The Nutrient Thief

In my recent posts about sugar, I discussed why sugar and excess carbohydrate consumption leads to fat storage (read here!) and places where sugar hides and some strategies to reduce the added sugar you’re consuming (read here!).  My first post explained how over-consuming carbohydrates and sugars raises your blood sugar above your body’s comfort level, and subsequently the body secretes insulin which transports the sugar into fat cells for long-term storage.  Consuming a highly sweetened beverage like soda, or eating a bag of Skittles, will instantly exceed that comfort level and turn on the insulin response and subsequent fat storage mechanism.

But, there’s another reason why excess sugar consumption is unhealthy.  Not only is it bad for your waistline, but it could also be leading to vitamin and nutrient deficiencies.

You’ve heard the old adage, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch”, right?  Well, there’s no such thing as a free digestive process, either!  Digesting and metabolizing carbohydrates and sugar requires specific nutrients, including B vitamins, magnesium, iron, and zinc.

You can visualize your body as having a “nutrient bank” that collects and stores nutrients from food and vitamins you’re taking.  The body uses these nutrients for all of its processes, from hormone production and regulation to regulating circadian rhythms to your mood and ability to concentrate to athletic performance to repairing and maintaining your tissues.  When you’ve got a full nutrient bank, you’re feeling great! But when your nutrient bank runs low, you are feeling tired, irritable, foggy-brained and maybe you’re getting sick often.

Any time you eat carbohydrates, your body needs the specific vitamins and nutrients mentioned above to digest and metabolize them.  Often, fruits and vegetables contain the very same vitamins and minerals that are needed to digest and metabolize them.  How convenient!  And, fruits and vegetables provide additional vitamins and minerals in addition to what is needed for digestion.  By consistently eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, you’re making deposits in your body’s nutrient bank to build a foundation for optimal health.  On the other hand, consuming foods with added sugar that contain few or no nutrients (cookies, crackers, candy, soda) will force your body to make a withdrawal from its nutrient bank.  With time, overconsumption of sugar will lead to insufficiency or deficiency of B vitamins, magnesium, iron and zinc.

The best thing you can do is to be cognizant of how much sugar you’re consuming and try to reduce or avoid when possible.  The FDA has recently announced that it will be requiring changes to nutrition labels in the near future, and food manufacturers must report the added sugar content (vs naturally occurring in fruit, milk, and vegetables).  Many people are unaware of how much sugar may be hiding in foods, or how much sugar consumption can add up over the course of a day. Track how much added sugar you’re consuming in a day, and then think about which strategies from this post you can implement to cut back.

8 Ways To Reduce Sugar Consumption

8 Practical Ways to Reduce Sugar Consumption (Sugar Blog Part 2)

In my first blog post on sugar, I discussed the impact sugar has on our blood sugar and why consuming sugar puts us on the “blood sugar roller coaster” and is bad for our weight-loss goals.  Sugar turns OFF our fat burning mechanisms and turns ON our fat storage mechanism – not what we want!

How can you utilize this information?  You can be cognizant of how much sugar you’re consuming on a daily basis.  Reduce consumption of desserts and sweet snacks, sodas, sweetened teas and flavored coffee beverages.  Be especially wary of sweetened drinks delivering a sugar overload: A seemingly innocent 12-oz vanilla latte from Starbucks has 14g (3.5 teaspoons!) of added sugar in the flavored syrup, while the 12-oz white chocolate mocha packs a whopping 33g (8 teaspoons!) of added sugar.  (For the record: that’s more sugar than the World Health Organization and American Heart Association recommend consuming in an entire day, neatly packaged into a single beverage that you can consume in under 15 minutes.)

If you eat a lot of processed, packaged foods – even those that are not “dessert-like” or that you would suspect to contain sugar (granola bars, store-bought salad dressings, soups, marinades, sauces, flavored yogurt, cereal… to name a few), you are probably consuming more sugar than you realize.  Read labels and look for sugar or its many aliases (high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, agave, cane sugar, evaporated cane juice, rice syrup, corn syrup).  You’ll be shocked when you realize all the places where sugar lurks!

Here are a few ways to reduce the sugar in your diet:

  • Mix fresh fruit into plain yogurt instead of buying fruit-at-the-bottom or flavored yogurt (which carries added sugars!)
  • Eat plain nuts and sunflower/pumpkin seeds with fresh fruit instead of store-bought granola bars
  • Make your own salad dressing by combining olive oil with lemon juice, red wine vinegar, or balsamic vinegar instead of using store-bought dressings
  • Snack on veggie sticks with peanut/almond butter, hummus or salsa instead of cookies or crackers when you’re craving something crunchy
  • Replace soda and sweetened bottled teas with water (still or sparkling) with lemon, lime, or cucumber wedges
  • Replace flavored coffee creamers with half & half, milk, or heavy cream. Gradually cut back on the sugar you’re adding to your coffee.  Consider trying “bulletproof coffee”: blend coconut oil and unsalted organic butter into your coffee with a hand immersion blender for a frothy treat that will keep you feeling full ‘til lunch!
  • Have fresh fruit and cheese for dessert instead of sweets
  • Replace candy or milk chocolate with dark chocolate (70% or higher cocoa)

Interested in learning more about cutting back on sugar or reviewing what you’re eating to see where you can do some dietary “post-holiday cleaning”?  Contact me to see how I can help you!

Setting SMART Goals for 2017

Are you thinking about the 2017 Race Season yet?

I know I am!  I’ve got a pretty big race on the radar for July, but I’m keeping it under wraps until it’s officially confirmed.  Since that will involve a trip across the pond (hint!), I’m planning on doing more local, or relatively local races this year that can be done with only a one-night-away-from-home trip OR even better, sleep-in-your-own-bed races!

Here are my tips for setting goals to set yourself up for success.

First… Consider the following question:  What is your motivation for lining up at the starting line? Do you simply want to cross the finish line? Do you have your eye on a specific finish time, or are you looking to set a new personal record (PR)? Do you want to land a podium spot or win the race? Knowing what you want to get out of the race is crucial goal setting.

You’ve probably heard of “SMART” goals, right? SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-oriented. To simply say “I want to get faster” is not an example of a good goal. How much faster? Faster in a particular discipline? Do you want to be faster next month, next year or in the next decade?

Here is how to set up a SMART goal for yourself:

Specific: Does your goal apply to a specific distance, particular race or particular discipline?  (Examples: Half marathon, the Philadelphia Olympic Triathlon, or biking abilities – 20 min average power, for example)

Measureable: How will you know when you’ve reached your goal? Instead of saying “get faster”, which is very vague, you could say “I want to shave 3 minutes off last year’s 10k triathlon run time” or “I want to finish in the top 10% of my age group”.

Action-oriented: Your goal should have defined actions you can take to get there. “I will run 3 days each week” is an action-oriented goal that you could take in order to reach the above example of taking 3 minutes off a 10k run time.

Realistic: It’s great to shoot for the stars. But, your goal also needs to be realistic; something that with the right attitude, training and execution on race day, is within your grasp. If you ran your personal best-ever 5k of 25:00 in May, then setting a goal of a 19:00 5k in October is not probably realistic for most people (that’s 2 minutes off per mile!). But, an October goal of breaking 24:00 or even 23:00 is probably realistic for many people.

Time-oriented: Put a timeframe on your goal to stay on track. In general, by committing to a race, you’re establishing a time-oriented goal. Example: I want to run a sub-24:00 5k by October.

Goal setting can be tricky – especially if you’re a newer athlete, or if you’re taking on a new distance or a new course for the first time. Looking at past race times and recent workout metrics, as well as the course itself, can help you determine realistic pace and finish goals. Doing some workouts, or segments of workouts, at goal race pace can help you to decide if your goals are realistic. A coach who has access to your training data and recent race or workout paces can be very help with setting realistic goals and recommending pacing strategy for your race.  Want to learn how we can work together to help you reach your goals?  Fill out the contact form on my website to contact me to set up a complimentary phone consultation!

Clean Burn Shape: It’s Detox Time!

Well, here it is…  A brand new year! Many of you are setting goals to eat healthier and be more fit.  Being an endurance athlete, I myself need to get back on track after a few too many treat splurges over the holidays (Mom’s homemade Christmas cookies galore, chocolate mousse brownies, ice cream, did I mention Christmas cookies?!)…. Who else is guilty of too many splurges?!

Here’s where I can help you!

I myself am planning to do the Orenda 10-Day Clean Burn Shape program and I’m inviting you to take this all-important first step with me.  I have been using Orenda vitamins since 2010 and am a firm believer in their products, and I’m excited to try this new detox program.

Clean Burn Shape is different from other nutrition/weight loss products because it isn’t only about food choices or counting calories.  It’s about detoxing and nourishing the body with nutrient-dense foods of your choice – with the support of a health coach (ME!!!) 🙂

DetoxWhy do we need to detox?  We are exposed to toxins everywhere!  Car exhaust, pesticides used on non-organic produce, manufacturing pollution, processed “frankenfoods”, household cleaning products, and parabens and phthalates in shampoo and other toiletries, just to name a few!  These toxins build up in our systems and overload our natural detoxification pathways.  When our internal detox system isn’t functioning optimally, we can feel fatigued and our metabolism slows down.

How does it work?  Clean Burn Shape utilizes 3 products in conjunction with an emphasis on a diet rich in organic veggies and fruit and it is vegetarian/vegan-friendly though you can also add in lean, organic animal protein if you’d like.  Clean provides nutrients that help support the body’s natural detoxifying processes.  Burn utilizes green coffee extract to maintain healthy post-meal glucose levels, supports the body’s ability to lose weight naturally, and supports a healthy lean mass (muscle) to fat mass ratio.  Shape is a nutritional shake that provides plant-based protein, fiber, greens and omega-3 support.

More details on the supplements:

  • Clean: provides nutrients that support the body’s natural detoxification processes, including aronia fruit powder, alfalfa grass powder, aloe vera powder, potassium hydrogen glucarate, peptizyme SP, artichoke leaf extract, ashwaghanda extract, burdock root extract, eleuthero root extract, fennel seed extract, licorice root extract, milk thistle extract, pau d’arco extract, peppermint leaf extract, rhodiola rosea extract, suma root extract, yellow dock root extract, and turmeric extract.
  • Burn: Each capsule contains 300mg of green coffee extract to help the body maintain healthy glucose levels after meals, support the body’s ability to lose weight naturally, and to support a healthy lean mass (muscle) to fat ratio. Green coffee provides support for normal intestinal glucose absorption and support for normal glucose liberation in the liver, which help to maintain a healthy glycemic effect and support the body’s fat-burning abilities.
  • Shape: Nutritional shake mix containing organic flax, spirulina, chia seed, blue green algae, barley grass, wheat grass, spinach, chlorella, oat grass, quinoa sprouts, pea fiber, and kamut grass, along with plant-based protein, fiber, greens, omega-3 support and other vitamins and minerals.

How does the 10-day program work?

Each day, you’ll do 1-2 packets of Clean herbal supplement, 3 Burn (green coffee extract) capsules – one with each meal, and 1-2 Shape shakes.  You’ll receive a calendar that explains when to take each supplement, and a shopping list of foods to eat (hint: lots of veggies!).  The supplements are not intended to take the place of meals but rather to provide additional support to your body while eating clean, unprocessed foods.  The supplements combined with a clean diet lead to a reduction in inflammation and common symptoms such as bloating, fatigue, and joint pain.

What kinds of foods do you eat during this program?  Organic fruits and veggies make up the bulk of your food consumption, and you can also do legumes such as beans and peanuts.  Dairy products, grains, alcohol, and refined sugar are avoided.  Yes, you can still have a cup of coffee or tea if you need caffeine, but you may be feeling so good once your body starts to detox that you won’t even need the caffeine kick!

I’ll be kicking off this program on Monday, January 23.  Who wants to join me?!  It’s 10 days of ongoing accountability from me, membership to a private Facebook group with others who share your goal, and daily nutrition, health and exercise tips.

To get started:  Visit www.try.cbslife.com and enter Gift Card Code CBS-91646 to place your order.  Select 10 Day Reset for everything you need for the 10 day program, plus a free day (to try before the group program starts, OR to give to a friend to try!), and a 30-day subscription to Clean Burn Shape Life, a website that provides recipes and meal ideas as well as guided workouts.  Everything will be shipped directly to your door!  Be sure to order soon so that your Clean Burn Shape will arrive in time to start on Jan 23.

**After you’ve done that, please sign up here with name and email so that you’ll receive daily emails from me during the program and access to the group’s facebook page.

Not sure if Clean Burn Shape is right for you?  Visit the above link and use the code and select 1-day free trial instead.  You’ll receive all the supplies you need for one day of Clean Burn Shape as well as a 14-day trial to Clean Burn Shape Life for only the cost of shipping ($4.95).

Questions?  Contact me at aewcoaching@gmail.com – I’d love to hear from you and am looking forward to working with you in this program!

The Blood Sugar Roller Coaster

Sugar, sugar… honey, honey…

We’re all familiar with the catchy tune by the Archies.  But what exactly is sugar, and what is sugar doing to us?

Sugar is found in many forms – cane sugar, honey, high fructose corn syrup, and maple syrup, to name a few.  When we hear “sugar”, most of us think of candy, cake, and other sweet treats.  Sugar also occurs naturally in fruits and starchy veggies (like potatoes, carrots, beets) as fructose.  Carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, or rice break down into sugars when they are digested, even though they are not sweet to the taste buds the way candy is.

Let’s start with a quick biology lesson:  Sugar digests very rapidly; in fact, your saliva contains enzymes called salivary amylases that start breaking down carbohydrates and sugars while they’re still being chewed!

Your body likes to operate with your blood sugar in a specific range.  When you consume sugar or grain carbohydrates like bread or pasta (which break down into sugars), your blood sugar level starts to rise. When blood sugar levels surpass your body’s comfort level, the pancreas begins to secrete the hormone insulin.

Insulin has multiple purposes in the body, but in this case, insulin’s role is to take excess sugar out of the blood stream so that your blood sugar can return to a healthy level.  Insulin then transports the sugar to a different part of the body for storage.  The sugar may be converted to glycogen and stored in the liver and muscles for future use as fuel in daily activities or exercise.  However, the liver and muscles have a limited storage capacity in the range of 1200-2000 calories depending on body size (larger bodies have larger storage capacities).  Unless you’ve just finished a long, strenuous workout, your liver and muscle glycogen stores are likely close to full simply by virtue of the carbohydrates you consume daily.

So, what happens when the liver and muscle glycogen stores are full?  When this happens, the sugar is converted to triglycerides for storage in your fat cells.  And guess what the bad news is?  Unlike liver and muscles, which have a limited storage capacity, fat cells have an unlimited storage capacity!

When the sugar is transported out of the blood stream and into storage, your blood sugar levels drop quickly and you may experience that shaky, “hangry” (that’s hungry + angry!) feeling, that typically has you reaching for a snack to boost blood sugar again.  This starts the blood sugar spike, insulin release, and subsequent blood sugar drop all over again; I call this effect the “blood sugar roller coaster”.

Do you want to learn how to get off the blood sugar roller coaster?  Stay tuned for Part 2!