Pour some sugar on me!
Perhaps Def Leppard was on to something, because that’s pretty much all sugar is good for! That’s right, I said it. Sugar is no bueno. Want to know an interesting fact? Today, individually, we eat over 140 pounds of sugar per year! Want to know how much sugar our ancestors ate per year 10,000 years ago? 22 teaspoons. It’s not a needed nutrient.
Now, this is a lot of sugar. A lot of sugar we don’t need, like 139.9 pounds too much annually! Want to know some of the ways sugar will impact you? It puts your blood sugar on a roller coaster. Spiking and crashing all day long. It will disrupt your insulin metabolism. Raise stress hormones (which will raise the threshold that your fat burns!) It will feed yeast, which is a whole other common problem (yeast overgrowth). It will feed bad bacteria and disrupt your gut flora creating gas and bloating. It will weaken your immune system. It will create cravings. And it will deplete your body of nutrients. This, combined with Leaky Gut Syndrome will set you up for all kinds of issues.
But there is one thing sugar makes your body really good at! Want to know? It makes your body really good at storing fat. That’s right, not only does it increase the threshold at which you burn fat, but stores fat. Sugar causes a vicious cycle by making it harder to burn fat combined with storing fat, along with continuing to consume sugar sets you up for weight loss resistance, and setting you up to sabotage your weight loss goals!
This also prompts me to bring up something I mentioned earlier about gluten. I have seen clients find great tasting gluten free sweets and items and overindulge, mistaking it for a health food. You’re still consuming large amounts of sugar. The sugar content will still be the same as a normal doughnut.
Because of copyright issues, my publisher won’t let me go into detail, calling out a company or product by name, but Michael Moss, author of Salt, Sugar, Fat did, so I encourage you to read his book which outlines how large corporations, and products you probably use on a daily basis is setting you up for failure, and getting you addicted to sugar. It’s very informative and leaves you going “whoa!” after you’ve finished.
But what about healthy sugars?
Healthy sugars? Think about how that sounds. Healthy. Sugar. Healthy sugar. No, there is no such thing as a healthy sugar. Many clients have argued that agave and honey are natural, but agave is higher in fructose than high-fructose corn syrup! Honey however, is a little bit different but not much! Honey has many health benefits associated with it, especially for people who have seasonal allergies. This honey, however, needs to be organic, locally grown (within a 50-mile radius of your home for largest impact) and raw. So no fillers. No extra sweeteners. Just good old fashioned locally grown, bee-made honey. But only a half-teaspoon per day! As far as honey, a good rule of thumb is just let the bee’s make it, not a factory worker.
Fructose is the absolute worst sugar you can have. Fructose, as we mentioned is found in fruits and vegetables, but fructose found in fruits and vegetables isn’t the only issue, it’s in the juices! Drinking juice gives you super high levels of fructose, setting you up for weight loss resistance, and worse, weight gain.
I hate to see clients following the juicing trend because it is one of the oldest and largest traps you can fall into. I have seen people go out and spend $200 on a juicer. There are many things wrong with this (beyond the fact that a juicer is $200). First, juicing separates the pulp (where the nutrients and fibers are), and leaves behind the high-fructose juice. Secondly, juicing does in fact have an amazing detox effect, releasing toxins from your tissue, but without the fiber or protein, the toxins have nothing to latch onto and will not be expelled from the body. So you’re left with free floating toxins. Thirdly, there is no volume in juice, meaning you don’t feel full. Juice will cause your blood sugar and insulin to increase really quickly. Would you sit down and chow down on five oranges in one sitting? No. But you could easily drink five oranges in a large glass of OJ.
Also, avoid the juices that use the term nectar or fruit cocktail because this translates into “more sugar was added to make it taste better, yet sound healthier”.
Our stomachs (on average) can hold around 30 ounces. More or less depending on the person. A supersize beverage at the gas station or fast food restaurant can be around 64 ounces. That’s twice as big as what your stomach can hold. A typical soda in this big supersized drink has over 180 grams of sugar in it (Over 700 calories). This means, when you drink this soda or Slurpee, your body can’t process it quick enough, so instead it’s expelled out of your stomach, straight into your small intestines where insulin and blood sugars spike even more than normal!
These are not the way to go, they raise insulin, and quickly. Some studies have shown people’s bodies to release insulin simply after swishing and spitting out sucrose and saccharine, this insulin response started in the mouth without the subjects even swallowing. Remember, your body raises insulin, then stores fat.
I do have some good news though! I recommend for those who need to sweeten their food to use a sugar alcohol called Xylitol. It’s a sugar alcohol, not to be confused with alcohol or sugar, because they have less calories and don’t affect blood sugar (significantly). It slows down how quickly the stomach will empty (keeping you full) and suppresses ghrelin, a digestive hormone, from triggering hunger. It won’t feed yeast, and is an anti-bacterial, not causing tooth decay (hence it’s used in chewing gum and even helps with bone remodeling). But just because Xylitol is a great alternative to sweetener, it’s not to be mistaken (like gluten free foods) as a superfood or an excuse to use it all the time. Still use professional judgement and moderation!
Obviously, it goes without saying that you have to get rid of sodas during the 30 Day Challenge. Most of us know this, and many of us have been telling ourselves we will cut back on sodas, but in this case, all together, consider them gone. After you begin retraining your taste buds, drinking flavored seltzer water will begin to satisfy your soda craving. For many of us, going sugar free sounds like the hardest part of the challenge, especially for those of us who have been overly stimulated with sugar (and let’s face it, that’s most of us!) How could you appreciate the sweetness of blueberries, vanilla, or cinnamon after knowing how great a sugary snack cake or soda tastes?
The Great Sugar Crash!
The downside I have found with clients is once sugar is cut out, many of them don’t glide down slowly and land, they crash. Quickly. Straight into the side of a mountain. So I do recommend to taper off of sugar. Begin this process by significantly cutting back on your sodas down to one a day for a day or so, and increase your sugary fruit servings by two. Then down to one. Do this for a couple of days and you won’t crash (as hard!). Sugar is a drug, and just like coming off a drug, you will face withdrawals, crankiness, and cravings. After a couple of days with no sugar, these should subside.
*If you have any metabolic disorder, diabetes, prone to hypoglycemia, or get shaky after not having sugar, I strongly encourage you to first discuss this with your doctor or licensed healthcare provider first before cutting out sugar.*