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September 13, 2009

But Which Sugar is Best for Fat Loss

Can you Lose Belly Fat if you Eat THIS?


There are over 30 names for sugar…

…turbinado sugar, raw sugar, agave syrup, fruit paste, raw honey, malt syrup and many more.


I always get asked what’s the best type of sugar?

Is there such a thing?  A “healthy” sugar?

Remember, sugar is readily used for “immediate short term energy” which means that if you are trying to burn fat for energy then eating any kind of sugar will “delay” the fat burning process.

Sugars also release a hormone called “insulin”. Insulin is a lipogenic hormone which means that it encourages body fat storage. That’s why people with type 2 diabetes are overweight. There body releases too much insulin due to their cells insensitivity to insulin. The only way to increase one’s insulin sensitivity is by losing weight and exercising.


Clearly, when burning belly fat is a goal, sugar (all forms) need to take a back seat.  But let’s put a few of these under the microscope to see if there’s a best of the worst.

After all, with teens eating nearly 100 lbs of sugar per person, per year, we have some headway to make.  It should be no surprise that research shows belly fat has skyrocketed in this age group.


But adults aren’t much behind.  And the obesity epidemic we’re facing around the world is a tell tale sign that we’re overfed, yet undernourished.

Let’s get to the good stuff.

First, just because something is organic, doesn’t mean it’s healthy.


Organic sugar isn’t a magical health food like it’s often considered.

It increases belly fat just like plain old table sugar.

Let’s cover a few of the most commonly questioned poisons in the fight against belly fat.

High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)


This one was invented in the 1970’s.  It’s in nearly every food and beverage in the super market – from breads to ketchup, fruit juice to cereals.  Some have claimed it’s caused obesity saying, this one sweetener is preventing us from losing belly fat permanently.  Interestingly, its use has skyrocketed the same way the obesity epidemic has over the last few decades.  And research has suggested there is a correlation.


This caused a negative spiral of media ads pointing the finger at this one ingredient.

And the Corn Refiners Association fought back.  They created commercials saying that HFCS is no worse than sugar.  What they didn’t say is both are junk, why eat them at all?


My first “problem’ with HFCS is that it was “invented.”  I don’t want to eat anything that was “invented.” I want to eat foods as close to the ground as possible.  You can avoid HFCS, just like you can avoid other sugars.  Sure, it is metabolized a bit differently than sugar, but you know what, the foods that are loaded with HFCS are junk – regardless of the form of sugar.  Soda = junk.  Fruit juice cocktails = junk. Popsicles = junk.


If you buy organic options of these same foods, they’re all junk and will prevent you from losing belly fat, put a halt to losing fat from your hips and thighs, or getting into your skinny jeans.

Agave Syrup

This natural sweetener recently became popular.  Agave nectar is produced from a plant and is popular in organic markets and with vegans.  It is touted for its low glycemic index, meaning it won’t cause much of a spike in blood sugar.  But no studies are available showing how it compares to other sugars in terms of blood sugar control.

It is primarily made up of fructose, which is in fact lower on the glycemic index.  One important note – if you try this, look for USDA-certified organic products. Most agave comes from Mexico and there have been issues with recalls because of excessive pesticides in the products.


Raw Honey

Often sold at Farmer’s Markets, supporters of this sweetener love that it’s not processed.  Me too.  And because it’s not processed, it IS higher in a few nutrients (mainly B vitamins).  With that said, honey wouldn’t be my first choice for getting in any vitamins and minerals. I DO like that you can use less of it than table sugar because teaspoon for teaspoon, it’s sweeter.

There’s also some very interesting data showing eating local honey may reduce allergies, it can be used as an antiseptic, and much more.  (NOTE: I don’t recommend pouring it on an open wound).


But in the end, will too much honey prevent you from getting the body of your dreams and slashing belly fat?  Sure, it’s still empty calories when you compare it side by side with fruit, for example (which also is high in a form of sugar, but nothing I’d worry about).

Where does that leave us?


All sugars have relatively the same number of calories per gram.

Organic sugars will still prevent you from losing belly fat.


Non organic sugars will prevent you from losing belly fat.


If you are going to use a sweetener, opt for local honey and use it sparingly.  Still, the best way to eat foods is in their natural state – fruit is sweet, enjoy that as dessert.  Grill it to bring out the sweetness.  Add balsamic vinegar to a pan and heat it up to create a calorie free “syrup” that’s great with fruit.


Avoid foods with ingredients that have been “invented” – the closer to the ground they are, the better off you will be.

In the end, burn belly fat by limiting your sugar intake and training right.

Dr. Saman Bakhtiar Phillips Ranch personal trainer and Gym owner always taking a personal interest in each client!

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September 13, 2009

Lori Cunningham @ 9:12 pm

Hi Sam!

Great article! I liked all the pictures, too. I have a couple of questions for you:

1. Processed honey – it is still OK to use? How much of the nutrients are processed out of it?

2. What do you think about Stevia powder? Is it any better, nutrient wise or otherwise than Agave syrup?


September 14, 2009

Dr. Saman @ 9:59 am

Thank you Lori. Here is the answer to your questions.

After the beekeeper collects the honey it’s processed immediately after harvesting because it crystallizes when it’s allowed to sit. It has to be heated up between 150-170 degrees because it carries the bacterium
that causes botulism, which can be dangerous since this is the very bacterium that causes food poisoning. Honey is actually sweeter than table sugar, but the problem with table sugar is that it’s bleached white since actual unprocessed raw sugar is brown. Honey is pasteurized to kill off the bacteria like botulism to make it safe to eat and to put in food.
So yes processed honey is fine because it has to be processed to be safe.

Agave Syrup:
A sweetener made from the juice of a Mexican cactus is an increasingly common ingredient in bottled teas, energy drinks, nutrition bars and desserts from health food stores.
People are disgusted with aspartame and Splenda, and they’re looking for an alternative to high-fructose corn syrup. But consumers’ high hopes for agave may be somewhat misguided. People say it’s a healthful alternative, but it’s not really. A sugar is a sugar is a sugar.

Stevia Powder:

Stevia Powder is almost calorie-free, so weight watchers love it. It is ideal for children since it prevents cavities. Unlike sugar, it does not trigger a rise in blood sugar. You won’t get a sudden burst of energy followed by fatigue and a need for another “fix.” Most imporantly for our purposes it doesn’t illicit an insulin response which we all know insulin is a lipogenic hormone, and it increases energy and aids digestion by stimulating the pancreas.
There you have it.

Sylvia Seats @ 9:47 am

Thank you Sam! This is very useful and helpful to me.

Cheryl @ 10:48 am

This is a great article Sam! I eliminated sugars from my diet about 12 years ago (although with a RARE treat here & there – like a bite of my wedding cake – ha!). I did it after hearing not only the facts you stated, but also that sugar is considered a “non-nutrient”, and actually robs our tissues of healthy nutrients – terrible, right? I use Stevia now, and don’t miss the highs and lows of sugar at all. Thanks Sam, these facts are SO important. Please keep sharing 🙂

Tamara Cazenave @ 4:56 pm

I understand the info about “being closer to the ground being better for your body” but artificial sweetners like Sweet N Low or Equal are said to better than raw sugar when you are dieting. What is the real scoop on those types of sweetners? I drink a lot of iced tea; from the information I have learned from your article, am I understanding you that you should use honey rather than anything else? Please advice on the best sweetner that you would recommend for iced tea.

September 15, 2009

Dr. Saman @ 5:58 am

Yes, from a pure dieting and weight loss point of view artificial sweetners are better because they don’t contain sugar therefore they don’t illicit a insulin response. However from the health point of view they are questionable. I drink my iced teas with lemon. If you are drinking a lot of iced teas then sweetners toxicity becomes a concern.

September 14, 2009

marisol @ 5:43 pm

Sam how are you…? hope you and your family are doing good…. i just have a quick question how about splenda is that good or bad?

September 15, 2009

Dr. Saman @ 5:59 am

Thank you for asking. I just wrote a blog post that I will release next week. It’s titled Sugar vs Artificial sweetners. I will discuss Splenda in detail.

paul knopf @ 6:17 am

Awesome article. i love the tip on heating balsamic vinegar. Thank you.

arlene de guzman @ 5:56 pm

So stevia powder and honey are the safest and best options? Thank you for the useful info!

Dr. Saman @ 6:41 pm

You are absolutely right.

freddie hindi @ 10:06 pm


September 16, 2009

Dr. Saman @ 1:45 pm

Hi Freddie,
The correct way to lose weight is 1-2lb/week. This way not only you will lose the weight but you will keep it off.
You need the following to lose weight:
1) Proper nutrition (I will teach you the correct way of eating)
2) Exercise (our certified trainers will show you how to exercise for maximum results)
3) accountability (We will weigh, measure and take your body composition every week)
4) Motivation ( We will motivate you every step of the way)

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