Sugar vs. Carbs: Not All Carbs Are the Same To Your Blood Sugar

Sugar vs Carbs and how to count them

What’s the difference between a sugar and a carbohydrate? 

Let Start Simple – What Is Your Blood Sugar?
Sugar and glucose mean the same thing. Your blood sugar measures the amount of glucose freely flowing within your blood. Glucose is a single molecule that is very easy for the body to turn into energy. It comes from the sugars you eat: simple sugars like sucrose from table sugar, lactose from milk, or fructose from fruit. It can also come from complex carbohydrates such as vegetables and whole grains. Your digestive system turns all simple and complex sugars into glucose (sugar). 

Inside your body, the glucose moves from your blood and into your cells by a hormone called insulin. When there’s a problem with your insulin, you develop a disease called diabetes. Your pancreas might not produce enough insulin or your body’s cells might become resistant to insulin, known as insulin resistance.

If you consume too much sugar and your blood sugar stays high for too long, you could eventually wear out your pancreas which means you can’t produce insulin. Or what could happen is your cells will develop insulin resistance because there’s just too much sugar to process. Either way, it’s a severe health issue that can lead to complications and even death.

What’s the Difference Between Carbohydrates and Sugar?
Sugar is a generic term for any disaccharides and monosaccharides (saccharide = sugar). They are absorbed into your body easily. Table sugar is a disaccharide made of sucrose and glucose.

Carbohydrates (carbs) are any molecule made of sugars. It includes all sugars, starches, and fibers. 

Starches are made of lots of simple sugars strung together, and your body can easily break them back down into simple sugars. Fiber is also a complex carbohydrate, but your body cannot break down most fibers, so eating foods with fiber can help you feel full and eat less.

Why Some Carbs Are Good For You and Some Are Bad

Not all carbs are bad. Fiber is a necessary component of our diet and found in whole grains, fruits, and especially vegetables. These help our digestive system keep moving, and it feeds certain beneficial bacteria within your gut that help keeps you healthy.

Fiber and complex carbs, particularly the ones found in vegetables, benefit our health in so many ways. Plus, they encourage us to eat foods that are very high in nutrients (vegetables) that we need to be healthy.

But that doesn’t mean all fibers are good for you. Isolated, added fibers and synthetic fibers can cause bloating, reduced energy, constipation, and more. Plus, they’re part of junk food trying to look healthy and fooling you into thinking it is something healthy.

Simple sugars, candy, junk food, and many processed foods are not good for you. Even bread and pasta are packed with carbohydrates that are not good for you – and they don’t have a lot of fiber.

And the reason they’re not good for you is they don’t provide other healthy nutrients you need – they lack vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients to keep you healthy.

What are the Names of Sugars?

Those labels are over-complicated and hard to read. The names of sugars are just as complicated and confusing. Not only is pure sugar listed, but you have hundreds of other names to confuse you. 

Below we’ll list the specific names to look for. But, for now, here’s what to look for to see if your food has added sugar:

  1. The ingredient ends in -ose
  2. The ingredient has “syrup” in the name
  3. It’s an “old world” name – molasses, treacle, agave, etc 

Keep that in mind and you’ll avoid most sugar, Fortunately, you don’t have to do much counting or examining if you eat a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. It contains the natural fibers you need, low sugars, and lots of nutrients.

Here’s the list of sugars currently in use. We probably missed some, and they introduce new ones all the time.

  • Agave nectar
  • Barbados sugar
  • Barley malt
  • Barley malt syrup
  • Beet sugar
  • Brown sugar
  • Buttered syrup
  • Cane juice
  • Cane juice crystals
  • Cane sugar
  • Caramel
  • Carob syrup
  • Castor sugar
  • Coconut palm sugar
  • Coconut sugar
  • Confectioner’s sugar
  • Corn sweetener
  • Corn syrup
  • Corn syrup solids
  • Date sugar
  • Dehydrated cane juice
  • Maltol
  • Maltose
  • Mannose
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Muscovado
  • Palm sugar
  • Panocha
  • Powdered sugar
  • Raw sugar
  • Refiner’s syrup
  • Rice syrup
  • Saccharose
  • Sorghum syrup
  • Sucrose
  • Sugar (granulated)
  • Sweet sorghum
  • Syrup
  • Treacle
  • Turbinado sugar
  • Yellow sugar
  • Demerara sugar
  • Dextrin
  • Dextrose
  • Evaporated cane juice
  • Free-flowing brown sugars
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Glucose
  • Glucose solids
  • Golden sugar
  • Golden syrup
  • Grape sugar
  • HFCS (high-fructose corn syrup)
  • Honey
  • Icing sugar
  • Invert sugar
  • Malt syrup
  • Maltodextrin