Happy Thursday LYL friends!
Both Mark and myself have been travelling quite a bit over the past week so we are a couple days behind getting our “Ask the Nathropath” post out to you guys. But, hey, better later then never right? 🙂
Your gonna love today’s post, take it away Mark!!
During the previous two sessions of “Ask The Nathropath” I talked about artificial sugars and sweeteners and how they affect your health and fat loss. Today I felt it was also important to revisit the mechanism of glucose (sugar) to help you better understand exactly what happens in your body when you consume sugar, and how chronically high levels of sugar in the body is harmful to your health.
Sugar is a necessary part of our diet, the problem is that we consume WAY too much of it.
In this article I will outline some of the positives of consuming sugar; however it’s very important that you keep in mind that sugar (glucose) is ok when consumed naturally and in proper amounts. This is NOT a free ride to eat as much sugar as possible because as you will read further into today’s article there are many negative side effects to consuming too much sugar.
So let’s get to it!
What is glucose (sugar)?
It is a combination of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen which is used by the body as its major energy currency.
Every cell uses sugar as its main source of energy to complete its tasks.
Your skin, eyes, brain, liver, spleen, muscles and immune system use sugar. It is so specified that it can be burned in the body without oxygen!
That’s crazy; you can burn something without oxygen? Yes you can but it occurs in specific regions in the cells called mitochondria.
Glucose has specific pathways which it can be turned into various other molecules which can result in creating energy, called ATP, Adenosine Tri Phosphate.
Whatever that is right?
Well that is the main high energy molecule which makes your eyes blink, helped me write this post, allow you to cross your legs, or to sip that cup of coffee.
When ATP is used by the body it releases very high amounts of energy which allow muscles to contract and actions to happen.
How is glucose used by the body?
Well for that we have to talk chemicals and chemistry. Which is a strong point of mine, but here is the Coles notes version.
Glucose gets absorbed directly into the blood stream when you eat food under your tongue, and also in the GI tract of the intestine. From here we have a molecule released by the pancreas called Insulin, which transports sugar to the cells which are calling for energy. When insulin binds to the cells receptor which has ordered sugar it enters through very specific transporters to enter the mitochondria (cells power house).
Here is where the magic happens!
We have a pathway or cycle called the citric acid cycle (or Krebs cycle) where glucose goes through many reactions to end up with 36 ATP molecules all ready to help you move or accomplish your tasks.
Phew! After all that thinking I need some sugar, just kidding.
What is interesting is that the cells which have just been satisfied with sugars will send out another hormone which thanks the blood stream for delivering sugar, it is called Leptin.
Leptin tells your brain that cells have been satisfied and to stop looking for sugar from the diet; which is key if your goal is weight loss.
Even more fascinating is this burning reaction I told you about which do not use oxygen. These reactions occur when you exercise. The energy used to exercise is derived from the sugar you have stored all over your body; we just call it something different, FAT!
FAT or in technical terms adipose tissue that is nothing more than a few hormones mixed with waste products and sugar.
Why do we have it?
To use as fuel when the body needs it.
It also keeps our core temperature steady, protects our internal organs and in some cases is a source of hormones (which occurs in andropause and menopause).
Interesting to note is that when your cells need energy, for example when your exercise, the adrenal gland (my favorite topic of all) sends Cortisol or stress hormone into the blood and allows the stored sugar to be converted into glycogen which is stored around muscles as a fail safe for when you need energy.
When this occurs in an anaerobic state, for example when you exercise or are stressed out of your mind, your body will not use oxygen to make energy, however it creates a nasty bi product called lactic acid, which is why you are so sore the day after a strenuous workout.
This acid has the same pH as acetic acid (vinegar). The difference is that you will only make about 2 ATP molecules at this stage and you will start to begin to tire, as your body wants you to stop running.
Now that we’ve talk chemistry and chemicals, what does this mean for fat loss?
First, we have to look at how your body is responding to the hormone imbalances your lifestyle creates, as well as this weird reaction your body has to sugar which actually satisfies the brain much like sex would.
I know sex and sugar are on the same team, how a man win!! lol
But in any diet or fat loss program it is important to mobilize fat stores, which means use the energy you have stored for these times instead of putting more in which will eventually store anyway if you don’t get off the couch.
This is where a hormone profile comes into play which many naturopaths offer.
There is an amazing system of hormone storage which is called Biosignature profile, by Charles Poliquin. His protocol shows us where fat stores based on selective hormones.
Your mid-section is Cortisol storage spot.
Your triceps are is estrogen.
Your thigh is progesterone.
And your chin is inflammation or cortisone.
So the trained eye will be able to see where these hormones are out of balance and then we can modify exercise and diet habits to help.
But in general, your goal should be to cut sugar out of your diet. There are so much added sugars in our foods now, like grains, milk, boxed foods, and even some meats that we do not need the additional sugar from candy, ice cream, cakes, and cookies.
Sugars should come from natural foods like fruit, naturally juiced fruits, vegetables, nuts and meats. Interesting to note all of these natural foods were once alive and have an energy production mechanism in them.
Your mars bar by no means was every alive!
The sugar in your mars bar was laboratory made and has no enzymes or live characteristics which make it digestible!
So get your sugars from real sources, apple juice is not real, eat an apple.
Fruit bars are not fruit! Eat REAL fruit!
Vegetables have a healthy balance of nutrients vitamins, and sugars which are easily digestible and will satisfy your body.
However, please note that there is an optimal time to consumer sugar (natural or artificially) when the negative effects of sugar are somewhat mitigated, and that is right after a hard-core, resistance training workout. I know Courtney and her LYL team like to refer to this window of opportunity as “Earn Your Carbs”.
After an intense workout is when sugar is very efficiently metabolized by the body and quickly absorbed by your ‘just-worked’ muscles. Plus, exercise sensitizes your cells to the effects of insulin, the exact opposite of the desensitizing effect that chronic sugar intake has.
So consuming some simple sugars after a work-out, along with a lean, quick digesting protein is a good way to enhance your workout recovery. I know if you were to ask Courtney she would only recommend you choose natural, nutrient-dense sources of sugar like fresh fruit. But, if you’re looking for a way to enjoy a little treat without feeling too guilty about it, use your post-workout window as the optimal time to satisfy your sweet tooth. All in moderation of course!
I also highly recommend that you increase good fat sources in your diet, these will give you more energy per gram and offer bigger bang for the buck than sugar. In addition to keeping blood sugar balanced by eating frequently and in small amounts will help maintain these levels and help curb the cravings of cutting our sugar.
So that’s the positive on sugar! Let’s move on to the negative impacts of too much sugar.
What does sugar do in excess?
This is an issue that we all face, with many more foods being enriched with sugar to make them taste better. Food manufactures are continuously adding sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners to our foods. 1) To add shelf life, and 2) to maintain and enhance some form of taste.
So what does this mean to you?
Well for starters to much sugar in the blood stream creates insulin sensitivity, which means that your cells are starting to get annoyed with insulin’s presence and does not recognize it as well as it once did, this leads to sugar staying in the blood longer which can increase heart disease, hardening of the arteries, storage of fatty acids, or fat, increased central obesity particularly around the mid-section and thighs in women, sleep disturbances due to the brain hormones changing mainly serotonin.
There is also the issue of hormone balance, as you consume more and more sugar you will notice that fat cells will start to appear all over your body as described above; interesting is that fat cells will secrete estrogen in to the blood, hence your ovaries will not have to produce as much estrogen as they once did, this can result in loss of sex drive, emotional changes, tissue damage, mainly in the breast and ovaries and increased cholesterol levels.
Sugar is also a toxin, so the liver will have to process this and eliminate it from the body, which results in swelling, inflammation, and increase of liver proteins which can lead to heart disease; the #1 killer of women in North America. Toxic accumulation in the body can also lead to bone, organ and joint degradation. So if you suffer with issues like arthritis, pain, inflammation or lympohdema, you really want to make sure your diet is low in sugar.
Sugar is also very acidic when broken down, this will result in a huge amount of stomach acid and digestive enzymes produced to help break down the sugar molecules when they are consumed, this can result in heart burn, digestive issues like constipation, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, acne both on face and body, and worse of all the body will actually pull nutrients from the bones, teeth, thyroid and other glands to neutralize the acid in the blood stream, bad news.
Lastly, we in the natural health profession consider sugar to be an anti-nutrient!
What does that mean?
Sugar will pull nutrients out of healthy cells and in some cases bind to the same receptor as many essential vitamins and minerals not allowing them to be absorbed by the cells that need them.
It will also cause inflammation in tissues which will limit the absorption of nutrients mainly in the intestinal lining, in addition to requiring a lot of water to help keep the blood in a stable place, which will cause some water balance hormones to increase, your red blood cell production can be slowed which will lead to loss of energy, your blood pressure will start to rise as the linings start to harden, and sometimes immunity is affected due to the thymus gland and bone marrow not producing as many white blood cells, lymphatic tissue will start to increase leaving swelling and inflammation in areas all around your body and the inability to remove viruses, toxins, and bacteria as it should.
Sugar…Tasty but toxic! This sweet poison whether added to food by you or a manufacturer is the greatest threat to your health, and unless you are committed to a sugar smack down, you don’t just run the risk of increased fat storage and weight gain, you also run the risk of dramatically decreasing the quality of your health and well-being.
So cutting out sugar is one of the major diet changes you can make to improve your health and speed up your fat loss.
Now I know cutting out sugar sucks and when you commit to cutting sugar from your diet you may start to feel cranky, hormonal, possibly starving, and you may even experience headaches.
Please know that these feelings and symptoms are normal and that your body is doing what it needs to do to eliminate these sugars from your blood stream.
To help your body heal and to speed up your fat loss TODAY I invite you to take a….
2-Week No Sugar Challenge!
I want you to ditch the added sugar and artificial sweeteners in your diet for 14 days.
- Choose foods that have 5 grams of sugar or less a serving. You can find this information on the Nutrition Facts label or by searching Google for that particular food item. If you eat 5 meals a day your goal is to consume no more than 25grams of sugar per day.
- Cut out all natural sweeteners, such as agave, honey, and maple syrup.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners as much as possible.
After you’re completed the challenge, please share your experiences with us here on the LYL Blog.
How did your food taste throughout the two weeks and after?
Were you surprised to see what foods or beverages contained added sugars or artificial sweeteners?
Were you surprised to see the amount of sugar that’s added to foods and beverages?
When I ask clients to take this challenge it’s always a huge eye opening experience, so I hope you too will jump on board.
I’m excited to hear from you!
Ok ladies, there you have it! I hope this week’s article has helped you become a little more Sugar Savvy!
Stay tuned as next week I will be talking about hormone involvement in fat loss programs. A topic I know you ladies will find extremely helpful, so I look forward to answering some of your questions.
In the meantime please keep sharing your comments and questions with myself, Courtney and her team of coaches; I have all kinds of ideas for articles so the more you comment the more we can help you.
Until next time.
Good luck with the Sugar Challenge!