Archive | October, 2012

The Weighty Issue of Holiday Sugar

29 Oct

The end of October treats us with Halloween and its bevy of refined sugar-laden demons. Thanksgiving looms on the horizon and we enter December during a period of reduced activity in which we may have gained a few pounds. If we’re not careful through the coming holidays, the sugar demons will haunt us well into the new-year. Through November, Pumpkin and persimmon pies, cookies and other baked goods have been consumed in pleasure, but to avoid going Jan Ullrich this winter, the best thing an athlete can do is limit the amount of sugar we eat through the holidays.

Recent statistics indicate that Americans gain 7-10 lbs through the holidays. This weight gain is due in large part to refined sugar. Home, party, and office snacks like fudge, cookies, and candy canes beckon the sweet tooth in us all. Add to this the high amount of refined sugar found in every day foods like cereal, pasta sauce, and even Doritos and you begin to understand why sugar is to blame.

Excess sugar in the body forces the metabolism to spend all its energy burning the extra sugar rather than burning fat. As fat accumulates, our midsections begin jiggling like bowls of jelly. All jiggling aside, however, refined sugars wreak even more havoc to our interior. Refined sugar creates an acidic condition that consumes the body’s minerals (sodium potassium and MAGNESIUM), thus weakening the digestive system so that food is not properly assimilated, in turn creating weak blood (reduced oxygen transport), blood-sugar imbalances, and further sugar cravings. (Ever wondered why you cramp at the end of long road races? Perhaps excess sugar has led to an acidic state within you).

But what exactly does all that interior strife mean? Consuming excess sugar has been linked to obesity, hypoglycemia, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, anemia, immune deficiency, tooth decay and bone loss. Multiple studies have illustrated sugar contributes to herpes, yeast infections, cancer, menstrual problems and male impotence, just to name a few.

The best way to avoid such calamity is to continue your indoor workout routine. Make it a point to visit Brooks Integrative Training classes regularly through the holiday season. When tempted by holiday treats, enjoy them in moderation, sampling a small portion here and there, but refrain from indulging in every snack you encounter. Instead, complement your diet with such natural sweeteners as barley malt, maple syrup, rice syrup, or fruit. Sweeten your coffee or tea with Stevia, a Brazilian herb ground into a fine powder that is 400 times sweeter than sugar, but creates none of the adverse side effects associated with sugar.

Consider drinking a protein shake between meals. Protein works in harmony with the pancreas to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, thus fending off sugar cravings.  Finally, drink plenty of water. Maintaining a stomach full of water will help offset “the munchies.” By snacking smart through the holiday season, you won’t be haunted by sugar demons when it comes time to make those new years resolutions.