By: Nick Thomas
The basics of a good clean diet have to include the correct intake of sugar. Sugar is a huge issue in food today. It is important to know the truth and how best to apply what has been learned.
Good sugars naturally occur in foods, bad sugars are added. Taste buds cannot tell the difference between naturally occurring sugars, which are found in foods such as fruit and dairy products, and added sugars, which manufacturers add to foods such as soda and candy. From a nutritional standpoint, there is a big difference between these sugar sources. Foods that contain naturally occurring sugar tend to be nutrient-rich, providing more nutrition per bite. Foods that have added sugars have little to no nutritional value, simply being empty calories that provide no benefit to our bodies.
Roughly 5% of daily intake should consist of added sugars. A very active lifestyle and/or regular exercise is maintained by some sugar in the diet which helps supply ready energy to fuel muscles and keep the brain active. The biggest issue most have with this is the number of processed foods which are consumed. Being hyper-aware of clever marketing and not trusting what is on the front of packages but actually reading the nutrition facts is key.
Look at the carbs as sugars on the nutrition label. This will include both natural and added sugars. Less than 5g per 100g is low, more than 22.5g per 100 is high. Check the ingredients list for glucose, sucrose, fructose, lactose, maltose, etc. These are all forms of sugar as are honey, agave, molasses, and syrups (corn & rice). The higher up the ingredients list these are, the more sugar the product contains.
A basic rule is to stick to the exterior of the grocery store aisles, choosing mostly fresh foods. The less processed, the less bad sugar. However, when buying from those interior aisles, it is best to avoid products labeled “sugar-free” they tend to contain artificial sweeteners like sucralose, saccharin, and aspartame.
Keep carbs in check; things like white bread, rice, and pasta will contain more of those processed, bad sugars. Replace these with wholegrain options and balance this all out with lean proteins such as fish, chicken, and turkey which will help prevent extreme cravings due to slower digestion.
Cutting sugar out of your daily routine will not be without struggle. The body has to adjust like it does to breaking any other addiction. Drink tons of water during this time. A dull headache may be experienced and cravings will most definitely be an issue! Go cold turkey and fight through it or have a few ounces of pure fruit juice to help. The symptoms will only last a few days, and soon life will be experienced with more mental clarity and potentially the loss of a few unwanted pounds.
By: Nick Thomas
owner of Prime Performance Training, and Certified Sports Nutritionist