What Happens When You Eat Too Much Sugar

Have you heard that sugar is bad for you?  There is a lot of science now to back up what happens when you have too much sugar.  Let’s start off by talking about how the body deals with sugar.

When I am referring to sugar, I am not just talking about the white powder so let’s define exactly what I am referring to.  Everything that you eat breaks down into glucose (sugar) with the exception of meat or fat.  This includes foods like baked goods, crackers, fruit and fruit juice, cereals, vegetables, bread and so on.  It’s quite surprising how much sugar is in some foods that you wouldn’t think is high sugar like BBQ sauce and ketchup.   Soda pop is a killer for sugar.  It is 95% sugar!  In fact, one can of pop has about 16 teaspoons of sugar in it!  Candy is pure sugar as is some dried fruit.  And don’t be fooled by fruit.  Yes it is healthy for you and has lots of great immune boosting properties but it is still sugar so this is a case where it is appropriate to say the phrase that ‘too much of a good thing is bad’.  Juice is worse.  How much juice do you get when you squeeze one orange?  Not much.  So a full glass of orange juice is not only pure sugar but because you aren’t eating the whole fruit, you are losing the fiber which makes it much higher on the glycemic index.  It gets absorbed immediately in the blood stream and spikes your insulin very quickly.

Glucose is the number one source of energy for our bodies however overconsumption of glucose can wreak havoc.  Your insulin spikes to regulate your blood sugar.  Once you eat glucose, your body releases insulin, a hormone from your pancreas.  The insulin’s job is to absorb the excess glucose in the blood and stabilize sugar levels.  Today on average people are eating around 32 teaspoons of sugar every day.  A little sugar in your coffee, cereal for breakfast with a glass of juice, a sandwich for lunch and potatoes for dinner and you have over consumed sugar for the day.  This doesn’t include the dessert you ate or the mid-day or evening snacks.  It’s really not that hard to do.  For one day, count how many grams of sugar you eat.  You will be surprised how much you eat because most of us don’t think of the bread or potatoes as sugar.

What’s even more disturbing is that people are consuming excessive sugar in the form of fructose or high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). This highly processed form of sugar is cheaper yet 20 percent sweeter than regular table sugar, which is why many food and beverage manufacturers decided to use it for their products, as it would allow them to save money in the long run.  The bad news is that the human body is not made to consume excessive amounts of sugar, especially in the form of fructose. In fact, your body metabolizes fructose differently than sugar. It is actually a “hepatotoxin” and is metabolized directly into fat!

Some other devastating effects of too much sugar, particularly fructose in your diet include: liver damage (more so than alcohol), fools your metabolism by turning off your body’s appetite-control system, causes metabolic dysfunction, increases uric acid levels, causes diabetes and heart issues.

Sugar is addicting too.  The more sugar you eat the more you crave.  It takes only 48-72 hours to eliminate your cravings for sugar once you cut it out and you will gain a huge amount of energy.  I strongly recommend that you follow my low carb regime and not only will you lose weight, you will protect yourself from all of the damage that excess sugar will cause and you will feel so much better.

What Exactly is Ketosis and is it Good or Bad For Me?

When you eat carbohydrates, they break down into glucose which is the main source of fuel for your bodies.  If however you eat very few carbs and only moderate amounts of protein (excess protein can be converted to blood sugar), your body will look for alternate ways to get energy from and it starts to produce ketones.  Ketones are produced in the liver, from fat. They are then used as fuel in the body, including the brain. This is important because the brain is a hungry organ that consumes lots of energy every day.  It’s a common misconception that the brain needs carbs. The truth is that the brain happily burns carbs when you eat them. But if you don’t eat too many carbs, the brain is happy to burn ketones instead.  Your body cannot run on fat alone, it can only run on glucose…or ketones.

On a ketogenic diet your entire body switches its fuel supply to run almost entirely on fat.  Insulin levels become very low and fat burning increases dramatically. It becomes easy to access your fat stores to burn them off.  This is obviously great if you’re trying to lose weight, and studies show that ketogenic diets lead to more weight loss.  Being in ketosis also reduces hunger and cravings so you lose weight effortlessly and even reverse type 2 diabetes.  Also, by giving your body and brain an almost unlimited supply of energy, you can increase your physical and mental endurance.

Some people think that ketosis is extremely dangerous.  However, they might be confusing ketosis with ketoacidosis, which is completely different.  While ketoacidosis is a serious condition caused by uncontrolled diabetes, ketosis is a natural metabolic state.  In fact, ketosis and ketogenic diets have been studied extensively and shown to be very safe for long periods of time.

So how do you get your body into ketosis?  Cut the carbs!  Remember that everything, with the exception of meat and fat, is a carb which breaks down into glucose.  So how many carbs per day can you eat and still get into ketosis?  Approximately 20-50 NET carbs.  NET carbs are not the same as TOTAL carbs.  For example, fiber is a carb but the human body doesn’t absorb and it requires no insulin to metabolize and thus it has no glycemic response, so we subtract it from the total carb.  So if your bread has 30g total carbs but 5g of fiber, the net carb is only 25g.  You would be amazed at how many carbs you are eating if you are not counting or cutting them.  Other carbs that have no glycemic effect are sugar alcohols (xylitol, sorbitol, maltitol etc) which are used as a calorie free sugar substitute.

It is important to check your ketone levels by using Ketone sticks or “ketostix”.  You can get them in the drug stores.  You pee on the stick and it turns a color.  Basically the more ketones that are in the burning, the darker red-purple the stick will turn.  There is a chart on the bottle so you see if you are burning negative, small, medium or large.  If you are negative, you are not in ketosis and are not burning fat this way.  This is the best way to know if you are eating too many carbs or not eating enough good fats.  I find when I add MCT oil, I burn larger, faster.  You can put the MCT oil (which comes from coconut oil) in your shakes, drizzle it on steamed veggies or use it for your salad dressing with vinegar and spices.

So, get into ketosis…it’s good for you!

Appetite Control and Leptin

Appetite Control and Leptin

Leptin, the “satiety hormone”, discovered in just 1994 is a hormone made by fat cells that helps to regulate hunger.  After you eat, leptin is released into the bloodstream where it travels to the brain telling you to stop eating because you’re full.  Without leptin we could continue to eat until we explode.  Some people have what’s called leptin resistance where the brain is unable to pick up its signals causing mindless eating and overeating.  It’s also a cycle where the more you eat, the more engorged your fat cells, and the greater the risk of worsening your leptin resistance because it is your fat cells that make this hormone.  The more you gain, the more sensitive your body becomes to leptin.  Leptin resistance is associated with certain other medical conditions, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, thyroid issues, and elevated triglycerides in the bloodstream.  Leptin’s main role is long-term regulation of energy balance… the amount of calories we eat and expend, and how much fat we store on our bodies

People with leptin resistance may find that they have frequent or even constant cravings or feelings of hunger. Researchers are still working to fully understand and develop effective treatments for leptin resistance, but for now, controlling cravings is the key to combating the effects of this condition.  If you’re eating lots of sugar/carbs, or if you’re very stressed or sleep deprived, you’re more likely to feel like you have an appetite you just can’t satisfy. To beat your cravings, protein and fiber are the keys as they both keep you very full for a long time.

Reversing Leptin Resistance:  How do you know if you’re leptin resistant?  There is no set blood test done to determine leptin levels. The best test to do to determine if you are leptin resistant is to look in the mirror.  If you have a lot of body fat, especially in the belly area then you are almost certainly leptin resistant.  Leptin resistance occurs years before insulin resistance and full blown diabetes.

So what can we do?  The low carb, gluten free diet will help you tremendously!

  • Cut out grains, refined sugars and processed foods and replace them with “slow burn” foods like protein and fats so you avoid leptin spikes that cause leptin resistance
  • Increase the good fats in your diet including avocados, coconut oil, MCT oil, fish oils, butter, ghee and olive oil. Take 2,000mg-3,000mg Omega 3 (fish oils)
  • Avoid processed foods
  • Increase fiber in your diet. I recommend taking fiber supplements 30 minutes before each meal
  • Always have protein with each meal
  • Eat 3 meals per day and not snacking all day stabilizes leptin levels and avoids spikes
  • Exercise like resistance training increases leptin sensitivity so the signals can reach your brain that you’re full
  • Reduce your stress levels and get plenty of sleep

So here is yet another reason to follow a low carb, gluten free lifestyle.  Eating real low carb/sugar food, exercising and sleeping well are all lifelong endeavours that require a shift in lifestyle.

Coffee: Is it good or bad?

So What’s the Scoop?  Is caffeine good for you or bad for you?

Every single day billions of people wake up to caffeine.  There’s a Tim Hortons on every corner and Starbucks is not far behind.  We spend billions of dollars on coffee not only to wake us up and give us energy but because it tastes great!  Nowadays, 80% of the world’s population consumes a caffeinated product each day, and this number goes up to 90% for adults in North America.  Personally I cannot have caffeine.  I am very, very sensitive to it.  If I have just a little, my world is spinning, my heart is beating out of my chest and I feel like I am fighting fainting.  BUT I LOVE COFFEE and so like everyone else, I still drink it but I drink only decaf.

How does caffeine work in the body?  According to Authority Nutrition “Once consumed, caffeine is quickly absorbed from the gut into the bloodstream.  From there, it travels to the liver and is broken down into compounds that can affect the function of various organs.  Caffeine’s main effect is on the brain.  It functions by blocking the effects of adenosine, which is a neurotransmitter that relaxes the brain and makes you feel tired.  Normally, adenosine levels build up over the day, making you increasingly more tired and causing you to want to go to sleep.  Caffeine helps you stay awake by connecting to adenosine receptors in the brain without activating them. This blocks the effects of adenosine, leading to reduced tiredness.  It may also increase blood adrenaline levels and increase brain activity of the neurotransmitters dopamine and norepinephrine.  This combination further stimulates the brain and promotes a state of arousal, alertness and focus. Because it affects your brain, caffeine is often referred to as a psychoactive drug.  Additionally, caffeine tends to exert its effects quickly. For instance, the amount found in one cup of coffee can take as little as 20 minutes to reach the bloodstream and about one hour to reach full effectiveness.”

So let’s go through the good and the bad about caffeine

The Good:

  • Very high in anti-oxidants
  • Increases energy
  • Better alertness
  • Aids in weight loss
  • Enhance exercise performance
  • Boosts mood
  • Helps bowels with elimination
  • Supports gut health

Newer Studies Show That Caffeine May:

  • Decrease risk for heart disease and stroke
  • Helps to manage symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease
  • Wards off type II diabetes
  • Prevents gallstones
  • Liver protective
  • Cancer protective (due to the anti-oxidant value)

The Bad:

  • Could cause anxiousness
  • Could cause nausea
  • May reduce risk of Multiple Sclerosis
  • Reduce the risk of developing gout
  • Aids in longevity
  • Highly addictive
  • Headaches and migraines when weaning off caffeine
  • Trouble sleeping

The studies are still on-going.  The bottom line is, enjoy your coffee or caffeine laden beverages but don’t over-do it.

What is Syndrome X?

What is Syndrome X?

Well it USED to be called Syndrome X but now it is called Metabolic Syndrome.  According to the American Heart Association, 47 million Americans have it. That’s almost a staggering one out of every six people. This syndrome runs in families and is more common among African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans. The risks of developing metabolic syndrome increases as you age.  So what is it?

Metabolic syndrome is not a disease in itself. Instead, it’s a group of risk factors, including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, unhealthy cholesterol levels (of good and bad), and abdominal fat.  Obviously, having any one of these risk factors isn’t good. But when they’re combined, they set the stage for serious problems. These risk factors double your risk of blood vessel and heart disease, which can lead to heart attacks and strokes and they increase your risk of diabetes by five times!

The complications that may result from metabolic syndrome are frequently serious and long-term (chronic). They include: hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), diabetes, heart attack, kidney disease, stroke, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, peripheral artery disease and cardiovascular disease.

If diabetes develops, you may be at risk for additional health complications, including: eye damage (retinopathy), nerve damage (neuropathy), kidney disease and amputation of limbs.

The good news is that metabolic syndrome can be controlled, largely with changes to your lifestyle!  I know you know what lifestyle I am talking about.  There are so many scientific studies now regarding the low carb diet that you cannot dispute the positive health effects by following this lifestyle including fast weight loss, reduced hunger, insulin and blood sugar control, lower risk of heart disease, reduced risk for certain types of cancer and the list goes on.  So, if you have been told that you have metabolic syndrome, why not try it?  It is so easy if you just keep an open mind and be creative.  My blog is to make the transition easier with all of the amazing low carb (and gluten free) recipes as well as all of the tips available.  Scroll down to one of my original posts where I give you the rules of following a low carb diet.  It’s one thing to cut your carbs but if you really need to lose weight or have any health issues mentioned above, you need to stick to the rules closely.  Let me know your thoughts!

Remedies for Blood Sugar Issues

Top Remedies for Blood Sugar Issues

Do you have blood sugar issues?  Hypoglycemia, Pre-diabetes or diabetes?  As you know by now I am a big advocate of the low carb lifestyle.  Why?  If we eat too much sugar or high-glycemic carbohydrates (white rice, cakes, crackers, bread, potatoes and cookies), we experience a rapid influx of blood sugar. Our body must rush in to compensate with a spike of insulin to take care of the sudden overabundance of glucose, leaving us tired and irritable from the yo-yo effect.   Keeping your blood sugars balanced is one of the most important steps you can take for overall health and vitality as well as weight control. Besides eating a wholesome diet rich in low-glycemic whole fruits, vegetables, protein, and complex carbohydrates, you can optimize your blood sugar levels by including supplements that promote glucose balance.

Check out the top remedies to help you control your blood sugar levels.

  1. Chromium: The best form of this trace mineral is chromium picolinate. Chromium can normalize blood sugar levels, improve blood sugar utilization and decrease insulin requirements in people with glucose intolerance and insulin resistance.
  2. Alpha-Lipoic Acid (ALA): Not only is ALA a very potent anti-oxidant, it enhances insulin sensitivity
  3. Banaba Leaf Extract: Banaba leaf contains corosolic acid that helps transport glucose from the blood into cells for use as energy
  4. Cinnamon: Cinnamon is a powerful antioxidant and works to improve blood glucose by slowing stomach emptying after meals and enhancing insulin sensitivity
  5. Fenugreek: Fenugreek supports balanced blood sugar levels by slowing digestion and carbohydrate absorption. Fenugreek may also stimulate insulin production due to an abundance of amino acids
  6. Gymnema Sylvestre: Gymnema Sylvestre normalizes blood sugar by increasing insulin levels, reducing glucose absorption, and improving sugar uptake
  7. Magnesium: Magnesium increases insulin sensitivity and supports healthy glucose levels

Low carb, low carb, low carb.  Sugar is clearly the culprit to blood sugar issues.  By following a low carb diet you will not have the blood sugar spikes that carbohydrates cause.  It’s really not hard.  It’s simply a matter of being a little creative with your diet and opting not to eat potatoes, pasta, rice and bread.  These are the biggest culprits to name a few.  As much as fruit is healthy for you, it is not good for blood sugars to limit fruit to no more than 1-2 per day and stick with the low glycemic choices like berries.

What Can I Eat on a Low Carb Diet and What Should I Avoid?

The one thing I quickly realized when following a low carb diet is to BE PREPARED!  A lot of us (including me) are lazy cooks.  If my husband isn’t cooking for me I would tend to open a can of tuna and have a tuna sandwich.  It’s simple, easy and fast and quite filling for me.  So, now my husband and I will cook a turkey on the weekend and then I will clean it up and boil the bones to make turkey soup.  So now I have cold turkey for my salads and soup which I just have to re-heat all week.  My soups are just meat and veggies and sometimes black beans.  I never add potatoes or rice to keep the carbs lower.  We will cook chicken and do the same thing as turkey.

The other things we prepare for the week are boiled eggs, cut up veggies and lettuce.  So, when I am hungry (and lazy or busy) I can simply put a salad together, eat soup or have some boiled eggs with cold veggies.  I use MCT oil and balsamic vinegar for my salad dressings and veggie dips with some spices.  So, what exactly should I be eating when following a low carb diet?

  • Meat – all types of beef, pork, chicken, lamb etc.
  • Fish – all types especially those high in Omega 3 such as salmon, mussels, tuna, and sardines
  • Chicken – skin on, free range
  • Vegetables – all types that grown above the ground. Leafy greens, spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, avocados, mushrooms, lettuce.  Stay away from root veggies, the ones that grow in the dirt
  • Cheese – choose the full fat varieties.
  • Cream – full fat, double, whipping.
  • Full fat milk – avoid all flavored milks and avoid any milk in large quantities because even though it may only contain 5% carbs, it is easy to drink a 250ml serving which equates to 12.5g carbs.
  • Nuts and seeds – a great snack but just watch not to overindulge as they still have a fair amount of carbs
  • Eggs – choose free range if you can
  • Fats – use butter, olive oil, coconut oil (high in oleic acid), lard, MCT oil

Foods to Avoid:

  • All processed sugar drinks – pop, juice, energy drinks, anything with sugar and carbs
  • All cakes, biscuits, jams, sweets.
  • All cereals – most cereal contains anywhere from 50%-80% carbs. No wonder they are known as CEREAL KILLERS!!!
  • Bread, pasta, potatoes, sugar etc. There is little nutritional value in these foods and they are loaded in carbs
  • Fruit is something that should be limited because of the high fructose content. It is natures candy. Yes fruit has vitamins and healthy nutrients, but you will be getting far more nutrients from your increase veggie intake. Choose nutrient dense, low carb fruits such as berries. Fruit such as pineapple, mango, and especially dried fruits, should be avoided. Also avoid ALL fruit juices. They have an incredibly high glycemic index, which will make your insulin spike (and start storing fat again). “If you are overweight, fruit is not your friend”.
  • All wheat products have a high glycemic index, raise your blood sugar and increase appetite
  • Grains avoid all grains including wheat, oats, barley, spelt etc.
  • Pasta  is extremely high in carbohydrates and has almost no nutritional value
  • Starchy vegetables if you can tolerate some carbs, choose highly coloured starchy vegetables such as pumpkin, carrots, beetroot or sweet potato for their wonderful phytonutrients and vitamins.
  • Rice very little nutritional value. Generally used to bulk out a meal. Try substituting rice for more vegetables or check out cauliflower rice recipes
  • Rice crackers these are almost 80% carbs and incredibly processed, especially the flavored ones. Avoid.
  • Diet or low fat products check the labels and you will see how processed they are and how much higher in carbs they are compared to their regular version e.g, low fat cream cheese can be up to 15% carbs, whereas the regular is only4%