Most people have one of two goals, and sometimes both as it relates to nutrition:
The average American consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar a day despite the fact that the World Health Organization suggests 6 teaspoons. 4 grams of sugar equals one teaspoon.
Sugars come in many forms and are often disguised by various names, which can make omitting them from your diet tricky. Try to limit added sugar to 25 grams. For perspective,
an RX bar has 14g of added sugar, so staying under this limit means meaningfully limiting packaged foods and beverages and eating whole foods instead.
NATURALLY OCCURRING SUGAR
Sugar is a simple carbohydrate that provides calories for your body to use as energy. Sugar has no other nutritional value. Naturally occurring sugar is the sugar found in whole, unprocessed foods such as milk, fruit, vegetables and some grains. One of the most common natural sugars is fructose, which is found in fruit. Another common natural sugar is lactose, which is found in milk.
WHAT IS ADDED SUGAR?
Added sugar is the sugar that is added to processed foods and drinks while they are being made. Added sugars in foods and drinks add calories that provide little or no nutritional value. These calories are sometimes called “empty calories.”
SUGAR AND YOUR HEALTH
Sugar disables your immune system. Your white blood cells are compromised and you get sick easier and don’t recover as fast. Consuming more than 25 grams per day of added sugar increases insulin response and can lead to metabolic syndrome and diabetes, as well as excess weight gain and obesity. Sugar has zero nutritional value. It has no proteins, essentially fats, vitamins, or minerals.
SUGAR AND YOUR PERFORMANCE
Consuming sugar causes long-term fatigue and the release of a stress hormone that decreases performance. It also lowers your ability to take in oxygen and it decreases your body’s production of leptin. When your leptin levels are off it forces you to overeat, crave more sugar, and will eventually begin to throw off things like sleep, alertness, and decision-making ability under stress. Sugar increases oxidative stress in the body so you can’t recover and you will break down faster.
There are 65 different names for sugar on food labels according to the FDA. Below is an edited list. It’s super important that we read labels and start to understand how much we are consuming daily. If you could just make one change to meaningfully impact the amount of sugar you consume, it would be to eliminate packaged foods altogether from your diet.
Label laws in the US are such that added sugar is not accurately captured or complete. As an example: a single cup of bran cereal with raisins, in a box advertising “no high- fructose corn syrup” contains 20 grams of sugar per serving. That’s 4 teaspoons of sugar per serving. As a reminder, the World Health Organization suggests 6 teaspoons per day.
HOW TO AVOID ADDED SUGAR
Cut out processed foods, candy, baked goods, and dairy desserts. Choose whole foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains for meals and snacks. Skip sugary drinks and choose water instead. Look for recipes that use less sugar when you are cooking or baking.
If your diet is dense in nutrients than supplements aren’t needed. If you need a little extra boost though here are the recommendations:
VITAMIN D - 5000-10000 IU/Daily promotes normal immune function, helps prevent disease and improve mood
VITAMIN C - Take 250m – 500m per day of liposomal vitamin C. Great research shows how much more it is absorbed. Try “Truly Natural Vitamin C” derived from acerola berry is a good one. If you are sick or getting sick then use liposomal vitamin C because you can take up too 10,000mg daily and still absorb it all. (Dr. Mercola is also a good one.)
FISH OIL - 2000mg daily of a fish oil that is sustainably sourced, has no fillers and has a 1:1 EPA:DHA ratio
PROBIOTICS – You should have 60B live cultures a day that should be shelf stable. Can come from a probiotic or fermented food, etc. Biocult.
GRAINS & CARBS
THE GOAL: 150G OR LESS
The right carb intake for your body is different for everyone. The first step is knowing where your currently carb baseline is.
If weight loss is your goal, ideally you’ll want to limit your carb intake to 50g. However, if that
is a significant change from your current levels, then work your way down to that level over time. Start at 150 and work your way down. Along the way, you’ll learn a lot about what the right number is for you. If you find that you can’t function on 50g, then make your goal less than 100g of carbs.
The transition from burning carbs to burning fats can be difficult. Your body will need some time to adjust and you may not feel great. Play around with how many carbs you are eating. You may have to make small increases until you feel better.
WHAT ARE CARBS?
Grains are very simple carbohydrates that break down into sugar quickly. This causes a spike in blood sugar levels, which in turn causes a spike in insulin levels. High insulin levels prevent your body from burning fat because they cause your body to focus on converting the excess glucose in your bloodstream into energy, then storing the rest as fat.
Just restricting calories means that you will lose fat but you will also lose lean muscle. Less muscle will slow metabolism. When you switch to burning fat you use fat as a source of energy and continue to burn. Complex carbs like vegetables move slowly through the digestive system and insoluble fiber isn’t digested.
Drink half your body weight in ounces of water every day. Our tissue needs water in order for the lymphatic system to really work efficiently. Drink cold water during a workout and in your acute recovery phase (within 30 minutes of training) because it’s absorbed faster, speeding up the recovery process.
If you like a martini (or two) in the evening, brace yourself, after reading this you may want to rethink that drink. Not only is alcohol an addictive drug, it is also toxic to the liver. Too much alcohol in your system makes detoxification a high priority. This causes your liver to prioritize detoxification over the uptake of nutrients. If the liver is busy detoxifying from alcohol consumption it is not able to burn fat or metabolize the alcohol into sugar – causing a dip in blood sugar and a rise in blood fats. As some toxins are not processed, they are stored as fat.
Additionally, alcohol is dehydrating, which means that it can negatively affect electrolyte balance. Alcohol also plays a strong role in the disruption of hormone utilization and can cause metabolism to slow down.