Here is our last Healthy Habit for you leading into our Nutrition and Lifestyle Challenge launch this Saturday!
Most people are ready to get going and make some major change at this point with holidays wrapped up for another year and dreams of warm summer days dancing in your heads while getting through this cold snap! Dr. Gagné has written this excellent information packed post for you so please read, learn, commit and shift your thinking to “I can. I will. I am.”
FOCUS Avoid added sugars or sweeteners
AKA: Don’t put splenda in your coffee or honey in your smoothie!
- Learn to not rely on added sugars or artificial sweeteners for taste and recalibrate your palate to the taste of real foods
- Focus on whole foods for added sweetness or flavour: e.g., 1/2 banana in smoothie, coconut milk in coffee
Many people consume an astounding amount of sugar on a daily basis, not aware of the fluctuations in insulin that it causes, which leads to energy roller coasters, mood swings, and weight gain. Can your afternoon low, morning grogginess, or “love handles” be a consequence of too much sugar in your diet?
What is insulin anyways and why is it important to stabilize it? Insulin is like the air conditioner in the blood. This hormone, secreted by the pancreas when carbohydrates (“carbs”) are consumed (think vegetables, fruits, grains, beans, legumes, and sugars like maple syrup and honey), is responsible of many basics functions, including maintaining your blood sugar level, balancing the fat-burning and carb-burning metabolisms, and controlling hunger. Once you ingest carbs, insulin is secreted in the blood to mobilize the sugar into storage, in the liver and in the muscles as glycogen, which is your body storage of energy. Once needed, glycogen is broken down to produce ATP, your cells’ fuel!
When you eat a lot of carbs during the day, insulin is constantly secreted in the blood to reduce the blood sugar level. Once the maximum amount of glucose (sugar in the blood) that can be stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles is exceeded, there is a problem!?! The liver then converts the excess of glucose into fatty acids (read fats)! When the system is regulated to burn sugar due to the excessive consumption of carbs, the metabolism does not use your fat storage as an energy source, but rather accumulates more fat in your cells while being too busy burning that excess sugar!
Hence, to prevent that vicious cycle that leads up to gaining fat mass and, ultimately, insulin resistance, you need to control your carb intake and the type of carbs you eat. The Nutrition Challenge focus’ on this nutritional aspect by eliminating all sugar intake, as well as artificial sweeteners. You therefore need to get your required amount of carbohydrates from whole foods, like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, that contain fibre, which slows the release of insulin into the blood, as well as being packed with essential nutrients like vitamins and minerals!
Sugar is very addictive to the brain, and some studies have even shown that it is more addictive than cocaine!? We recommend going “cold turkey” on this one! Cut the sugar out now! But what about artificial sweeteners Dr. Gagné? Well even worse. Not only did it fail at solving the American obesity epidemic since their insertion in the food industry in the 1980s, it is now considered to cause “diabetes of the brain” – by that I mean they increase the chance of developing neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis!?
The rules are simple:
- No simple sugars like sucrose, fructose, dextrose
- No natural sweeteners like honey, maple syrup, agave nectar
- No artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose, or acesulfame potassium
You might want to look at:
- Sugar alcohols, for example xylitol, maltitol, sorbitol or erythritol: sugar alcohols are naturally occurring in fermented fruits and don’t raise insulin levels and might be beneficial for your good intestinal bacteria
- Stevia: stevia is extracted from plant leaves and does not have any impact of insulin and it is about 300 times sweeter than table sugar
- Fruit purees: make applesauce, berries compote, and dates paste to use in recipes as a replacement for sugar
Things to consider:
- Check your workouts supplements! For natural supplement brands, I suggest looking, for example, into Paleoethics or PVL essentials
- Check your energy/protein bars! For good protein bars brands, I suggest looking into, for example, Elevate Me or Quest Nutrition (the stevia-sweetened ones, not the ones with sucralose)
Looks at food labels and search for added sugars! It takes some practise to get used to spot these easily!
FOCUS/GOAL: Avoid simple sugars, and natural and artificial sweeteners
BONUS CHALLENGE: Avoid fruit and vegetables juices (devoid of fibre), and dried fruits (really just simple sugars!)
Good luck!! As always, if you have questions, please ask and get some answers,
Sully and Marie-Éve
Vanessa Sullivan, affectionately know as Sully, is a Coach and Owner at Taranis Athletics. She is passionate about helping people live healthier lives. “It’s not enough to get by, we should have the opportunity to thrive.” You can read more about her here
Dr. Marie-Éve Gagné is a physicist who has taken her inquisitive mind into the world of nutrition. At first it was a life changing need for her own health and now she wants to share this knowledge with everyone to help improve lives. You can visit her site and find out more about her back ground and mission here