All too often as people begin to get into the groove of fitness and health, they begin to let foods and drinks slip into their diets that while perceived on the outside to be healthy or beneficial are actually sabotaging results! It’s time to get these items in check so you can maintain your motivation, results and blood sugar levels at the same time.
Blood sugar…what? What many people don’t understand is that when we eat in a way that negatively affects our blood sugar levels, our body goes into a panic mode on a frequent basis. Each time we over indulge in sugars without proper balance, timing and need, our blood sugar spikes causing a release of insulin. The insulin brings blood sugar levels down but typically drops the levels a bit from our body’s normal homeostatic balance and leaves us craving and searching for more.
To keep this from happening, a proper balance is necessary between the macronutrients of protein, fat and carbohydrate. The following 7 items are things that people tend to use / abuse while working towards their goals. Let’s explore a bit deeper here.
From Sports drinks like Gatorade and Powerade to energy drinks like Red Bull and 5 Hour Energy to juices (whether the old school orange and apple juice or the more modern Naked or Boat House juices), we flood our bodies with unnecessary calories, sugars, food dyes and more.
Did you know that Gatorade was initially created to combat electrolyte loss…in people who were heavily sweating for 3 or more hours each day?!? Yet we use it when we go out for a daily walk or for a 20 minute elliptical run in the gym. Not necessary! The amount of sugar not to mention other non necessities that we consume within just one bottle is way more than we need for the activity level we are performing. Instead of the sports drink, if you feel your electrolytes are a bit low, try some Smart Water or even just a pinch of pink himalayan sea salt during the day.
As for the “energy drinks”, our bodies are actually quite sufficient at making their own energy! No, you probably don’t feel like a 20 year old every day but part of that comes from our inconsistent diets. When we feed the body an appropriate balance of nutrients (yes, nutrients are how we SHOULD be measuring our food instead of just calories) our internal systems are then able to not only perform as they should but rather begin to thrive and perform in a way we often didn’t’ know was possible. Most often when I take a client through a detox program, all energy drinks, including coffee, are taken out. While it scares the life out of them at first, within a week or two, they begin to feel their own natural energy returning and usually feel better with it than they ever did with the “false” energy from their drinks.
As we look at juice, the topic can be a bit muddled. On one hand, fruit is good for you, no? Yes, fruit is not only full of nutrients but also phytochemicals that the body desprately needs. However, that juice you’ve been drinking, has had most or all of it’s nutrition stripped out! Let’s discuss the “old school” stuff first, most of your typical orange and apple juice that you buy at the store has been heat processed meaning that almost all of the original nutrient content has been stripped away. This pretty much leaves a bottle of liquid sugar and preservatives. Are the ones in the refrigerated section any better? No, juices that have been heat processed do not have to be stored in a refrigerator until they are opened. The practice of selling them there is actually due to the fact that grocery stores can count on an increase in sales of over 60% when they refrigerate them for the customer.
Okay, so how about the Naked’s, Boat House and other “cold pressed” juices out there? Well, cold pressed means that they have maintained more of their nutrient content (so that’s a bonus), however, if you look over a bottle of carrot juice, you’ll find that a single bottle (typically 2 actual servings) contains about 42 grams of sugar! When sugar is what you are trying to minimize / eliminate to remain healthy or lose that extra 10 lbs, some carrot sticks might be a better way to go. See the actual food (ie. carrot sticks) have the natural sugars, it’s not that the cold pressed juice people have added sugar into the juice, but the actual food also has fiber which helps to slow the absorption of the sugar and maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
The next time you go to grab one of these so called “healthy” beverages, make sure you’ve done your research and understand that they may just move you away from your goals rather than towards them.
Not a day goes by that someone doesn’t ask me if there is a “healthy” protein or snack bar they can just grab instead of having to make their snacks. Sadly, the answer is no. If you truly want that last 10 lbs gone, you’re gonna have to take the high road and do it by the book. It doesn’t matter what you call them, granola bars, cereal bars, protein bars, etc. They all contain far more sugar, additives and preservatives than the body needs and not nearly the amount of nutrition the body needs. Now, on a side note, if you are traveling and have no other food but happen to have one of these saved in the car, then yes, I’d rather you eat that than nothing. However, if eaten on a daily basis, you will begin to see the scale tipping in the opposite direction that you’d like. Even a small amount of sugar eaten daily can sabatoge you. If you were going to use these as a post workout snack, then yes, a protein bar would be your best bet (ie. luna bars, cliff bars) but you would still want to ensure that you have chosen the “best of the best” and compared all of the labels. I recommend that my clients limit these to 2 max per week and focus more on whole, unprocessed post workout meals rather than trying to cram in some sub par quality snack.
“Wait…what?? Remember that you said fruit was good for me earlier in this post?” Yes, I did, but all good things can be overdone. With fruit there is a fine balance. Not only should you balance your macronutrients to provide the body with the best pallette of nutrition but we need to limit the fruit during that balance. For most people wanting to live healthy lives, 0 to 2 servings daily is all that is needed. Fruit has natural sugars within and those natural sugars can be just as harmful to our healthy living goals as candy bars. Why? Because our bodies treat all sugars the same. If they aren’t used in time, they will be stored and typically the sugars choose your fat cells to live in. By limited our intake, our body won’t be overwhelmed with the amount, you’ll be more likely to burn it off and the balance of foods you are eating will help to balance out the absorption.
What about dried fruit? When fruit is dehydrated, the water is taken out but that actually causes the sugars to become more condensed. This actually causes a worse blood sugar reaction than just the regular fruit because much like juice without the fiber, condensed sugar is like eating a tablespoon of sugar without anything else. I typically advise people who really enjoy their dried fruit to keep it to 1 to 2 servings per week but it has to be at the end of a balanced meal and they have to drink an entire extra bottle of water with that meal in order to dilute the sugar again.
When you read over these things, they may seem a bit scary at first to try but believe it or not, those who do limit or eliminate these foods and drinks from their diet not only increase the odds in their favor to lose that extra 10 lbs but achieve a whole new level of health. If I were you, I’d give it a try.