Nike vs Reebok, Microsoft vs. Apple, cardio vs. weights – just some of the great rivalries of our time.

However, it seems that perhaps a larger war, which has been brewing for many years, is finally coming to a head…

Australia vs. sugar.

It was recently announced that a number of nutrition experts from more than 50 organisations, together with state and federal bureaucrats, have crafted a plan which, if actioned, would mean a sugar drink tax introduced in a bid to tackle the nation’s obesity “epidemic.”

But could such an initiative really have a profound effect on the heath of Australian people?

Dan Lowry considers cheesecake... and sugar

Gathering my thoughts on the topic of sugar and taxes

GTT Performance Centre co-owner and health expert Daniel Lowry says although he isn’t well versed on the economic implications of a sugar tax he can unequivocally support the notion that something has to be done about the amount of sugar most Australians consume.

“What I do know is, generally speaking, refined sugar in the absence of fibre and protein has a very negative affect on health,” he said.

“If you’re regularly consuming soft drinks or even fruit juices, in simple terms, you’re just mainlining sugar into your system.

“When you do that there is a big spike of insulin and if you continue to do this, overtime you will not only put body fat on, but you will also change the way your body processes sugar.

“And as this snowballing effect continues, as you get fatter, you get less and less effective at using sugar  effectively.”

Dan Lowry considers cheesecake... and sugar

Not at all part of a balanced diet,
this stuff has no place in a healthy lifestyle

GTT member and resident economist James Mackintosh says the overconsumption of sugar has become a major issue in society.

“Monetising the impact of sugar as opposed to the product (e.g. Coca Cola) at a dollar-per-gram level and implying causation over other factors is problematic,” he said.

“I would favor a manufactured good tax on products containing sugar over a certain level, rather than a commodity-based tax.

“Then you can link the product to the tax, as opposed to the commodity, as is the case with cigarettes and alcohol.”

Daniel says, in his opinion, a tax will not necessarily reduce the amount of sugar people consume.

“I’m not convinced a sugar tax is going to change the deep-rooted emotional dependency many people have on sugar,” he said.

“Like many foods that might not be nutritionally beneficial to us, there is a cultural paradigm where, like alcohol, we use/abuse sugar in different social situations.

“Most of the time we don’t use sugar to our advantage, even though we might think we are, by consuming it to make us feel better or conversely to celebrate.”

However, Daniel says sugar, and even refined sugar, is not inherently evil.
“It’s remiss of me to say that sugar is the single cause of the massive health issues facing Australians and that “quitting sugar” or taxing sugar is the absolute answer,” he said.

“The amount of sugar we consume is context specific, so it’s really ignorant when “experts” like Sarah Wilson say that everyone should only consume around 20 grams of sugar per day.”

Dan Lowry considers cheesecake... and sugar

Only really necessary if you’re completing an act of extreme
endurance in extreme heat

Daniel says sugar can actually be used as a really helpful tool for athletes.

“For example, body builders often consume shakes full of sugar (but also protein) after a workout, but because of the type of exercise they have just done, their muscles are sensitive and the sugar can help them absorb the protein more effectively,” he said.

“Similarly with ultra endurance competitors, sometimes they need that injection of sugar and spike of insulin and so that’s where Gatorade and lollies can have their place.“

“However, most people can reap the benefits of sugar in small amounts coupled with protein, healthy fats and fibre or derived from wholefood forms such as fruit (in moderation).

“In the end, the “sugar debate” really highlights how confusing nutrition can be to many people.”

There are no absolutes when it comes to this stuff. The way a compound (like sugar) affects one person, will totally differ with another person and how they metabolise it. At the end of the day it’s about understanding and following principles. Things like minimising the amount of processed foods that we eat and looking to get as many of your calories as possible from real food.

The little differences can then be implemented and monitored by working with an expert.

“That’s why GTT offers a Food Coaching Program to help its clients achieve their health goals and become an expert in their own personal nutrition.”

If you would like to learn more about GTT’s Food Coaching Program and other services please email info@gtt.com.au or phone 0488 003 089.

Dan Lowry

About the Author

Daniel Lowry

Daniel is a Strength & Conditioning expert and the Co-Founder of the gym concept GTT. He has been in the industry for 13 years, training a broad range of people from Army Special Forces to general populations. He has also worked with professional athletes, specifically in mixed Martial Arts. Daniel has worked with and learnt from the best of the best in the industry, names like Mark Buckley, Charles Poliquin, Dan Baker Phd, Gavin Heward and many more. Daniel considers himself a product of the great mentors he has learnt from.

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