Optimum health: No need to add sugar

Fitness expert Richelle Melde

Fitness expert Richelle Melde
(Photo courtesy of Hollye Schumacher Photography)


To fully understand how carbs affect us, we must first understand what carbs are.

Carbohydrates are chains of sugar molecules.

There are simple carbs (monosaccharide or disaccharide) and complex carbs (polysaccharide). Think of a polysaccharide as a stack of poker chips. A monosaccharide is a single poker chip. Therefore, a complex carb is a chain of several simple carbs.

sugar graphic

The point here is to recognize that all carbs, whether from a real or processed source of food, break down into a sugar molecule, therefore ALL CARBS ARE SUGAR!

Insulin is a hormone responsible for storing energy, fat and nutrients.

Glucagon is a hormone for mobilizing sugar (energy), fat and nutrients. Excess sugar is stored in the liver, and when necessary, glucagon tells the liver to release that sugar for energy needs.

The most important point about understand these two hormones is creating balance with them. When blood sugar is low, glucagon will be mobilized to release more sugar to increase the sugar in your blood for energy, just as when blood sugars are too high, insulin will be mobilized to reduce the blood sugar by storing the excess sugar.

What effects will the food you eat have on your hormones? Will you store the food as fat or will it help to build muscle or will it be immediately used as energy? If you eat high sugar foods, you will increase your insulin levels and thus create more fat storage. If, on the other hand, you eat proteins that will mobilize glucagon to release stored sugar and fat. Consuming fat (such as avocado, coconut oil, grass-fed butter) does not create a response for either hormone.

This does not mean that you should simply go on a high protein diet (that can actually be very harmful to your kidneys), instead it gives you an opportunity to recognize how to balance your meals to optimize your hormone function and create balance in your blood sugar levels.

The most effective way to combat a high insulin response is to eat carbs and sugars, such as fruit, with protein or fat. You will minimize the fat storing insulin effect by increasing your glycogen response. Eating a balanced meal will create a balanced insulin-glucagon response, which is our goal.


  1. Eat 25 grams or less of sugar each day.
  2. When eating food that has a lot of sugar or a carb (there is a distinction between sugars and carbs on food labels), eat with protein or fat.
  3. Drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water every day. This will help with digestion and energy.
  4. Eat high quality foods — organic, grass-fed beef, grass-fed butter, pastured proteins, free-ranch eggs and chicken, etc. This will minimize the toxic load you put on your body with the food that you eat.
  5. Keep a food journal and calculate sugars.

See the article Fats Don’t Make You Fat to learn more about sugar.

Richelle Melde is the Fitness Expert for News Channel 12 EVB Live show (Phoenix, Ariz.) and has been seen on Fox, CBS, NBC and ABC, as well as in the AZ Republic and Business Journal. She has a B.S. in Psychology, Sociology and Women’s Studies and is a CHEK Practitioner and Holistic Life Coach.

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