Sweet sweet sugar
There is a common misconception that fat, carbs and/or calories are the top contributors to weight gain. While having a diet that is high in trans fats, quick release carbs and excess calories will contribute to weight gain and poor health, one of the top contributors to weight gain, obesity and obesity related illnesses (such as diabetes and heart disease) is, believe it or not, the very low calorie ‘food’…. Sugar.
Sugar is like a little health bandit. It comes into your lives without you even noticing and steals from you. Steals your energy, the strength of your immune system, your healthy skin… and it leaves you with excess weight, bloat and the feeling that you need to go back for more. And that’s because, sugar releases feel good chemicals in the pleasure center of your brain. A little thief that you don’t want to live without.
A diet high in refined sugar, not only is one of the worst culprits for poor health, but it’s another one of those things that can have a vicious and cyclical effect in your body (like the exercise/ stress/ sleep cycle we talked about last week- check it out here).
Here’s how the vicious cycle works:
You eat simple sugars and your blood sugars spike, then they drop, then they crave more sugar. The constant highs and lows of blood sugar instabilities can cause your hormones to get a little nutso, bad bacteria in your gut to proliferate, and a whole host of other issues. The effect it has on your metabolism becomes detrimental to your health.
We talk a lot about sugar.
You would probably expect Nutritionists to go on and on about sugar. Especially considering the average American consumes about 150 lbs. of sugar per year, and even when they don’t think they are consuming it, it’s there.
There’s the obvious: candy, chocolate, pop and other sweets.
And the not so obvious: condiments, cereal, salad dressings, juice, snacks, muffins, crackers, white flour, white rice (yep, white flour and rice are pretty much sugar- we call them quick release carbs). Even products labeled “healthy”, “gluten-free”, “low-fat”, and “natural” are often loaded with sugars.
What are the effects of too much sugar?
- Poor skin
- Poor stamina
- Hormonal imbalances
- Lack of energy
- Blood sugar imbalances
- Poor sleep
- Brain fog
- Gastrointestinal distress
Now you see why there has been a huge shift lately to control the amount of sugar in the North American diet. Just by making a few small changes here and there, and cutting refined and processed sugar out of your diet, you will be able to help reduce some of the above symptoms and get on the right path to resetting your metabolism and sustainable weight loss.
Slow release carbohydrates vs. quick release carbohydrates.
Quick release carbs are found in high carbohydrate foods that contain little to no protein and fiber i.e.) white sugar, white bread, white rice, pastries, biscuits, wraps, muffins, candy, cookies, commercial chocolate bars, and conventional snacks like crackers to name a few.
When these foods have been stripped of their fibers or contain no protein, their sugars are absorbed and digested very easily (or go quickly into your bloodstream). Consuming too many quick release carbs or simple sugars throw your blood sugar off balance. And balanced blood sugar levels are essential for blasting fat, increasing your immunity, and boosting your energy levels.
A note on insulin: The hormone insulin spikes at the same time your blood sugars do. Your body needs insulin to essentially ‘open the door’ of the cell, allowing for the carb or sugar to enter and be used as fuel. Over time, a diet high in sugar and quick release carbs numb the receptors on the cells so that insulin cannot do its job properly and the sugar cannot enter the cell. This is what where Type 2 Diabetes come into play.
Slow release carbs are the carbohydrates that our body needs and is ACTUALLY craving. They are whole foods, unprocessed, high in fiber and usually also high in plant-based protein, which allow for blood sugar stability and assists in weight loss. They are slowly released into your blood stream and used at an appropriate pace to how your body needs to burn them.
Our favourite slow release carbs: whole grains (barley, spelt, wheat berries, quinoa, millet), starchy vegetables (like root veggies), lentils and beans, brown rice, whole grain pasta, and oatmeal.
Bottom line: You can have your pasta and eat it too! Just make sure its whole grain or brown rice pasta though 😉