Sugar: How Sweet It Is NOT

If I were to choose the one dietary factor that most influences weight loss or gain, it would be sugar.

 

Sugar is a “sweet” detriment to our health, an insidious stowaway that hides itself in the foods we like to eat and even in foods we consider “healthy.”  I call it a stowaway because most people are unaware of just how much sugar they are consuming on a daily basis. For that matter, most don’t know the recommended amount of sugar they are to consume in a day to begin with!

 

Here’s what you need to know: When we consume too much sugar, it replaces the healthy nutrient-dense foods we need with empty extra calories that have no nutritional value.  That means you feel “full” without getting the nutrition your body desperately needs… so you’re not motivated to eat the good stuff!

 

Furthermore, sugar is a major contributor to obesity, diabetes, cardio vascular disease, and some cancers. Excess sugar sends our blood sugar on a rollercoaster ride and causes an overproduction of insulin (the hormone that regulates blood sugar and stores fat).

 

The American Heart Association recommends 6 teaspoons a day for women and 9 for men.  The average American consumes 22 teaspoons in a day.

 

The latest statistics show that 1 in 3 Americans IS overweight, which is largely due to our excessive sugar intake.  Let’s do the math:   1 teaspoon of sugar equals 15 calories. If we are consuming 16 extra teaspoons a day, that adds up to 240 empty calories. 240 extra calories multiplied by 7 days/week multiplied by 4 weeks/month multiplied by 12 months/year and divided by 3500 calories (which equals 1 pound) quickly adds up to 23 pounds in one year!  The good news is that the reverse is also true:  Find ways to cut out the excess sugar and you will lose weight.

 

Become a label reader!  Know what and how much you are consuming.  The sugar grams in a food product are listed under the carbohydrate totals on the nutrition labels. 1 teaspoon of sugar equals 4 grams.  Your goal daily amount would then be 24 grams of sugar for women and 54 grams for men.

 

One of my clients was shocked when she started reading labels to discover her regular morning bowl of Raisin Bran (which she had considered “healthy”) contained 19 grams of sugar in a SINGLE SERVING – nearly a day’s worth of sugar!

 

Knowledge is power…we can’t change what we don’t know!

 

BB

 

Brenda BobBrenda Bobackack is a Certified Personal Trainer and Cycling Instructor at Harbor Fit. When not teaching classes, Brenda is working one-on-one with clients to help them achieve their fitness goals. She has a special interest in diabetes prevention, nutrition, and women’s health and wellness. You can contact Brenda at fitbydesign@live.com.

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Holiday Stress and Weight Gain

(Or, How Can Something with No Calories Make Us Fat?)

 

I love this time of year!  I love the meaning of Christmas, spending time with family and friends, shopping, good food, yummy treats, and everything else Christmas-related.  But the sad reality is that sometimes we get so caught up in the “hustle and bustle” that we become stressed. Instead of living in and enjoying each moment, our Christmas season becomes one to “just get through,” and we lose our joy—not to mention our peace of mind!

 

Stress—holiday or otherwise—is poison.  It wreaks havoc on us mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.   It can negatively affect our relationships with family and friends and cause depression.  It makes us tired and fatigued, breaks down our immune system, and raises our blood pressure. Furthermore, it contributes to weight gain.  YIKES!  So, how can something that has no calories make us fat?

 

Without getting too scientific, cortisol is a hormone that is released when we face any type of stress.  This stress hormone, combined with other hormones (and depending on their levels and ratios to each other) can and will make our bodies redistribute and store excess fat, usually around the mid-section. These hormones and their levels are influenced not only by stress but also by our eating, sleeping, and exercise habits.

 

Exercise is key in regulating our stress levels and lowering cortisol. It raises the levels of HGH (human growth hormone) and testosterone, two hormones that specifically burn fat.   A higher level of these two hormones versus the cortisol will prevent fat storage and actually burn fat more efficiently.

 

We cannot control all the stress life brings but we CAN control how we react to it.  Healthy eating, getting enough sleep, and a good exercise plan will prevent the weight gain associated with stress.

 

During this holiday season, I encourage you NOT to put exercise on the back burner.  There are 1440 minutes in a day. Take 30 of those minutes and exercise, lowering stress and raising those fat-burning hormones.   Aim for four to six times a week combining cardio and resistance training.  The more intense the exercise, the higher the production of those fat burning hormones.

 

Additionally, be sure to eat frequently—four to six times a day—adding protein to each meal/snack to stabilize blood sugar, give you energy, and keep insulin (a fat-storing hormone) at bay.  And be sure to get seven to eight hours of sleep.

 

Make your health and fitness a priority.  Be intentional and carve out those 30 minutes a day.  Create an eating plan and stick to it. And enjoy all this Christmas season has to offer!

BB

 

Brenda BobackBrenda Boback is a Certified Personal Trainer and Cycling Instructor at Harbor Fit. When not teaching classes, Brenda is working one-on-one with clients to help them achieve their fitness goals. She has a special interest in diabetes prevention, nutrition, and women’s health and wellness. You can contact Brenda at fitbydesign@live.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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