Tag Archives: sugar

12 Days of Fitness 2019: Day 7 – The First 5 Things Nutritionists Will Tell You To Cut From Your Diet

(This is part 7 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

We can all agree that restrictive diets are a total drag. Plus, they’ve been proven to be detrimental to our health in the long run. For our sanity, it’s important to enjoy what we eat, and registered dietitians insist that most foods are fine in moderation. That said, “there are some foods that provide minimal nutritional benefits that we should limit or avoid,” says Vandana Sheth, RD, CDE, spokesperson for the Academy Of Nutrition and Dietetics. So how can you begin phasing them out? Angela Ginn-Meadow, RD, LDN, CDE, and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says that it’s a gradual process: Start by eating that food less often, then cut down the portion size when you do eat it. Finally, sub in a healthier option. The bottom line is that healthy eating is about being mindful and aware of what you’re consuming. Here are the 5 foods registered dietitians say you should totally nix from your diet.

  • Sugary Beverages “Beverages with added sugar are one of the easiest things we can cut from our diets,” says Ginn-Meadow. The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than 6 teaspoons (about 24 grams) of sugar a day, and men no more than 9 teaspoons. To give some perspective, one 20 oz. lemon-lime soda has a whopping 77 grams of sugar—more than triple the recommended daily amount. Sheth adds that fancy coffee drinks can also be total sugar bombs that add up quickly. Before you know it, you may consume 400-900 calories and 10-15 teaspoons of sugar from that white chocolate mocha.
  • Sweetened Cereals According to Sheth, sweet cereals and flavored instant oatmeal are packed with added sugars and typically made from refined grains, which contain minimal fiber. Instead, enjoy whole grain cereal or old-fashioned oats with fresh fruit.
  • Processed Meats You may want to think twice about bringing home that bacon. According to a 2010 Harvard University study, processed meats including bacon, ham, and hot dogs have been shown to increase the risk of heart disease by 42% and the risk of diabetes by 19%. Additionally, research has linked sodium nitrate—a preservative found in these foods—to cancer.
  • Ingredients You Can’t Pronounce No idea what that ingredient list says? “Put it back on the shelf,” says Ginn-Meadow. And especially be on the lookout for artificial coloring and added preservatives, which don’t add any nutritional value. Plus, research has shown that some food dyes are toxic, which ups the risk of various health concerns. Best to steer clear.
  • Trans Fat “Trans fat increases your overall cholesterol, lowers your ‘good cholesterol,’ and raises your ‘bad cholesterol,'” says Ginn-Meadow. In short, according to research by McMaster University, trans fat has been linked to a greater risk of “early death and heart disease.” Foods that contain trans fat include shortening, prepackaged biscuits, store-bought pie crusts and cookies, and packaged frozen meals.

Sounds like common sense, right?

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

See you tomorrow for Day 8 of the 12 Days of Fitness!

Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day #16 Tips for Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain
Day #2 – Cholesterol Myths You Need to Stop Believing
Day #3 – Festively Fit: Staying Fit Over the Holidays
Day #410 Fitness Myths That Need to Die
Day #59 Ways to Trick Yourself Into Feeling Full
Day #6The Cult Of Supplements And The Dangers Of Multi-Level Marketing

12 Days of Fitness: Day 10 – Insulin and Insulin Resistance

(This is part 10 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

Question. Can you name a hormone other than thyroid that warrants a lot of attention. Give up? How about insulin? You’ve heard of it before but do you really understand it’s role, how it works, and it’s significance? If you do you’re probably one of the few but the number is growing of Americans who are impacted by insulin everyday. And if you haven’t best pay attention as you will want to know.

The Importance of Insulin

Insulin is an important hormone that controls many processes in the body. It is a hormone secreted by an organ called the pancreas. Its main role is to regulate the amount of nutrients circulating in the bloodstream. Although insulin is mostly implicated in blood sugar management, it also affects fat and protein metabolism. When we eat a meal that contains carbohydrates the amount of blood sugar in the bloodstream increases. This is sensed by the cells in the pancreas, which then release insulin into the blood. Then insulin travels around the bloodstream, telling the body’s cells that they should pick up sugar from the blood. This leads to reduced amounts of sugar in the blood, and puts it where it is intended to go, into the cells for use or storage. This is important, because high amounts of sugar in the blood can have toxic effects, causing severe harm and potentially leading to death if untreated. Problems with this hormone are at the heart of many modern health conditions.

The Issue With Insulin Resistance

Sometimes our cells stop responding to insulin like they are supposed to. This condition is termed insulin resistance, and is incredibly and unfortunately common. When this happens, the pancreas starts producing even more insulin to bring the blood sugar levels down. This leads to high insulin levels in the blood, called hyperinsulinemia. This may continue to develop for a long time. The cells become increasingly more insulin resistant, and both insulin and blood sugar levels go up. Eventually, the pancreas may not be able to keep up anymore and the cells in the pancreas may become damaged. This leads to decreased insulin production, so now there are low amounts of insulin and cells that don’t respond to the little insulin that is available. This can lead to skyrocketing blood sugar levels. When blood sugar levels exceed a certain threshold, a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes is made. The good news is that insulin resistance can be dramatically improved with simple lifestyle measures.

What Causes Insulin Resistance?

There are many potential causes and contributors to insulin resistance. Some of those found in the research include:

  • Increased amount of fats in the blood (circulating trigylcerides).
  • Having increased visceral fat, the dangerous belly fat that builds up around the organs
  • A high intake of fructose (from added sugar, not fruit)
  • Increased oxidative stress and inflammation in the body
  • Physical inactivity
  • Bacterial environment in the gut can cause inflammation that exacerbates insulin resistance
  • Overeating and increased body fat, especially in the belly area.

The Good News

The good thing about insulin resistance is that it is very easy to influence it. In fact, you can often completely reverse insulin resistance by changing your lifestyle. Here are several evidence-based ways to reduce insulin resistance:

  • Exercise
  • Lose belly fat
  • Stop smoking
  • Reduce your intake of added sugars, especially from sugar-sweetened beverages.
  • Eating a healthy diet based mostly on whole, unprocessed foods.
  • Improving quality of sleep
  • Manage your stress levels

Insulin resistance may be one of the key drivers of many (if not most) of today’s chronic diseases, which are collectively killing millions of people every year. The good news is that it can be significantly improved with simple lifestyle measures, such as losing fat, eating healthy food and exercising. Preventing insulin resistance may be among the single most powerful things you can do to live a longer, healthier and happier life.

See you tomorrow for Day 11 of the 12 Days of Fitness

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.


Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:


Day #1 – Weight Loss Once and For All
Day #2 – 10 Pieces of Equipment Everyone Needs to Work Out at Home
Day #3 – Are You Afraid of Eating Fruit?
Day #4 – Healthy Foods?
Day #5 – 21 Ways to Combat Emotional Eating
Day #6 – 8 Reasons Why Your Workout is Failing You
Day #7 – The Problem With Added Sugars
Day #8Dieting Made Simple
Day #9 – The Best Exercise You’re Probably Not Doing

12 Days of Fitness 2018: Day 3 – Are You Afraid Of Eating Fruit?

(This is part 3 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful health and fitness tips over the holiday season)

Let me cut right to the chase with this one. This is one of the most ridiculous things I ever heard. People who won’t eat fruit because it has too much sugar! Really? Ok. Then show me someone who became obese from eating too much fruit?  Better yet, let me save you the time (basically you won’t find anyone) and really get into this fruity dilemma. This crazy idea that fruit is somehow a bad thing to eat came into full swing with the low carb diet craze a few years ago. The terrible thing is that the myth still persists.

Yes, There Is Sugar In in Fruit

I guess the best way to start is to say that sugar isn’t inherently bad for you. Too much of it is, specifically the wrong kind. There is natural sugar (i.e. the sugar in fruit) and there is added sugar (the culprit of all bad things). The body doesn’t differentiate between the natural and added sugars but the sugar in fruit offers so much more than the natural sugar it contains – including water, vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytonutrients (those naturally-occurring plant compounds that have wide ranging beneficial effects on the body). The idea that fruit is “loaded with carbs” or is “full of sugar” needs to be clarified too. It’s true that when you eat fruit, the overwhelming majority of the calories you consume are supplied by carbohydrate – mostly in the form of fructose, which is the natural sugar in fruit. That however is the nature not just of fruit, but of all plant foods – they’re predominantly carbohydrate and that means not just natural sugars, but healthy starches as well as structural elements, like cellulose, that provide fiber. When you eat vegetables, the majority of the calories you’re eating come from carbohydrate, too. But you don’t hear people complaining that vegetables are “loaded with carbs”.

But What About the Carbs?

Before you go assigning foods as being loaded with sugar, or too high in carbs, consider not only the amount of sugar or carbs you’re eating, but the form of the carbohydrate, too. There’s a big difference between the nutritional value of the natural carbohydrates found in fruits and other plant foods: sugars, starches and fibers, and what is in, or not in, the empty calories we eat from added sugars that are literally everywhere.

How The Body Processes Sugar (Carbs)

A very important part to understand is that your body favors carbohydrates as a fuel source. When you eat them, enzymes in your digestive system break them down into their simplest possible form: sugar. Complex carbs, sometimes called starches, have complicated molecules that can take some time to break down. Simple carbs, or sugars, are easy to break down, if they need breaking down at all. Either way, the carbs you eat all become sugars called glucose, at which point they enter your bloodstream. At this point, your pancreas releases the hormone insulin, which does a few things with this blood sugar. The key to avoiding blood sugar spikes is tempering your carb intake with other foods that slow absorption. Fat and protein help to some degree, but the best way to slow absorption is with fiber, which are carbs so complex that your body can’t digest them, so they slow the digestion of the carbs around them, causing the sugar to enter your blood at a slow drip. This is one reason why high-fiber foods are considered a healthier option. They help you avoid blood sugar spikes. Fruit, in general, tends to be fiber-rich, making the sugar content irrelevant.

Can I Eat Too Much Fruit?

Of course, it is possible to take in too much of a good thing. Moderation is the key with any food. There are all kinds of incredibly healthful foods that can be overeaten, from seeds and nuts to salmon and avocados. Point is to always question who and where you get your knowledge. It can be all the difference.

See you tomorrow for Day 4 of the 12 Days of Fitness

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.


Just in case, here’s what you might have missed:

Day #1 – Weight Loss Once and For All
Day #2 – 10 Pieces of Equipment Everyone Needs to Work Out at Home

12 Days of Fitness 2015: Day 3 – The Many Names of Sugar

(This is Part 3 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful blurbs and  tips to keep your fitness in focus over the holiday season)

download (1)Sugar has gotten a really bad rap of recent…and deservedly so. For decades the finger was pointed at fat as the enemy; then it was carbs (which is the group sugars belong to); protein has many fingers pointed as well. Yes all things in moderation is the credo-defacto but added sugar may be the single unhealthiest ingredient in the modern diet.

On average, Americans eat about 15 teaspoons of added sugar (sugar added to food to enhance flavor, texture, shelf life or other properties, usually a mixture of simple sugars such as glucose, fructose or sucrose) each day. Most of this is hidden within processed foods, so people don’t even realize they’re eating it. All this sugar has been found to be a key factor in several major illnesses, including heart disease and diabetes and it is everywhere! The problem is, it has so many monikers that even the most health conscience person is potentially blinded by the enormity of its availability. Here are 56 examples of proof:

  1. Agave Nectar
  2. Barley malt
  3. Beet sugar
  4. Blackstrap molasses
  5. Brown rice syrup
  6. Brown sugar
  7. Buttered syrup
  8. Cane juice crystals
  9. Cane sugar
  10. Caramel
  11. Carob syrup
  12. Castor sugar
  13. Coconut sugar
  14. Confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar)
  15. Corn syrup
  16. Corn syrup solids
  17. Crystalline fructose
  18. Fructose
  19. Date sugar
  20. Demerara sugar
  21. Dextrin
  22. Dextrose
  23. Diastatic malt
  24. D-ribose
  25. Ethyl maltol
  26. Evaporated cane juice
  27. Florida crystals
  28. Fruit juice
  29. Fruit juice concentrate
  30. Galactose
  31. Glucose
  32. Glucose solids
  33. Golden sugar
  34. Golden syrup
  35. Grape sugar
  36. High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS)
  37. Honey
  38. Icing sugar
  39. Invert sugar
  40. Lactose
  41. Malt syrup
  42. Maltodextrin
  43. Maltose
  44. Maple syrup
  45. Molasses
  46. Muscovado sugar
  47. Panela sugar
  48. Raw sugar
  49. Refiner’s syrup
  50. Rice syrup
  51. Sorghum syrup
  52. Sucanat
  53. Sugar / Sucrose.
  54. Treacle sugar
  55. Turbinado sugar
  56. Yellow sugar

See you tomorrow for Day 4 of the 12 Days of Fitness.


Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

Day 1 – Chew Your Food
Day 2 – Fitness for the Road


Your Nutrition Isn’t That Bad

healthy-familyBefore you read too much into the title of this article, let me first explain I haven’t the faintest clue about how or what you eat but like the recent headlines, apparently neither do they. Nutrition has taken a beating this week in the news: processed meat causes cancer; sugar is toxic. The endless cycle repeats of what’s good to eat, what to avoid eating, and what to eat more of as the media spreads more propaganda based on shoddy research and ratings grabbing attention. While I whole heartedly agree that processed meats aren’t the best choice nor is copious amounts of sugar, it is more than apparent that we have a calorie surplus issue. But the problem isn’t that we’re unaware of the issue. The real problem is that we’ve just become so diluted in our knowledge of separating nutritional fact versus nutritional fiction that we just don’t have a clue about what are we supposed to eat. The result: too many experts; too much information; too many blind followers; too many faux products; no solution to a worsening problem.

Correlation is Not Causation

We’re a desperate society, wanting results now and/or blaming someone or something else for not achieving them. When that route hits a brick wall, it’s easier to just believe and buy into the thought that if X causes Y then it must cause Z. For example, smoking is correlated with, but not the single cause of lung cancer. You have a better chance of developing lung cancer if you smoke but there are many factors that potentially cause lung cancer. Eating more than you burn is correlated with weight gain, but there are several factors that can cause weight gain that have nothing to do with calories consumed. It’s an important distinction to make and one that will serve you well when making healthy food choices. Chances are you probably do make good choices. Question is how often and how consistent are you with making those choices.

Everything is Processed

Unless you live on and off your own farm, everything on your plate has had some degree of processing. The movement of “clean eating” is a good thing and isn’t too far-fetched for it emphasizes eating whole, real foods as close to their natural state as possible. A simple, common sense idea that’s hard to argue or disagree with in theory. When the report came out earlier in the week about processed meat causing cancer what they were really referring to is meat that is treated, handled, or consumed in a highly processed state with numerous salts, chemicals, nitrates, etc. such as bacon, ham, lunch meats, etc. Well here’s the part the media forgot to mention. Of the 8.2 million deaths from cancer in 2012, only 34,000 were attributed to consumption of processed meat. You have a better chance dying in a car crash (10.7 for every 100,000 drivers). Some bacon at breakfast or ham during the holidays certainly isn’t going to be the stake to the grave. It’s a bit more involved than that.

Insulin and Insulin Resistance

There are hundreds of hormones in the body each with its own purpose and function, none of which is more popular than insulin and rightly so. Insulin is an anabolic (or growth) hormone with the primary responsibility of being the feeder or transport of energy to all of our living cells. Without sufficient insulin (Type 1 diabetes) or an inefficient insulin mechanism (Type 2 diabetes) in which the cells don’t respond to or are resistant to the insulin markers thus staving off energy to the cells. This overtime leads to elevated blood sugar levels (not good for the body) and the gradual increase of adipose (fat) tissue. (also not good for the body). The very important concept here (and often taken out of context) is that elevated blood sugar levels can happen from several factors, most of which (and preventable) are caused by dietary influences. High intake of sugar is generally to blame, and not just added sugar but simple carbohydrates that are easily converted to sugar thus raising the insulin response levels. Long story short, while there’s plenty of data to show the effects of certain foods on raising insulin levels, a nationwide hysteria grew that carbohydrates are bad for you, spawning fear of literally thousands of types of foods, everything from breads to pastas and beyond. Fruits and vegetables are carbohydrates too but no one said a thing about decreasing their intake. So before you banish all “carbs” from your existence, the important concept to remember here is how your blood sugar levels respond (a simple blood test will determine that for you) correlates to any weight loss or weight gain issues, and not what the guru in the book or on TV has to say.

Common Sense

The subject of nutrition is very gray, not as black and white as some would have you believe. Why? Because we are all different and don’t consume and process food the same way whether here in the good ol US of A or the Far East reaches of the world. Food is fuel and fuel is energy. We need to eat and variety as well as moderation is the spice of life. There is food that is healthier to consume in larger quantities and there is food that is better consumed in lower quantities. Chances are as previously stated, you’re nutrition is probably not all that bad. It’s senseless to make yourself crazy on eating a particular food item or group just because it was correlated to cause unfavorable outcomes. There are thousands of things that can be correlated to just about anything with never being the cause. Not eating snacks or sweets doesn’t necessarily make you a healthier eater any more than an occasional adult beverage makes you an alcoholic. Do yourself a favor and don’t get fooled by media sensationalism.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

12 Days of Fitness 2012 – Day 8: Artificial Sweeteners 101

(This is Part 8 of a 12 part series to provide you with some helpful fitness tips over the holiday season)

I wanted to talk to you today about artificial sweeteners because it’s been my experience over the years that there’s a lot of confusion and misconceptions revolving around these non-caloric sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners and the huge list of products sweetened with them are marketed to you relentlessly as “diet foods”, “healthy foods” or “healthier” than sugar or corn syrup sweetened products. But are they really? Here are some of the most popular artificial sweeteners on the market today are:

  • Splenda (sucralose)
  • Aspartame
  • Saccharine
  • Acesulfame Potassium (aka – acesulfame K)

These artificial sweeteners are used in abundance in almost every “diet” drink, “lite” yogurts, puddings, and ice creams, most “low-carb” products, and almost all “reduced-sugar” products. And for you muscle minded folks, even most protein powders are loaded with artificial sweeteners too.

Not So Healthy

Splenda is probably one of the worst offenders of them all claiming to be “healthy” as they say that it’s made from real sugar. Don’t be fooled! It’s still an artificial substance. What they don’t tell you is that Splenda is actually a chemically modified substance where chlorine is added to the chemical structure, making it more similar to a chlorinated pesticide than something we should be eating or drinking. The truth is that artificial sweeteners are not even close to being healthy, and as you’ll discover in a minute, can easily be just as bad for you, if not worse, than sugar or even corn syrup. Most people think that they are doing something good for themselves by choosing the “diet” or “lite” brands compared to the full sugar-laden versions, but the problem is that you’re exposing yourself to a whole new set of problems with the artificially sweetened drinks and foods. The fact is, artificial sweeteners vs. sugar or corn syrup is really just a battle between two evils. Which evil is worse?

The Truth Behind The Science

Most of us are at least familiar with the problems associated with sugar or high fructose corn syrup sweetened products. The excess empty calories, blood sugar spike, and resulting insulin surge this creates in your body not only promotes fat gain, but also stimulates your appetite further, making things even worse. On the other hand, artificial sweeteners may save you on calories, but there’s growing evidence that they can increase your appetite for sweets and other carbohydrates causing you to eat more later in the day anyway. Therefore, you don’t really save any calories at all. Also, studies have shown that artificial sweeteners can stimulate high insulin levels in your body too, which again can promote fat storage.

All of the 4 artificial sweeteners listed above are nasty chemicals that the human body is simply not meant to ingest. However, most of us are ingesting a whole lot of these chemicals on a daily basis. Aside from the problems I touched on so far, other health issues that have been related to artificial sweeteners in scientific studies as well as observations are:

  • some have been linked to potential cancer risks
  • negative effects on the liver, kidneys, and other organs
  • stimulating cravings
  • gastrointestinal problems
  • developmental problems in children and fetuses
  • headaches

Consequently, some of the above potential health problems have not been proven as fact in human studies. However, some of them have been shown conclusively in animal studies given high doses. Despite all of the health issues potentially associated with artificial sweeteners, the companies that sell the products will continue to claim that they are fully safe and they have studies that prove that they are safe. The bottom line is that the body was not designed to deal with foreign substances like artificial sweeteners.

A Sweet Alternative

Your best alternatives? Well for starters, real raw sugar in moderation. There’s also raw honey, organic maple syrup. All three actually provide some nutrients and antioxidants as well as sweetness, so it’s not just empty calories. Empty calories stimulate your appetite more because your body is lacking nutrients.

And if calories still concern you, there’s a natural sweetener called stevia. Stevia is not artificial like the other chemical sweeteners I mentioned above. It is a natural non-caloric herb grown in South America and when dried into a powder, has a sweetness about 200-300 times stronger than sugar.

So in a world where sugar is bad, it’s still superior to any artificial, chemically enhanced substance that could possibly do more harm to your body internally than any number you ever see on the scale.  I have a better solution for that. It’s called exercise!

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.

See you tomorrow for Day 9 of the 12 Days of Fitness

My 2012 Fitness Challenge personal update – 35,100 push ups done as of publishing time




Sugar, Oh How Sweet It Isn’t!

w1NAvR51K1pe_e_uxPNWaDl72eJkfbmt4t8yenImKBVvK0kTmF0xjctABnaLJIm9Some people like salt; others like sweet.  While I’m not really opposed to either, I’m generally more of a sweet tooth. Sugar in my coffee, sweet tea, and while not really a candy fan, desserts can be planned around for at meals.  But over the years my tastes have changed and as my knowledge of nutrition continues to grow, things don’t necessarily need or seem to be as sweet.

Sugar Is A Drug

When you mention the word drug, a few things come to mind. You could be referring to a prescription written by a doctor or you could be referring to one of any substances used to elevate your present state of mind.  The word could also be used to describe anything that enhances or changes the state of things to the point of addiction, like exercise for some. But rarely if ever is food, the very sustenance that keeps us alive, described as a drug.  For those that have an unfortunate issue with food being “drug-like”, this is a reality.  However, for the millions who were raised and thought that fat was the enemy, low and behold we have fallen into the trap of a substance that has snuck below the radar for years and had us eating out of the wrong hand per se until now.  The enemy or drug is sugar.

What Does The Research Say?

Back in the 1970s, government agencies joined forces and mandated that fat consumption needed to be drastically reduced in the American diet to stave off heart disease and numerous other ailments. The good news is that as a population fat consumption decreased. The bad news – very bad news – is that heart disease and related illness skyrocketed to epidemic proportions. The culprit? Sugar.  While sugar intake had dropped in the 1970s, an alarming trend of increased intake of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) began. HFCS and sugar are the same thing to our bodies metabolically (they’re both sugar) but HFCS became cheaper and more efficient for the food industry to produce for the fat that was being taken out of food.  The result? More intake of sugar that we’re genetically programmed to be “addicted” to – fructose.

According to Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist from the University of California – San Francisco, there is nothing in nature that isn’t sweetened by fructose that is harmful to us.  It is in essence nature’s way of alerting us to food that is safe and healthy to eat. The problem is that in America’s diet, or what is referred to often as the Western Diet, there is fructose everywhere minus the real nutrition it generally accompanies (vitamins, minerals, fiber, etc.) such as in a piece of fruit.  Dr. Robert Atkins, most notably recognized as the creator of the infamous Atkins’s Diet, had shown in his research the negative effects of sugar on our metabolisms. While most want to look at his diets and say Atkins was all about eating all meat and no carbohydrates, his research clearly began what the new research is discovering further – that sugar is harmful to the body particularly when it is consumed in any unnatural state (i.e. candies). And because of its almost programmed “good for the body means more is better” quality, we have almost (some have) developed an addiction to having more to satiate our inability to feel satisfied.

What Can You Do?

Obesity, Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease had all previously been linked to a bad diet full of saturated fat.  New research reported in a recent 60 minutes segment is proving that all of these health conditions are 75% preventable by limiting sugar intake. The recommendations are 150 calories for men (or approximately 38 grams) for added sugar per day and 100 calories (approximately 25 grams) for women per day. That equates to only one 12 ounce soft drink per day. But when you exclude the obvious offenders like candy or other sweets, sugar is a bigger part of our diet than most realize.  Breads, condiments, juices, yogurts, processed foods, etc. all contain added sugars.  Consume fresh, whole foods as often as possible and if you must eat a packaged food item, ignore the marketing on the package and learn to read labels more thoroughly and examine the ingredient list.  Sugars take all kinds of monikers, from words ending in “ose” or “ol” and “dextrin” or syrups of any kind.  Sugar is sugar and whether a 100 calorie pack or a banana, the sugar is the ultimate enemyy.

You can also view Dr. Lustig’s lecture on YouTube titled “Sugar – The Bitter Truth” to learn more and perhaps rethink the way you eat.  I know I have.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.


My 2012 Fitness Challenge personal update – 17,000 push ups done as of publishing time.


Energy Bars – Tricks or Treats?

multigrain_energybarEven before I was a fitness professional and really appreciated the negative effects of sugar, I was never a huge candy fan. But that didn’t keep me from enjoying Halloween and it’s funny now to think back and remember that the worst homes to trick or treat were the ones that gave out the healthiest treats (i.e. fruits, nuts, etc.) Sure, I enjoy the occasional treat every once and awhile but most of the “bars” I might consume today are of the “nutritional bar” variety. Do “energy bars” have a place in your dietary landscape and are they really that much better for you? Let’s take a closer look.

The 100 Million Dollar Bar

The “energy bar” industry is big business and can be broken down into bars classified as nutrition bars, meal replacements, weight loss aids, diet bars, protein bars, etc., as well as ergogenic, or performance enhancing bars. No matter what your goal, there is a bar for you.  Some stores have complete sections of nothing but bars and if there’s one in particular you like, chances are you can buy it in bulk at your local warehouse store. Bars are sold on the premise of convenience, portability, and quality (they’re the best option when nothing else is around – or my translation, you were ill prepared). There are literally hundreds to choose from and making a healthy choice can be nerve racking. And despite what the marketing and labeling of the bar will tell you, chances are you’d best be advised to re-evaluate your goal and see if consuming something much closer to a Snickers bar has any room in your plan, or waistline.

It’s Not A Perfect World

The problem with bars is that they are sold as or part of some programs as a regular staple of a daily diet.  That should never be the case. Controlling your caloric intake should go way beyond the dependence on chocolate covered 20 ingredient chewiness. Most are an ingredient shy, a few grams of sugar less, but more vitamins and minerals than a candy bar. In a major pinch, sometimes a bar will be the best option if quality nutrition isn’t around or available. So how do you know which one is best for you in your time of need?

  • Check the ingredients.  As with all food label reading, the proof is in the ingredients, not the marketing. The less ingredients the better.
  • If sugar or some form of sugar are the top ingredients (ingredients are listed from largest to smallest in quantity used), look for a better choice.
  • Bars that make “bold” claims, such as boosting metabolism, increasing energy (calories are energy – consume more of those if you need energy), usually contain trace amounts of the elements that would allow them to make those claims

Bottom line: Don’t become dependent on bars.  If weight loss is your goal and you’re consuming a bar or two a day, there are bigger problems failing you.  If you need more energy, perhaps you need more sleep or exercise or less sugar….consuming bars isn’t the answer. If you’re looking for enhanced performance, depending on your event they may be the best due to portability but your success should not rely on their dependence.

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.



The 12 Days of Fitness – Day 6 – Top Foods to Eliminate or Drastically Decrease

8_foods_you_should_avoid_euhboThe holiday season is probably not the best time to mention this, to which I say if not now, when? All year, you’ve hopefully made a concerted effort to eat healthier and stay away from the not so healthy temptations.  Diet books will be getting ready to fly off of the shelves in a few weeks as masses attempt to get it right next year. It’s sad and the cycle will continue so long as you allow yourself to be swept up in marketing madness. If you’ve had it with the what and what not to eat, I can summarize it much simpler for you by identifying the top foods to eliminate or drastically reduce from your culinary vocabulary.

The Good Guys

By now, there aren’t many people who will argue that a diet FULL of fruits and vegetables is bad for you.  When was the last time you heard someone was overweight from eating too much fruit and vegetables? (Note: There are vegetarians who are overweight but it’s not from eating too many vegetables).  It was a lesson taught by mom from the time we were born.  “Eat your fruits and vegetables”, and if you were like my kid brother, you couldn’t leave the dinner table until you did so.  Fruits and vegetables are nutrient and water dense, many high in fiber, and can provide a greater sense of satiety.  Don’t like many?  Eat what you do.

The Bad Guys

In no particular order….

  1. Trans fat (listed as partially or fully hydrogenated oil on food labels)
  2. Sugar (and it’s 30+ aliases, specifically sugar alcohols)
  3. Fried foods (C’mon.  If that wasn’t obvious to you by now, shame on you!)
  4. White breads, cereals, and other carbohydrate based products with 0 grams of fiber.  Why?  They’re stripped of any nutrient value and boost insulin, and when insulin is up, fat metabolism is down.
  5. Most frozen, prepackaged meals.  They’re high in sodium (preservative), loaded with chemicals (no added nutrition there), and are closer to being more a non-food than they are edible

Not to suppress your holiday cookie or eggnog desire, but indulge yourself a little over the holiday and always remember the 90/10 rule.  If you eat well 90% of the time, it’s OK to be a little lax 10% of the time.

See you tomorrow for Day 7 of my 12 Days of Fitness.