One of the biggest questions I receive when discussing nutrition with anyone, athlete or general public, is what’s the deal with sugars and fats?
Do I cut them out completely? Are fruit sugars good for you? What about the fat in avocados? Doesn’t fat make you fat?
This week we will be working on clarifying what kind of Sugars and Fats can be in a healthy diet and what should be eliminated.
1. What is sugar?
Seems like a silly question, but in general I receive a lot of comments of confusion surrounding sugar. So let's clear this up using some good ole scientific definitions.
The term sugar is the generic term for any disaccharides (e.g. sucrose) and monosaccharides (e.g. fructose, glucose). Sugars are essential structural component of living cells and source of energy in many organisms. Sugars are classified based on the number of monosaccharide units present. The monosaccharides join to form more complex sugars, e.g. disachharides (e.g. sucrose).
Ok, so that gives us some terms to start playing with.
Glucose, Fructose, and Sucrose.
Glucose is a monosaccharide and the bodies preferred energy source. Another name for Glucose is blood sugar, because it circulates in the blood stream and uses certain enzymes to initiate metabolism. Insulin is released in direct correlation to glucose level. And guess what, everything you eat turns to glucose, which is great, because without glucose, we would die.
Common Forms of Glucose-Grains, fruits and veggies contain glucose. Unlike fruits and veggies (which also contain fructose), pure grains contain glucose only.
Fructose is found in fruits and vegetables, and added to various beverages such as soda and fruit-flavored drinks. It is very different from other sugars because it metabolizes in a different way and is not the preferred energy source for muscles or the brain. Fructose is only metabolized in the liver. It is also more fat-producing than glucose. And unlike glucose it does not cause insulin to be released or stimulate production of leptin, a key hormone for regulating energy intake and expenditure. Fructose appears to behave more like fat in the body than like other carbohydrates.
Common Forms of Fructose-Sweet Fruits, Fruit Juices, Carbonated beverages.
Sucrose commonly known as table sugar, is derived from sugar cane or sugar beets. Fruits and vegetables also naturally contain sucrose. When sucrose is consumed the body separate it into the individual sugar units of glucose and fructose. The body responds to the glucose content of the meal in its usual manner; however, fructose uptake occurs at the same time. The body will use glucose as its main energy source and the extra energy from fructose, if not needed, will be put into fat creation, which is stimulated by the insulin released in response to glucose.
Common Forms of Sucrose-Extracted Sugars including beet and cane. Syrups.
So, if you look at the differences, than you see that you want your foods to turn into Glucose as often as possible.
As an endurance athlete I am huge fan of sugar. Usually before or in the middle of a long workout when I know I’ll need the quick energy and that my body will use it instead of turning it into fat.
And quality ice cream, much like pizza, is a must in my diet, but in its right place and amount. Moderation is key!
Your first Transformative Tool for this week is to determine your main source of sugar. If you see that you have a heavy amount of Fructose in your cupboard, start substituting those foods for Glucose Foods. And the more fiber in your diet, the slower that sugar will be absorbed and the longer you will sustain your energy.
**Absolutely No Sugar Substitutes/Artificial Sweeteners! Those may taste sweet and promise zero calories, but they have been linked to a slew of health risks.
2. Fat is not a dirty word!
If I can instill one fact for you to keep with you always it’s this: Fat does not make you fat! Or at least no more than anything else. Much like sugar, fat is vital to our being alive. It is used by your body to form hormones, build cell walls, and aid in digesting fat soluble nutrients. And like sugars, different fats are derived and processed in different ways.
So how do you know what fats to enjoy and which to evict from your pantry? I’m going to break it down.
The Bad-Trans Fats, also known as hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oil. Stay FAR away from this. Trans Fats have undergone a chemical process to make liquid oils into a solid substance. This keeps the oils from going rancid. Trans Fats increases the amount of LDL Cholesterol which is linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. Thankfully the FDA now requires food manufacturers to label if their foods contain trans fats. This has led to a decline in available trans fats foods. Yay!
The Better-Saturated Fats. Controversy surrounds the support of saturated fats, but in my opinion they have their place, in moderation of course. They are linked with a total driving up of cholesterol (both HDL and LDL) and if given a choice of fats I would be more inclined towards Mono- or Polyunsaturated fats, but a sprinkling of saturated fats every once in awhile is not going to send you over the edge.
Common Forms of Saturated Fats-Cheese, Milk, Red Meat, Commercially Prepared Baked Goods.
The Best-Monounsaturated and Polyunsaturated Fats. That’s a mouthful! And you don’t have to worry about eating a mouthful of these fats!
A study conducted in Greece and the Mediterranean region revealed that the people in that area had a low rate of heart disease despite their high fat diets. That’s because the fat they were consuming was olive oil, a monounsaturated fat. Further investigation has now linked monounsaturated fats with a healthy heart!
Common Forms of Monounsaturated Fats-Olive Oil, Nuts, Avocados.
Polyunsaturated fats are essential fats, meaning we need them to conduct the processes of our body but we can’t make them ourselves, so we must eat them. There are two main types of polyunsaturated fats: omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids. Polyunsaturated fats are used to build cell membranes and the myelin sheath surrounding the nerves. They are needed for blood clotting, muscle movement, and inflammation. Eating higher amounts of Polyunsaturated fats over Saturated or Trans Fats has been shown to improve the overall cholesterol profile!
Common Forms of Omega 3-fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines, flaxseeds, walnuts, canola oil, and unhydrogenated soybean oil.
Common Forms of Omega 6-vegetable oils such as safflower, soybean, sunflower, walnut, and corn oils.
Your second Transformative Tool for this week is to determine your main source of fats. Completely get rid of anything that has Trans Fats and replace with the above options of Mono- and Polyunsaturated Fats and perhaps a light smattering of Saturated Fats.
A few more tips for your Nutrition Transformation:
Don’t obsess. Read the information and change one thing at a time. I once read that 1 bad meal won’t ruin your diet, but 1 good meal won’t fix it. It’s about consistency.
Start looking at the artificial stuff, like the substitute sweeteners and trans fats, as poison. Because that’s what they are.
I did not create this recipe and have included the web address for the source of this recipe.
This pie is a crowd pleaser across the board!
If you are a vegan, you can substitute the honey for agave nectar.
The Straight Up Truth
I am here to help you succeed and support your journey. But you are the one in control. You are the one who has to commit to transforming your life! The work is on you. But if you do the work, if you commit, together, we can uncover your fullest potential!
Are you ready?
Let's do this thing!
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The medical and/or nutritional information on this site is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read on this Web site.