Overweight and obesity are the leading public health problems in Europe, and we don’t lag behind the European average. When talking about the problem of obesity, the role of certain carbohydrates, like sugar, is very often a topic of controversial debate. The truth is actually very simple.

How much sugar should you eat per day?

Recent studies suggest that the consumption of carbohydrates in the food or drink is associated with better mental effects and better memory, faster reaction to stimuli and better concentration. Meals or snacks rich in carbohydrates and sugar-containing beverages might have beneficial effects on cognitive abilities and contribute to the reduction of fatigue. Studies of the factors that affect driving on long car ride, and were conducted in a simulator, they have noticed less mistakes in driving at drivers before and during the drive that have consumed sugary drinks than drivers who have consumed water.

But how the daily sugar intake affects our line? Facts are again very simple. Gaining body weight occurs when the energy intake from foods and beverages are greater than the energy that is combusted through metabolism or different activities. Because of this reasons it’s difficult to establish a link between obesity and the consumption of certain foods, nutrients or ingredients. Which means that if we enter too many calories, regardless of their source, it can lead to weight gain if they’re not expended through various activities. This applies to all types of foods and beverages: if the energy intake is higher than the energy needs and spends through bodily activity, there will be a gain weight.

In other words, no singly type of food or ingredient, including sugar, will not affect the growth of body mass if it is consumed as a part of balanced and varied diet, and if the total energy intake is greater than the needs of the organism.

A significant number of epidemiological studies on adults, adolescents and children continually show an inverse relationship between the recommended daily sugar intake and increased body weight. That is, people who consume a higher percentage of its total energy needs in form of sugar are generally less obese than people who have fewer calories from sugar. People who eat more sugar in their diet, tend to have a lower fat intake. However, some individuals may exceed their energy needs caused by excessive consumption of sugar or fat. System for the regulation of appetite recognizes carbohydrates, including sugars, and they contribute to feel full.

There is also an established belief that adding sugar into your diet will displace other foods from the diet and lead to a reduced intake of vitamins and minerals. However, research has shown that the sugar can be part of a proper and balanced diet and there is no evidence that the presence of sugar in the diet displaces vitamins and minerals from food. According to the results of the research in children, even the diet with the highest intake of sugar contained sufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals.

At least half of the energy intake in our diet should come from carbohydrates, mostly from starch.

There are two main types of carbohydrates: sugars and starches. Sugars and starches have the same energetic value per gram (4kcal). Carbohydrates provide less energy than fat (9kcal per gram) or alcohol (7kcal per gram). The fibers are also types of hydrocarbons, but unlike the other carbohydrates, fiber is not absorbed in the small intestine and usually don’t provide energy for the body. Starch is found in grains such as rice, corn, wheat, potatoes, green beans and products derived from starch such as bread and pasta. Under sugars we mean sucrose of the common name sugar, glucose, fructose, lactose and maltose. They are naturally present in foods such as fruits, vegetables and dairy products.

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