Simple Sugar or Bad carbohydrates
Sugar is a carbohydrate, one of the three types
of nutrients our bodies require during pregnancy.
Sugar is also the number one additive in the food
industry containing zero nutritional value but
plenty of calories. One gram of sugar has 4 calories!
Since sugar can be highly addictive during pregnancy,
it pays to be vigilant.
While pregnant you may be careful about sugar-laden
foods but what about foods off the shelf? Sugar
has found its way into almost every food. Foods
that are frozen, canned, processed or cured are
likely to be high in sugar. It is even hidden
in non-food items like vitamins and OTC drugs.
Read the labels whenever you can.
Sugar is seemingly everywhere and can be found
under the following names so look out for these
the next time you go food shopping: white sugar,
brown sugar, cane sugar, corn sugar, date sugar,
galactose, glucose, fructose, lactose, maltose,
dextrose, sucrose, mannitol and sorbitol. Honey,
molasses and maple syrup are the other sugar-rich
• Commercial white sugar found in cakes, jellies,
candies etc causes the blood sugar level to shoot
up and is often referred to as bad carbohydrates.
It is a refined food i.e. it contains no vitamins,
minerals or enzymes. It becomes difficult for our
bodies to metabolize sugar in the absence of such
nutrients. Our bodies are then compelled to release
stored vitamins and minerals to help convert sugar
into energy. This causes depletion in the supply
of stored nutrients which our body requires for
• All refined sugars are nutrient-poor, simple
carbohydrates. When raw sugar is refined, the two
end products that result are white crystals (or
sugar) and the syrup known as molasses. Simple sugars
are the least nutritional; simple because the molecules
are so small that they pass through into the bloodstream
• When you eat simple carbs, you experience
a sudden surge in energy due to the glucose flood
in your bloodstream. That's because simple sugar
like candy can be broken down and absorbed quickly.
Your brain signals the pancreas to produce insulin
and the excess sugar is converted into glycogen
and fat. This action causes the sudden fall in blood
sugar which leaves you feeling drained. So first
you feel energized and within a short time you feel
even more exhausted than you did before.
Complex Sugars or Good
• Complex carbs or starches are regarded as
good carbohydrates because of the vitamins and minerals
they contain; they are the best source of fuel or
glucose your body can rely on. They do not deplete
your body's store of vitamins and minerals.
• The best sugars are complex sugars (its
complexity owing to the molecules being larger).
Also referred to as complex carbs, the foods rich
in this include pasta, potatoes, grains and seeds.
• A complex carb like a potato which is densely
packed will take a long time to break down and is
absorbed slowly. Because complex carbs are nutrient-rich
they must go through the slow digestion process.
The glucose converted is released into your body
at a slower, steadier pace. Your muscles and brain
receive adequate amount of glucose without you experiencing
the high-low feeling associated with the sudden
rise and fall in blood sugar.
• To go totally sugar-free is not really possible
for most pregnant women so the best bet during pregnancy
is to opt for natural sweeteners. Grab a fruit and
forgo the chocolate bar when a sugar craving hits
you. Use honey in your cereal instead of sugar.
In short choose natural sweeteners over refined
sugar wherever possible.
• Many natural sweeteners are simple carbohydrates.
For example honey has two simple carbs, glucose
and fructose. Healthier sugars are the fructose
sugars with fruits being the chief source. You also
have lactose sugar which is derived from dairy products.
Both fructose and lactose provide the pregnant woman
with quick energy and do not cause mood swings that
simple sugars do. However sweeteners like honey
and maple syrup should not be taken in excess as
they can cause health problems and weight gain.
How Sugar works in your
Carbohydrates, whether simple or complex, are sugars.
When you eat foods that are carb-rich, these foods
are converted into glucose. A portion is required
to keep your brain alert, another portion is to
fuel your muscles with energy and the excess is
converted into either glycogen or body fat. Insulin
is produced to restore the delicate balance of many
elements, including your blood sugar level. Glycogen
is stored in your muscles for later use. If it is
not utilized it's turned into glycerin and subsequently
into stored fat which you find around your body.
For sure, you wouldn't want more fat on you during
your pregnant months!
The Brown Sugar myth
Brown sugar is not a healthier alternative to white
sugar. Brown sugar is simply refined white sugar
with molasses stirred in for color. Demerara for
example is white sugar mixed with some amount of
molasses. Bare traces of minerals, calcium, iron
and potassium may be present. So categorically brown
sugar is a bad carbohydrate.