Carbs in general have earned themselves a bad name, but for the most part, sugar is always looked at as a no-no. When people think of sugar, they think to themselves of a fat-promoting, highly refined sweetener that is the bane of many dieters existence. But is sugar really all that bad, and is it ever ok to eat it?
My answer would be yes and no. I canít deny it, Iíve got a sweet tooth. I love ice cream, candy bars and homemade cookies, but I know that when I want to get into my best shape, these foods are not on the menu. Do I deprive myself of these sweets when Iím not trying to be in my best shape? No. If youíre following a diet to get in shape, you should not be eating these foods either, except as a small reward for your hard work, once or twice a week.
What about using sugar post-workout to help restore glycogen levels? There has been a lot of speculation about this approach, and I used to be totally against sugar post-workout. As I get older and wiser, I try different approaches to workout recovery. Recently, I have begun drinking a simple/complex carbohydrate drink blend during the last 20 minutes of my workout. The idea is that the simple carbs get to the muscles faster, allowing me to train a little harder and a little longer, with the complex carbs later restoring my glycogen levels when my training is completely over. This method has brought me good results.
People often speculate about fruit while dieting, stating that it is sugar and will slow results or lead to fat gain. My philosophy on fruit is; when was the last time you ever heard of anyone getting fat from eating too much fruit? Fruit is Godís candy, and it provides a natural, lasting energy, instead of the quick fix of refined sugars that will leave you feeling crashed later on. Fruit also contains fiber to help you feel fuller, which is especially important while dieting. During my last bodybuilding contest in 2006, I ate fruit all the way up until the day of my show, and I came in in my best conditioning ever.
So while there is no definitive answer on sugar, you need to use some common sense to decipher whether or not you can get away with eating it. Cookies and candy are not on the menu for getting in shape, fruit is ok any time.