Good Sugar v/s Bad Sugar

Please help my understanding of what is Good Sugar and Bad Sugar and is there a different in how each will affect a diabetic (1, 1.5, 2)…

I get the feeling the answer to this question depends on the person and their experience.

I have been told by people there are “good sugars” that I can eat like fruit. How the fruit will affect me will depend on my Type(1, 1.5, 2) and lifestyle. I have heard this more than once even by people that have identified themselves as medical professionals.

I been told “bad sugars” are mainly “bleached foods” such as rice, flour, pasta, etc…

I have been under the assumption from the articles that I have read that sugar is sugar…period. Should take into account of the source as to whether this will impact my BS or not? Am I correct is stating that all foods that metabolize into a sugar complex will cause BS to spike? If yes, then how could one be good and one be bad if they are both doing the same thing? When the BS spikes will the diabetic type determine if I the sugar is good or bad for me?

I just want to have a clear and consice understanding so I can at least tell other people correct information and to help myself. I am really struggling with this disease.


Hi Christalyn

Glad you asked this 'cos it seems you havn’t been given great information there!! Heres the facts:

Carbohydrates (CHO) can be divided into two type - simple carbohydrates, and complex carbohydrates. Theses groupings refer to their atomic structure (so simple carbohydrates have less ‘building blocks’ and complex have more ‘building blocks’. When carbohydrate enters the body it goes through a process where it is broken down into its smallest form (this is basiclly sugar). So in terms of diabetes, and pretty much a generally healthy lifestyle we want to eat more complex CHO than simple - simply because simple CHO breaks down to sugar very quickly which increases our blood glucose. Whereas complex CHO takes a longer time to break down so bood glucose remains more stable.

So in terms of what are complex and what are simple CHO? - well complex CHO is generally your pasta, potatoes, rice etc. (startchy foods). Your simple CHO tends to be your sugary foods (sweets, biscuits, desserts, and ALSO fruit. Fruit contains alot of sugar in and often will cause an increase in blood glucose BUT they are full of needed vitamins. My advice is have your fruit over sweets and desserts but don;t have too much!! One thing to note about the complex CHO - you often can get ‘white’ pasta, bread and rice or ‘wholemeal’ - the difference between these is that the white varity have been processed which means some of the goodness has been taken out. If you have the choice always go with wholemal products!

I hope this answers your question and if you have any more feel free to ask!

To add to Paul’s detail, you still need to see how you react, the Glycemic Index will give you an idea as to what to expect, but it is still very much an individual thing. an example strawberries, peaches and cantaloupe are all similar in GI, however I can eat a quart of strawberries, a reasonable amount of cantaloupe but not even a small peach. You need to test everything to see how YOU react. This is part, in my opinion, as to why Dr can not give you a size fits all diet, diabetes is highly individualized. I categorize my carbs as Good, OK and Not My Friend

Over time, I’ve developed a counter culture view towards sugars and carbs. When I was initially diagnosed, I was always told that simple carbs were bad, complex carbs were good and fuit was good cause it contained fructose which was good for diabetics. Many of you may have come to the same realization as I have, namely that dietary advice is sometimes highly biased and totally bogus. I avoid fructose avidly. Not just avoiding all HFCS, but most high fructose fruit. I now believe that the fructose is particulary bad for my poor diabetic body, converting directly to fat and being of poor nutritional value. And I consider all fruit to contain sugars that are simple carbs. I consider classic “good” carbs to be complex carbs, whole foods, whole grains, brown rice, whole wheat etc.

Then we come to the dietary advice on simple versus complex carbs. For a classic type 2 diabetic on no meds, eating complex carbs will tend to cause a blunted glucose curve, not as high and longer. A type 2 will be better able to handle 50g of complex carbs, but might have very high blood sugars with 50g of simple carbs. Now is the same true for other diabetics? Of that I am not so clear. I have some sort of secretion problem. With my Byetta, a rice meal will trigger a healthy insulin response and I will react quit well often down to normal at two hours. A complex carb might do nothing for my insulin release, sit in my stomach for hours and lead to an elevated blood sugar for hours. For a type 1, with fast acting insulin, I have to question whether eating 50g of simple carbs with a well matched bolus might be much better than 50g of complex carbs that might hit your bloodstream long after your insulin peaked.

As everyone else is saying, it is all very individual. While very few of us could eat a simple carb like cake without a serious spike in our blood sugar there seems to be a tremendous variation in how we respond to potatoes, rice, pasta, etc. I can eat a medium serving of potatoes, bolus for it and sometimes it is just fine, but sometimes I’m through the roof. I can only eat a very small serving of pasta or pizza so it’s rarely worth it. I can’t eat rice at all.

As for whole grains vs processed food. I’ve long relied on whole grains because in general they are much healthier. Have I seen much of a difference not that I am diabetic and testing? Sadly, no. Not unless they are also high fiber in which case you can subtract the fiber and get fewer carbs. I still prefer whole grains as they are healthier (diabetes isn’t the only thing to take care of!) and they taste better to me (except for whole grain pasta which I never developed a liking for).

As for fruit. I avoid citrus fruits but otherwise do well with small servings. Bottom line? Eat and test, eat and test and see how each food or each serving of food affects your bloodsugar.

Wow!! Thank you all for the information…I understand that most of this is based on the individual. What about the terms “Good Sugars” and “Bad Sugars”. I have had people that don’t have diabetes try to explain to me how I should eat fruit because they are “Good Sugars.” The fructose would be good for me.

Basically what I am trying to understand is this… When explaining to people that may not be as knowledgable, they may only understand what is good and what is bad. Since we are affected by our food decisions we have to be more knowledgable and detailed about bodies and care.

So if the average person eats fruit their BS should spike and their body should compensate. If a person diabetic eats fruit the BS should spike but may need some aid (meds/insulin) to lower the levels. I just find that most people really don’t understand nutrition and exactly what foods are bad and what foods are good and how to balance the two. If a person is told that is something is good for them they will probably incorporate it and eat large amounts of it. What everybody is telling me here is moderation and body knowledge is the key. Most people are not going to get that detailed about their eating habits till something starts to breakdown. I ate all kinds of foods without regard till I became diabetic. I had no idea fruit could be bad for me. And I love fruit…This is when I had to find what was good and bad. Mostly everything I was eating and qualitites were horrible. This is why I try to stear people away from the “good sugar” and “bad sugar” terms to just tell people sugar is sugar and carbs are considered sugar. If they are interested in knowing more they will do the research… Am I right or wrong or need more tweeking…


It is not so simple an answer.

My approach is multi-fold, and I believe it’s based on the best science available.

Refined grains are out of my diet entirely due to both sugar and omega 6 concentrations. I won’t get into the omega theories, so google “omega ratio” if you are interested in reading more. This is also an interesting site devoted to omega research I can’t guarantee it’s not biased.

Fructose is almost totally out. I do eat a serving of whole fruit most days though. Otherwise there’s none in my diet. The reason is because it is not metabolized like glucose. In fact, nearly all of it has to be processed by the liver first. The liver converts it to VLDL wrapped tryglycerides for transport to cells. Both VLDLs and Trigs are highly correlated with CHD. In fact, many consider them the only risk factor. Watch this video please!

Thirdly, glucose is also out. The above video states it’s a safe sugar, but I follow Gary Taubes’ way of thinking. Glucose needs insulin, and insulin is THE FAT STORAGE HORMONE!

There are other negaives in this group too like salt retention, AGEs, and accelerated cancer growth. But the fat building and CHD risks are primary to me.

I find low-carbing aids very little in my BG management., but I admit I know what I’m doing with that.

Basically if it tastes good, its bad. Tastes ok or not ok its good for you. lol But if it’s starchy, bad but small amount is ok unless you don’t handle it well. I read labels and I don’t touch it if it has more than 15 carbs. Everyone is different, make a good food list and a bad food list according to you machine testing.

Thank you!!! This is what I was kinda looking for… I still people sugar is sugar no matter the source. It will always make your BS spike. People who really don’t have to worry about diabetes are not going to worry about the particulars. I get people all the time trying to get me to eat all this natural crap and it has 27 grams of sugars. Thanks!!!

Just tell them " I thank you for your concern". And change the topic. Those non-diabetics who do not have a clue about individualized treatment for your disease may be well-meaning, but they are off base. Just change the topic to something about their own life, like " Hey, didn’t I hear you have new photos of your niece/grandkids/boat?’ Such locquacious interferers will gladly forget about your diabetes and talk you in to the wall about their own concerns…

God Bless,

As has been said here test, test and test.

Don’t rely on so called experts most of whom don’t have diabetes.

Ask your body. Your blood glucose meter is your direct line to your body.

Once you’re thorough testing all the foods you normally eat then you will be able to eat with confidence whilst also testing frequently just in case the needs of your body changes.


Thank you for the reply!! I get quite skeptical with people telling me how and what to do about diabetes and they don’t have it or never had exposure… What really makes me mad is when so called medical professionals who rely on 1950 research still tell people information that is completed outdated or has been “revised.” I had this Diabetic Educator tell me there is no correlation between working the night shift and Diabetes…I kindly told her she is dead wrong and she should go online and “google” the subject… In my own research, I found a plethora of information about this subject. Not to mention I found other DE’s that believe the same.

When I was the Diabetic Walk here in Los Angeles, I met a woman that was sharing some information with me. When I started to question her more indepth about what she was saying…(I was not agreeing with her)…she proudly annouces that she was a DOCTOR. I told her SO WHAT!!! I have several degrees under my belt too and I can read the latest information and disiminate it correctly. Flaunting of titles does not impress me.

Mainly this is the reason why I started this discussion because alot of people only rely on the terms “good sugar” and “bad sugar.” As inaccurate as it may be…this may be the only way people can understand how the BS works.

Thanks Again.