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Sugar- The Silent Killer (part 1)

Following on from a successful journey into INBA Worlds in Dubai having coached myself from 20weeks out and reaching my best condition yet, I gratefully and humbly received Medals in all three Categories that I entered.  2nd Place Fitness Model, 3RD Place Ms Fitness and 4th place in Bikini Fitness.
My first taste of indulgence Post-competition was some chocolate/yogurt covered rice cakes which I ate during my 12 hours back stage in-between competition rounds…bliss, they had never tasted so good, it had been a good six weeks since replacing my once a week cheat meal and dessert with a blander Nandos or salad from Café Vienna.
I love food, I love Carbs, I love cookies! One thing I’ve learnt about myself is that If I take the one cookie then I’ll be battling against eating the whole pack!! Or If I eat the little penny size ginger biscuit served with my Americano  in the local café then there’s a good chance I’ll be buying a whole pack from Spinneys on the way home!  And as you’ve seen from a few statuses any Patchi gift I buy as a gift DOES NOT actually make it to the person!! Or even home for that matter!
So I’ve had some time to relax and indulge.  It’s been amazingly satisfying, it’s been delicious, it’s been so nice to be able to indulge in a coffee and cake with friends, Cheesecake Factory with my partner, some granola breakfast with my clients.  To eat as much as I want, when I want and whatever I want has been bliss!
My plan was to have three days of indulging…. so why is it that 3 days turns into 4, then 5, then 6, then 7 then before you know it it’s Day 10.  By now feeling disgusting, bloated, NOT lean, very slouchy, and no energy to train! Wheres all my willpower gone?
I wholeheartedly know and believe that as much as I love my food and my naughty treats NOTHING feels better than a clean eating lifestyle, small regular meals, optimum energy levels, clear skin, healthy bowels, feeling lean, light and full of energy.  So why was it so hard to get back into daily habits and not crave a cookie!? Or a latte!? Three weeks later after vowing to myself that I am back to usual habits tomorrow, I find myself at the Pavilion Buffet eating cheese on biscuits and croissants!
                                                                           SUGAR – The Silent killer!
Why do we label it so harshly? What affect does it have on our bodies? How much of it do we really consume?
Why do we crave it? How can we control our intake? What about sweeteners? Sugar free foods? natural sugar in fruits?
The above questions are commonly asked by clients or riders.  What we don’t know about sugar is pretty devastating news to our sweet craving taste buds!!  I’ve summed up the answers briefly and simply in a 3-part blog.  If, through reading this blog over the next few weeks helps even ONE person overcome the power, effect and control that Sugar has in their life then it will be worth it.
We all love it, we all eat it.  Sugar makes us happy, content, whether we add a little sweet as dessert following our evening meal, or whether it’s a bit of Birthday cake at parties, with a coffee during formal meetings, or in the staff room at break-time, it adds a great taste to even the blandest of foods, including our good old weetabix in the morning or in our morning beverage from Caribou.  Oh and of course not to forget the one or two alcohol beverages we neck down every Weekend(or evening for some!)
It brings a sudden urge of energy, ideal before a rugby game or Flywheel class, it gives you that pick-me-up when you feel a little down and grumpy and it tastes soooo sooo good!!!!   We often find ourselves trapped in the Sugar cycle and some of us have never been able to break free of that vicious Cycle.  Some people go through their whole life being controlled and addicted to sugar.
The American Heart Association’s recommended sugar levels per day are 5 teaspoons for women (20 grams); 9 teaspoons for men (36 grams); and 3 teaspoons (12 grams) for children.
I have coached hundreds of clients in the last ten years and witnessed the numerous attempts and struggles to cut out sugar and follow a healthy eating plan (involving unrefined and slower releasing carbohydrates)
I often hear the words ‘I don’t eat much sugar’ from clients, before evaluating their current diet diary’s to find that they are just under or over 100 teaspoons a week!
For reference, a can of soda generally contains up to 12 grams of sugar; a single slice of whole wheat bread contains up to 2 teaspoons of added sugars.
Most of us don’t realise how much we may consume through the day.
This Greek yogurt for instance With a portion of blueberry or strawberry contains 16g of sugar! Which means as a female (only needing 20grams) there is only 1 teaspoon left To stay within the recommendations!
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Or take this bowl of kids cereal 56% of it is sugar, so in a serving bowl of 27g (who has as little as 27g?!) there is 15g of sugar.
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Next week we will delve more into hidden sugars. Eg barbecue sauce is 38% sugar.  It’s everywhere because it preserves food for longer and makes it taste nicer.
During my Precision Nutrition Studies, the Case Studies that took most of my interest were involving Sugar on Health.  Here are just a few shocking facts and statistics found in research;
-The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2007 state that sugar (fructose) is causing an epidemic in hypertension, obesity and the metabolic syndrome, diabetes, kidney disease and cardiovascular disease.
-The American Heart Association conference, it was reported by Harvard Researchers that 180,000 obesity related deaths world-wide are the cause of sugary drinks.
-British Journal of Nutrition states that sugar is involved in the increased prevalence in metabolic diseases.
-University of Bordeaux researchers stated that ‘The most dangerous drug of the times’, causing a rapid high followed by intense cravings.  It has a bigger impact than hard drugs on the brain: refined sugar is four times more addictive than cocaine.
-Journal of Nature found that sugar contributes to an appalling 35m annual death worldwide.
-Body Ecology , after years of research and many years of experience of the positive and negative of food tells us that sugar is a dangerous poison.
-An average person consumes 700g of sugar in a week (140 teaspoons) (this is CRAZY!!!)
(Reaching 67kg a year, this is way more than our bodies are able to handle)
 
What happens when we eat sugar?
I think it’s important to understand what happens when we eat sugar, and what happens when we eat too much of it. Sugar enters the blood stream in a form of glucose, glucose triggers excess insulin production from the pancreas to deal with the glucose, increasing energy levels, and causing a skyrocket in blood sugar!  Your body starts having a field day! Science shows it takes just 30 minutes or less to go from a sugar rush to a full-on sugar crash (hypoglycaemia)  This sugar spike-and-crash sets you up to ‘I WANT MORE SUGAR!’—a vicious cycle.   Unfortunately, the more often this process takes place (the more sugar you consume), the more severe the blood sugar spike is, and the more insulin is required. This means it becomes easier and easier to skip using sugar as energy, and go straight to extra insulin and fat storage.  Too much sugar causes your body to go on a roller coaster ride of ups and downs…and your moods often follow.  If you’ve been wondering what causes that headache, fatigue or constant craving for more sweet snacks then I think we have found the culprit.
I’ve always eaten a daily diet generally low in refined carbohydrates, that was until I met Ollie Turton my other half! Now depending on your genetic predisposition your body may be better equipped to using sugar as energy, or you may be more likely to store it as fat.  Just as one person may have a fast metabolism and one may have a slower metabolism, well Mr Turton (who needs 5,500kcals just for maintenance) has an incredibly fast metabolism, and sugar only enhances his beautiful aestheticly pleasing physique.  Moments after consuming our weekly cheesecake from the cheesecake factory, he has a smile as big as a pirate ships, pulsating veins and pumped biceps and abs that men could only envy.  Me on the other hand, just looking at the cheesecake would added those extra pounds to my buttocks!  I can honestly say life with Ollie turton and his huge consumption of food has become my biggest challenge in maintaining a low body fat!
So how can we cut down on our sugar intake? How can we break free from the addiction of constantly needing sugar? How can we free ourselves from the sugar cycle? I’ve struggled with it many times and have learnt the best ways to overcome these challenges and lead a healthier lifestyle as a result.  Having PCOS condition really does not help, and makes things even more of a struggle (but I will be sharing a blog on PCOS soon) everything I have learnt over the years about nutrition in my rugby performance, nutrition for my body image and nutrition for my optimum health as well as my continuous studying and experience with clients over the last ten years has enabled me to completely change the lives of others.  Its my passion and it makes me so happy that I can help others overcome the same challenges.
Next week I will be delving more into hidden sugars, Sweetners (The Silent Killers Evil Twin!), Sugar-free foods and drinks, and Fruit as a Sugar… 
Tip  for the week; 
Be more aware of your sugar consumption over the scope of the day by reading your labels, if it tastes too sweet to be good for you it probably is!
Best
Rhian