugar addiction can be hard, and will probably take time, but it is possible. To prevent weight gain caused by sugar, try to opt for nutritious options to satisfy your sweet tooth. For me, I enjoy frozen grapes and peanut butter (no added sugar, most PB is already sweet). Slowly remove the “bad” sweets from your diet and try to enjoy them in moderation instead of everyday.

If you’re REALLY serious about making a change, join me for the “Defeat the Sweets” challenge. From now until February 13th, all participants are being challenged to say no to sugar/sweets, the challenge ends just in time for Valentines Day :-). Join the challenge on Facebook and get more details HERE.