Lesson 2 leads us nicely onto Public Enemy no.1 at the moment: sugars.
Sugars are what are known as ‘empty calories’ (alcohol’s another). Sugars are not used as fuel for our muscles, do not repair tissue and contain no vitamins or minerals to aid general health. We therefore do not need them. Sugars raise blood glucose concentration, which causes the release of insulin in order to lower the spike. Insulin breaks down and converts the sugar into glycogen, which is then stored. This storing process is what we call fat; it’s basically the formation of extra tissue onto our bodies because we can’t break it down for fuel. All refined sugars are converted into fat.
So no sugars right? Well, no not necessarily. We all like sugar but we need to be careful. We should look to reward ourselves with high sugar products and not include them as part of our regular diet plan. By following a diet plan that avoids sugar for the majority of the time we will be able to prevent weight gain. For someone looking to lose weight I would advise one or two sources of refined sugar (sweets, cakes, biscuits) a week. And only eating natural sugar (fruits) directly before or after high intensity exercise.
But sadly sugars aren’t the only component of our nutrition we need to limit. Burgers, pizza, bacon and kebabs are very low in sugar but are high in saturated fats and contain carbohydrates that have a huge glycemic index.
Saturated fats are basically what makes these foods high in calories; they are like viscous blocks of oil that are tied to food which, like sugar, are hard for our bodies to break down. And like sugars or alcohol, we don’t really need them, so as you might have guessed- saturated fats make us fat. Foods high in saturated fats in fact simply skip the insulin stuff and are converted directly into glycogen, which develops into adipose or fat deposits.
Training is 20%, nutrition is 80%
Now then, the aforementioned high glycemic index values of these foods. It’s behind the reason why most fitness fanatics don’t buy white bread. And while most people know that wholegrain bread is better for you than white bread, they don’t really know why. It’s all to do with this g.i value. White bread, rice and pasta have a higher g.i value than their brown or wholegrain alternatives. A higher g.i value food acts in a similar way to sugar: they cause a spike in blood glucose concentrations and result in the release of insulin and, well, you know the rest. We get fat.
Again we need to limit these foods in our meals. One looking to shed the pounds should avoid white carbs entirely, and only rewarding themselves with one helping a week.
Weight loss is simple: avoid the bad stuff and eat the good stuff. If we limit our sugar, saturated fat and high g.i carbs and exercise correctly and regularly we will see improvement. The extent to which you limit these foods will determine your results. My recommendation is for people to follow a rule of a ‘free’ meal or two a week. One high in g.i foods (chips) and/or one high in sugar (chocolate) and/or one high in saturated fats (cheese).
To conclude, in the first three lessons we’ve covered the following key points:
- Be careful with blind faith in calories- they are misleading
- We don’t need to ‘diet’ just change our lifestyle and the way we think of foods
- Look at labels (Carbohydrates, of which sugars- keep it under 3g)
- Consider everything you eat- is it high in any of the three factors mentioned?
- Be strict when rewarding- the more you reward yourself, the smaller the difference your hard training will make
- Training is 20%, nutrition is 80%
So, what do we eat in the meantime?
For clean meals I shall be regularly posting recipe ideas, which contain meal ideas with foods low in all three factors but are still tasty and are cuisines that we can enjoy.
In the meantime, be sure to check out my breakfast article!