Sexy Sounding Sugar | Different Types of Sugar (With Explanations)

What is sugar Exactly?

The first thing anyone needs to know about when learning about the effects of sugar is to understand just what sugar is – i.e., what the different types of sugar are. “Sugar” usually refers to white sugar, which is a process sugar from sugar cane or sugar beets. All sugars are carbohydrates, so you might sometimes here sugar referred to as a “simple carbohydrate”.

The technical name for common sugar is sucrose, which is actually two “simple sugars” (monosaccharides) stuck together (fructose and glucose). For a great overview of fructose vs. glucose vs. sucrose, see this article. The long and short of it is this:

  •         Fructose makes things very sweet
  •         Glucose makes things sweet, provides energy, and makes your blood sugar level change

Any more, you will rarely see “sugar” listed on nutritional labels (like it’s some bad word). Instead, you see sugar cleverly disguised as more benign sounding terms listed below. Read this list carefully!


This list details the various types of sugar. For example there are multiple types of sugar “malts” and “syrups,” but we lump them together as they amount to the same thing. For a full list of each type of sugar (without explanations), see this list of 56 names for sugar.

The important thing to understand is that all of these items amount to the same exact thing in your body, sugar:

Sucrose Technical name for sugar, which is 50% glucose and 50% fructose
Fructose Found naturally in fruits/vegetables, does not cause insulin to be released, is NOT body/brain’s preferred energy source, and behaves more like fat in the body (metabolized by liver)
Glucose Also called blood sugar, as it is the simple sugar that circulates in the blood (causes insulin to be released) and is the brain and body’s preferred energy source
Anything “Sugar” Any ingredient that says sugar (cane sugar, invert sugar, raw sugar etc.) is simply sugar that has been processed in a specific way (and not a healthier way)
Evaporated cane juice This sugar is simply a purified form of cane sugar (i.e., what crack is to cocaine, evaporated cane juice to sugar-cane)
Corn syrup 100% glucose (chain of glucose, sometimes called “higher sugar”) in syrup form
High fructose corn syrup Corn syrup that is either 42% or 55% fructose, as fructose is sweeter than glucose. High fructose is the motherload of mutant-sugar, as it is highly processed and modified
Fruit juice Even “not from concentrate” should be avoided, as all you are basically looking at is sugar water (i.e., none of the fruit’s fiber or vitamins)
Fruit juice concentrate Like “fruit juice”, but missing water, so just fruit sugar
Brown rice syrup 100% glucose just like corn syrup, but derived from rice starch instead of corn starch – you might call it “rice sugar in syrup form”
Dextrose Another name for glucose, as it’s chemically identical to glucose
Maltodextrin A genetic mutant made from starch, that consists of long polysaccharides – i.e, it’s a complex set of glucose chains of varying length
Agave syrup A syrup made from the agave plant, that is 70%-90% fructose
Treacle Same as molasses
Molasses Syrup (50% glucose / 50% fructose), that remains after sugar is refined but has the nutrients that are extracted during table sugar production (iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper, zinc, and phosphorus) – maybe the “healthiest” of all sugars?
Sorbitol, xylitol, and other “-tols” Another set of chemical mutants, in which a hydrogen atom is added to glucose – this allows companies to list 0 carbs/sugar on labels
Anything “Syrup” Anything that includes “syrup” is another way of saying liquid sugar
Anything “Malt” Anything that includes “malt” is another way of saying liquid sugar

Now, beyond being literate in reading food labels, here’s why knowing these names is important:

Food manufacturers will often list multiple types of sugars low on the list of ingredients, leading you to believe that there is not much sugar, but when you add it all up sugar accounts for the number 1 ingredient.

It sort of reminds me of buying a car, but by the time the whole process is over you end up paying 50% more than the listed price (after insurance, taxes, etc.).

On a positive note, the United States will add a label for “added sugar” to all nutrition labels in 2018.

Click the picture below to see the next article in the series:

Are you a sugar shack? The Hemoglobin A1C test will help you measure your blood sugar level over the course of several months. High test-results indicate risk for diabetes, pre-diabetes, or active type 2 diabetes.


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