Back to Basics: Losing the Sugar

It is the age old question. Why are we, as Americans, so freakin’ unhealthy? What has changed in our evolution that has caused the majority of us to become obese, stressed, fatigued, sick and food addicted? Where did it start, and how the heck do we end it?

There are many theories out there. Just google it.

Now, I’m not obese, nor have I ever been. But I have struggled with weight issues in the past. And I have struggled with anxiety and depression stemming mainly from sleep deprivation. I have also suffered with IBS and severe gut aches in the past that have downright debilitated me. By the end of the day, I’d be laying in bed, belly down, trying to relieve the severe bloating and pain I’d get after dinner. And it wasn’t just once in a while, but almost every night.

It wasn’t until early this year, while trying to shed a few pounds before the Boston Marathon, that I stumbled upon something called a Ketogenic Diet. My virtual running girlfriends at Runner Girls Podcast were taking about it and it intrigued me. A little research taught me that is pretty similar to the Atkin’s way of eating, and I know from his experience that my husband has done will with Atkin’s in the past (if I could only get him to stick to it.)

I listened to a podcast by Ben Greenfield and became intrigued by becoming fat adapted, rather than glucose adapted. It all seemed to make sense. Here I was, running, doing resistance training regularaly (P90X) and yet I could not drop those pesky 5-7 pounds that just added extra force to my joints that I just didn’t need. Where was I failing? Clearly, it was in my diet because I was certainly burning enough calories on a daily basis.

Despite the fact that I had cut a lot of crap out of my diet, I was still missing something. Since going gluten free last year, I noticed big changes in my day to day life. The biggest of which was the disappearance of the belly aches. Yep…seemed obvious from the get go that I have a gluten intolerance. Cutting down (if not completely cutting out) the breads, wheat, pastas, cereals, etc. made a huge impact on my physical health. I also suddenly started sleeping better. My peri-menopausal hot flashes became way less extreme, and my rosacia suddenly vanished from my nose and cheeks. I also dropped quite a bit of weight and my body appearance became much more vascular. It was almost as though I had much of my “internal” or visceral fat stores…the ones that hid the six-pack among other muscles.

Before and After

Before and After: 2009 to today.

Now some of you out there might think “That is GREAT! I”ll just cut out the gluten and my problems will be solved!” hence blaming it all on gluten and processed foods. “It’s GLUTEN not SUGAR!”

But do you know what happens to gluten and processed foods in your body? It turns into glucose…or sugar. Yep…back to the damn sugar.

So…still, for me, those last few pounds…what gives?

I’ve always had a sweet tooth. And when I cut out the processed crap, I turned to fruit. Lots of fruit. I ate it incessantly, sometimes eating a half a pineapple first thing in the morning with a cup of coffee before my run or workout. Later in the day, more fruit, with lunch, dinner, before bed…I was fruit obsessed. And I glorified it by thinking, well, fruit is natural. The earth provides it. I should be able to eat as much as I want!

FruitFastFood

The fact of the matter is, it is still sugar. The body processes it as sugar. Sure, fruit in it’s natural form is way better than fruit juice because it still has all it’s fiber intact, which counteracts the natural fructose (or sugar) a wee bit. But not enough to impact the ultimate toll it places on your system. It is sugar. And it turns to glucose, of which your body burns…what it needs when it needs it…then stores the rest…as fat. Yep…fat. Cut the sugar, lose the fat. It is that simple.

I could go on and on in this blog post, but I don’t want to bore the Bijesus out of you. I will, however, continue with bits and pieces of information on what I have learned since the start of this year and how the Ketogenic or Low Carb/High Fat (LCHF) way of eating has completely changed my day to day life, not to mention my athletic performance. It is rather astonishing.

EatLessSugar

 

And, it makes PERFECT sense. I don’t want to burn glucose while I’m running. I want to burn FAT! Heck, I have lots of it!! And it is already in my system. The glucose? It doesn’t stay there in your system long enough to use when your body needs it…because your body has already stored it as FAT. I’d have to consume the glucose immediately (think of sports gels and high-sugared drinks) to have it available to burn in 10 minutes time. Yet, here is the simple fact. If I don’t consume the sugar at all, my body has no choice and will say…”Hey! We need energy! Let’s grab this fat over here…”

The crazy thing is, fat doesn’t mess with your brain like sugar does. In fact, your brain operates mainly on fat. Heck, it is 25% fat, so it LOVES it. You stay more focused being fat adapted than glucose adapted. And that means, you meet no “walls” on your runs. Yep…no walls.

In the meantime, if you want to learn more about the ill effects of sugar, I suggest you google Dr. Robert Lustig. Watch his series of videos, Sugar: The Bitter Truth. Read some of his eye-opening publications and educate yourself. Then, read more about the ill effects of gluten and grains. Grain Brain is a great read, as is Wheat Belly. If you are struggling at ALL with your weight or health, despite the fact that you run and/or exercise regularly, it might all come down to what you are putting in your mouth.

What do you honestly think about your sugar intake? Do you know how much sugar you eat on a daily basis? Do you think it is too much or do you believe the old adage “Everything in Moderation”?

 

And now for my disclaimer: I am NOT a doctor. I am NOT a nutritionist. I am an athlete and a runner. And I like to look good and feel good. All of this information in these blog posts comes from my own personal experiences. It has worked for me. Consult your own physician before attempting any major life changes. Educate yourself first and foremost.

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