Do you crave chocolate or sweets on a regular basis? Do you reach for an afternoon carb-rich pick-me-up? Do you drown your sorrows in a pint of Ben and Jerry’s? Do you just enjoy sugar in any shape or form? Then we need to have a little talk!
Not only is sugar in the most obvious places, but it also lurks in some lesser-known areas as well such as salad dressings, bread, yogurt, barbecue sauces and ketchup, baked beans, smoothies and basically most processed foods in one way or another.
Is all sugar bad and should you stay away from it? Not necessarily…
It’s important to realize that sugar comes from many sources, aside from the aforementioned. Any sugary or starchy food is considered carb-worthy and breaks down into a useable form for the body called glucose. Let’s be clear—your body NEEDS glucose! Just not too much. This can be sweet and non-sweet items alike (for instance a plain bagel or an ice cream cone).
We normally categorize carbohydrates into good (complex) or bad (simple) carbs; while the labels are not 100 percent justifiable (a banana is a simple/fast digesting carb, for example), they are a great way to identify them according to your needs.
Complex carbs are touted as the superior carb group because they not only contain necessary vitamins and minerals, but they also keep your blood sugar stable due to their higher fiber content. The fiber causes them to be digested slower, thus avoiding the dreaded sugar spike.
Simple carbs like white bread, pastas, and white rice cause our blood sugar to rise rapidly and give us that infamous “crash” feeling later—which also throws our metabolism out of whack and interferes with our weight.
Think of yourself as glucose. You arrive at the airport after a long flight and your mom (the pancreas) sends your brother (insulin) to pick you up and drop you off at your hotel (cells). If the hotel is full (or the cell has all the energy it requires), then your brother drops you off at the next available motel (body fat).
No big deal, you don’t mind staying at the motel. For one night. But if you continue to junk up your system with a never ending fountain of sugar overload, your pancreas has to compensate by recruiting even more insulin, which overtaxes it. If continued, you could develop insulin resistance which interferes with your body being able to regulate blood sugar, your ability to lose weight and increases your risk for certain diseases and cancers.
So what’s a healthier option? Look to the Glycemic Index; it rates carbohydrates on a scale of 0-100, with white table sugar being at 100 for its fast digestibility. Anything below 60 is generally great because these foods contain the most fiber. I’ll skip the mile-long list of foods and give you the basic best to worst in a nutshell.
Best sources: veggies (surprise, surprise!), beans and legumes, grains, and lower glycemic index fruits, such as berries, pears, apples, and so on.
Decent sources: higher GI fruits, such as bananas, natural sweeteners like agave and maple syrup, honey, and fruit juices.
Limit or avoid: white sugar, candy, sodas, brown sugar, powdered sugar, and even evaporated cane juice.
If you can limit your processed and high-sugar intake, you will see your cravings begin to subside—but be patient! It definitely takes time and depending on how dependent you are on them, you may experience some unpleasant withdrawal symptoms like headaches, more cravings, or even mood swings just to name a few. If you have any questions, I’m just an email away!
Crystal Manjarres is the owner of One-On-One Fitness, a private personal training and Pilates studio for men and women on Marco Island. She is a Certified Personal Trainer, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Colon Hydrotherapist and Stott Pilates certified instructor. Her focus is “empowering men and women of all shapes and sizes”. To send in a question, email Crystal@PinkIslandFitness.com. She can also be reached at www.101FIT.com or www.PinkIslandFitness.com and 239-333-5771.