Is the Sugar in Orange Juice Healthy?

Is Sugar in Orange Juice Healthy?

Is orange juice healthy? Today I shared a post on my Instagram account a post from Amber Wentworth @lonestarketogirl. It was a reminder to me that, and anyone else reading it, that all carbohydrates are sugar.

Which is worse? Is the sugar in a glass of orange juice better than a can of soda?

The post didn’t seem like a big deal to me. Most people in the keto space know that all carbs are some form of sugar, it isn’t news. A friend of mine messaged me that my comments were hurtful and thought I was shaming her. She felt like I was insulting her parenting because she gives her son orange juice. This was never my intent. I wanted to point out that all carbohydrates are sugar no matter what form it takes.

Are Some Sugars Better Than Others?

There is an orange tree in my back yard that we planted twenty years ago when we moved it. It produced a plethora of beautiful Valencia oranges every year. The smell is wonderful and fruit are very sweet. The tree grows and produces fruit without much effort on our part. We water the tree and let it grow.
It would seem that something grown in nature, made from sunshine, soil, and water has to be wholesome and good. A cup of oranges picked from my tree would contain 26 grams of carbohydrates. This would be in the form of glucose and fructose.
Now let’s take something that many people would say is a bottled soda is unhealthy. The main ingredient aside from water is high-fructose corn syrup. Most dietitians, nutritionist, and everyday would agree, sodas are not a healthy drink. Now take that soda and pour it into a cup. It would contain 26 grams of carbohydrates in the form of glucose and fructose.
If you look at a cup of orange juice and a cup of soda, you might find that are very similar. Both contain 26 grams of carbohydrates in the form of glucose and fructose. My intent in sharing a post on instagram and this blog post is to inform fellow athletes. No matter what form carbohydrates come in, it is a form of sugar. Virta Health has a list of the 56 names for sugar.

How Our Bodies Respond to Sugar

How our bodies respond to sugar is a different story. My husband and I both wear a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM). Neither of us drink orange juice or soda, even if we have an orange tree in the back yard. But we both have like Starbuck (unfortunately $$). He usually gets a Salted Carmel Cold Brew,16 ounces contains 23 grams of carbohydrates. 
My husband responds to the cold brew in three ways:
  1. 1. Enjoys a tasty drink
  2. 2. Has a pick up of energy
  3. 3. Gets along with the rest of the day
I respond to the cold brew in three ways: 
  1. 1. Think the drink is too sweet
  2. 2. Feel ill as my blood sugar sharply rises
  3. 3. Go on a blood sugar roller coaster that gives me brain fog, I can’t think, my day is ruined.

If you looked a a graph following our cold brews you would see rolling hills for his blood sugar response to the Salted Cold Brew, you would see steep mountains and valleys on mine.


Appreciate Your Individuality

As you can see, my husband and I respond differently to 26 grams of carbohydrates. You don’t need a CGM to figure out what is going on. The key is to pay attention to how you feel after you consume any form of sugar. 
He can eat spaghetti for dinner, have gels with training and racing, and feel fine. I didn’t need a CGM to know I had a problem with carbohydrate. After every high carbohydrate meal (at the time, every meal) I had reactive hypoglycemia. It wasn’t a mystery to me that I had a problem with gels when racing, after every race my mouth would break out in sores. It took a week or more to recover.


Some scientist think the solution is “train their gut” to absorb more sugar. Others realize it is important to appreciate our individuality. Therefor, it doesn’t matter what an “expert” says out there, if it doesn’t work for you, it isn’t right for you.
If you are fortunate to have found the perfect combination of fuel for you. Then realize that your magic combination might not work for anyone. The key to being fit, fast, and healthy, is to find the right combination of fuels that works for you. That may include sugar, or it may not.

Do you need help?

If your body doesn’t react to sugar well, don’t despair. Many athletes, including myself have trained and race with no, or very little sugar. It is possible. End the confusion about how to fuel and figure out what is right for you. Let me help you figure out how match your training to your nutrition.
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Coach Stephanie

Hi, My name is Coach Stephanie Holbrook. I learned how to regain my health and turn back the clock. I now help endurance athletes show you everything you need to maximize health, performance and a younger feeling body.

Reader Interactions


  1. Mark says

    Heya nice one! I eat carnivore. No carbs and train heavy in my gym. No sugar No problems! Sugar carbs and fruit n veg = bad for me!

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