The ULTIMATE Guide to Giving Up Sugar

You may have stumbled upon this article because you want to give up sugar or maybe you have read some recent news about the dangers of high levels of sugar in the American diet. Maybe you are just confused to no end about sugar (it has 50 names – what’s healthy and whats not? Sugar IS natural RIGHT? ) Or maybe, if you are like me, you find that for some reason your body craves sugary foods- and before you know it, you are craving sugary foods at every meal and are over eating. If you struggle with weight loss or are wrestling with those last few pounds and feel like you have tried everything, this IS the article for YOU!

So why give up sugar anyway and is it really THAT big of a deal? I could write it all down, but honestly this video does a better job at breaking everything down than I ever could.

THE SIGNS

The truth is, you may not need to give up sugar all together… ever. If you are one of those people throw your hands up in the air and thank God, Buddha or whatever may have you, because you are truly a lucky few.

For everyone else, here are some indications that you should consider giving up sugar or at least take steps toward it:

  • You are overweight and tend to binge on sugary-carb foods (ex: cookies, pastries, brownies, pancakes, cereal, pizza, subs)
  • You eat healthy during the day but overeat at night; many times after eating dessert or you may crave desserts after eating a dinner that is laden with refined carbohydrates (breads, pizza, pasta…etc)
  • You feel like you are always hungry.
  • After eating something sweet, you feel more hungry and feel like you are never satisfied/full.
  • You wake up in the morning and feel like you can’t wait to have your first meal.
  • You feel lethargic about 2 hours after eating lunch everyday

The more questions you answered YES to, the more likely that you are actually sensitive to (or developing a resistance to) insulin.

You can also take this quiz {HERE}

WAIT. I thought we were talking about sugar here?

Well, Eating Sugar => Insulin Release => Spike in Blood Glucose. If your not sure about the relationship, please watch the video above.

We already know that sugar is a widespread health concern (just google it!), but why do some people seem to struggle more than others?

 The answer is genetic (thanks mom!) and yes, it’s all about insulin.

As Paul Eastwood writes in his recent article titled, Insulin Sensitivity: Why You Can’t Blast That Fat For Good!:

Few health and fitness professionals know or understand Insulin sensitivity (IS) which is why its no wonder that the every day man or woman is finding weight and fat so difficult to lose; it’s incredibly hard to win against an obstacle you don’t know is there...Insulin sensitivity will eventually replace the term “weight loss” and “fat loss” as the new hot topic.

– bodybuilding.com

If your still not convinced that insulin resistance/sensitivity may be the reason you can’t lose belly fat/fat all over then consider this statement by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases:

“Some experts believe obesity, especially excess fat around the waist, is a primary cause of insulin resistance. Scientists used to think that fat tissue functioned solely as energy storage. However, studies have shown that belly fat produces hormones and other substances that can cause serious health problems such as insulin resistance, high blood pressure, imbalanced cholesterol, and cardiovascular disease.”

– niddk.nih.gov

It’s important to recognize right now that you are not a failure if you struggle with binge eating. I think that if more people understood (and that includes personal trainers and health professionals) insulin resistance and how it is brought on by sugar and refined carbs we could give better advice and realize its not just about calories in VS calories out. People aren’t robots.

The ANSWER:

Well, the answer is simple, but the process is not. Basically, you need omit refined sugars and carbs from your diet and limit glucose spiking foods. This is when the Glycemic Index can come in very handy. If you decide to omit refined sugar (remember this does not mean the percentage of sugar on the food label but look in the ingredients list!), you will most likely consume some alternative sweetened products. First, I would try to limit these as you transition. After a few days once you really crave something sweet, make sure you reach for something that is a 0 or 1 on the Glycemic Index.

For example: Maltodextrin = 110, Sugar (glucose) = 100, Honey = 50, Maple Syrup = 54, Erythritol = 1, Stevia = 0 CHECK OUT THIS LINK FOR MORE

If you are like most, giving up sugar and refined carbs may sound daunting. Here’s my simplified plan:

choose food

HOW TO GIVE UP SUGAR TWO WAYS

#1

This is for those that are overweight, are addicted to sugar and eat sugary refined carbs at almost every meal. You may be pre-diabetic or have developed insulin resistance. Your typical day might look like this:

______________________________________________________

Breakfast: Cereal/Pancakes/French Toast + Coffee with Coffee Mate Flavor

Lunch: Sandwich/Burger/Pizza/Fries/Chips

Starbucks?? 

Dinner: Meat and Veggie with Bread + Dessert + Alcohol + more food if hungry

______________________________________________________

IF this is you, it will take a bit more time, but being gradual is KEY! Each week, omit sugar  from each meal. I would start with breakfast and save the toughest, Dinner, for last.

PLAN:

WEEK 1 : Replace breads and sugars with a breakfast rich in protein and veggies to keep you full. DO NOT WORRY ABOUT EATING ONLY EGG WHITES. This is stupid… I’m not going to go into that right now. Just eat the whole $%#@ egg!!! TRY THIS RECIPE

WEEK 2: Replace Lunch with the same formula: Protein + Veggies. You can have little carbs here but they HAVE to be low on the GI. Try: beans, sweet potato, quinoa etc. TRY THESE

WEEK 3: Time to tackle the BEAST. This is the toughest one, but it is so, so worth it! Allow yourself your typical dinner: Meat + Veggie + Starch (Preferably not bread and ONLY whole wheat pasta. If you feel like you are going to gorge yourself on whole wheat pasta, then don’t make it.) Alcohol needs to be red/white wine and not a sweet one. (Moscato is out!) Also, this needs to be limited to 1-2 glasses. Replace all desserts with fruit only this week. (My favorite is frozen grapes or blueberries!)

WEEK 4: Maintain. You may start to crave sweets this week. Allow yourself something sweetened with stevia. I like quest bars or try this Cheesecake Recipe! Also, 3 Ingredient Cookies! 

#2

This is for those 80/20ers or people who already watch their refined carbs and sugars, yet fall off the bandwagon in the evenings. You are probably not overweight, but are wanting to get a leaner physique for athletic/personal goals.

I recommend this article: Insulin Sensitivity: Why You Can’t Blast That Fat For Good!

There are a few reasons you may be falling off the bandwagon at night:

  1. Too few calories during the day
  2. Not enough carbs
  3. Trigger Foods at Dinner (dessert or alcohol)

If you really want to get over this hump you have to be 100% committed. Make sure you’ve calculated your Basal Metabolic Rate Correctly and know the amount of calories to consume and lose weight. For example: If you’re only eating 500 calories by dinner, this is not enough.

For Life

This is a life long commitment. If you go through all the hard work to get this far, don’t sabotage it by going back to old habits. Remember, if you want something you’ve never had, you’ve got to do something you’ve never done. If you notice sugar creeping back into your diet, go back to working on each meal one at a time. Enjoy the occasional sweets during celebrations, but don’t make it a habit!

WARNING: THESE FOODS Have Hidden SUGAR! BE CAREFUL

Granola/Cereal/Oatmeal

Yogurt

Coffee Creamer (just use half & half)

LASTLY, you may be wondering…

Can I EVER have food that is high on the Glycemic Index? 

YES. Foods that spike insulin have their purpose for prolonged physical activity. Marathoners, climbers, bikers…etc can and should consume sugary carbohydrates to increase energy, alertness and avoid fatigue. For example Energy Gels, Clif Bars, Dried Fruit and Sports Beans. If you are fueling during endurance activity, glucose can be your best friend. If you really want a donut THAT bad – my advice is to earn it with exercise. There’s a good chance too, that your body will not react the same to these foods as it did before. Don’t be surprised if you immediately feel sick!

WHAT about BEER?? 

I add this question because I’m a beer lover and this matters to me, and I have a feeling it matters to many others out there. Beer is sugar free, yet high in carbs. (The sweeter, and higher the ABV, the higher the calories. The color of the beer doesn’t matter) Beware of ciders which are even higher in carbs and calories and typically sweet. When you are trying to break away from sugar, skip the beer for now. Remember, beer has no nutritional purpose  – your body recognizes alcohol as a toxin and it will not help you achieve any goals, except maybe working up the confidence to talk to that sexy girl/guy at the bar. Once you’ve feel confident you are in control of your eating, earn your beer with exercise. There is nothing better that an ice cold brew after a race or climb day! Cheers!

In closing,

Most people with insulin resistance don’t know they have it for many years—until they develop type 2 diabetes, a serious, lifelong disease. The good news is that if people learn they have insulin resistance early on, they can often prevent or delay diabetes by making changes to their lifestyle.” (niddk.nih.gov)

There’s hope for us all!!!

If you would like accountability in an online group with more structure go {{HERE}}

  • And lastly, a fun little visual to pin and share! Post this and share your commitment to go sugar free for 3 weeks!

sugar 1

 

 

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