In our everlasting quest for hugeness and rippedness, many of us will stop at no end to reach our goal. Some will try marathon workouts in the weight room; others will count every calorie they eat. Some real hardcore muscle gaining freaks will even set their alarm clocks for 3:00 am just to drink a high calorie shake to gain that extra pound of muscle. All of these good intentions to build the ultimate competitive physique may be in vane if one key ingredient is being overlooked. The key ingredient in this recipe for success is simple sugar. In this case, it is an absence of simple sugar that we want!
Over the years (and I mean hundreds and thousands of years), the human diet has changed dramatically. Our prehistoric ancestors were hunters and gatherers. They made a kill and they ate it. They found a patch of berries or nuts and they ate them. There was no trip to the fast food store to get burgers, fries and Cokes. There was no junk food isle to get cookies, cakes, candy bars and ice cream. Only over the last couple hundred years have simple sugar foods been somewhat available. Only over the last 50 years have we been able to walk into most stores and find simple sugar foods. Worse yet, over the last 10 years, simple sugar foods have become the number one ingredient in the American diet. An average American consumes over 100 lbs of simple sugar each year. Our body does not need simple sugars. As a matter of fact, simple sugars are the slow poison leading not only to decreased athletic performance, but also to many diseases and even death.
It is no coincidence that diabetes and heart disease are at an all time high in this country. Diabetes used to be a disease that people did not get until their late 40’s or 50’s. Now we see teenagers and young adults in their 20’s developing this life threatening condition. Simple sugar is the culprit here. Simple sugar is the one key ingredient that you need to avoid if you want to build quality muscle mass and reduce your percent body fat.
Carbohydrate is the food source that gives us energy, indispensable energy. Carbohydrate will also protect your muscle protein from being catabolized (broken down) for energy. When you here the word, “carbohydrate” what comes to mind? Usually people think of starchy foods like potatoes, rice, pastas and fruit. Carbohydrate can come from many different sources. Vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, onions, tomatoes, and corn. Fruits like bananas, oranges, kiwi, grapes, and apples. Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt. Grains like oats, rice, wheat and breads made from different grains. Salad items like lettuce, spinach, sprouts, cucumbers, peppers, and celery. Even nuts and seeds have carbohydrate in them. Carbohydrates are definitely an essential component of a well balanced diet. Complex carbohydrate is what we are referring to, not simple sugars. Complex carbohydrate foods contain a multitude of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, enzymes and other important components our body needs. Carbohydrate can also come from candy bars, ice cream, cake, soft drinks, and cookies. These types of carbohydrate sources are mainly composed of simple sugars.
In truth, all sources of carbohydrates are composed of simple sugars. The difference is how these simple sugars are combined. Sugars come in three main categories: single sugar molecules (like glucose or fructose); a pair of single molecules attached together (like two glucose molecules bonded together); and long molecules (lots of single glucose molecules attached together like a chain). The first two types mentioned above are the type we commonly refer to as simple sugars or monosaccharides and disaccharides respectively. The last one is the type we need to eat more of and commonly refer to as long chain glucose polymers or polysaccharides. Polysaccharides are known as complex carbohydrates.
Once these carbohydrate foods are consumed, your body will absorb them through the intestinal wall. This is where the main differences between monosaccharides, disaccharides and polysaccharides really begin. Carbohydrate molecules are interesting in terms of how they are absorbed. Prepare to use your imagination. Try to visualize a monosaccharide being a single link of a chain, a disaccharide being two links of chain hooked together and a polysaccharide being a long chain with many links. Carbohydrate chains must be broken into individual links before absorption can take place. That means that each link must be broken (by an enzyme) before the sugar molecule can enter your body. The enzymes must start at one end of the chain or the other to absorb the entire molecule. These enzymes can only break off one link at a time, from one end or the other. They can’t break the chain in the middle and make a bunch of shorter chains or links.
If the chain is short, like one or two links, this process will occur very quickly. If the chain long, it takes much longer to break off every link and absorb all of the sugar. This means that when you eat simple sugars (cookies, cakes, ice cream, candy bars, Coke, etc) you will absorb the sugar very quickly. If you eat a salad or vegetables, which are comprised of long chain carbohydrates, it will take much longer to absorb the carbohydrate into your body.
So what is the big deal? Why should I be worried about eating simple sugars? Well, here are some of the answers you are looking for. We won’t even get into other related topics like the premature development of tooth decay and diabetes associated with a high simple sugar diet. Instead, we will just focus on performance.
What is so bad about simple sugars?
Simple sugars are absorbed quickly through the intestinal wall. After being quickly absorbed, your blood sugar levels (the amount of sugar in your blood) also rises quickly. Fortunately, our bodies release a hormone called insulin, which removes the sugar in our blood and lowers the level back down to a safe range. Insulin is a storage hormone that puts the sugar away so it does not cause us harm. If not for insulin, we would die because high blood sugar levels are fatal. This is why diabetics (don’t produce or are non-responsive to insulin) must take an insulin shot immediately after eating foods high in sugar. Without insulin, we would die (or at least get real sick) from eating a large amount simple sugar.
What is the big deal about insulin?
Insulin is a storage hormone that is primarily responsible for lowering blood sugar levels. Insulin also causes three other things to happen that may not be quite so good. Listed below are three facts about insulin.
Fact #1. Since insulin is a storage hormone, the majority of calories you eat that come from sugar will be stored as fat. So when you eat sugar foods, those calories get stored as fat. Unless your muscle and liver glycogen (storage form of sugar) is really low, you will store the extra sugar as fat. Most of us have normal glycogen levels at any given time so when you eat simple sugars, let the fat storage begin!
Fact #2. Insulin inhibits the release of FFA’s (free fatty acids) or fat. That means that whenever you eat sugar foods, you cannot burn any fat because none will be released. This means that if I drink a Coke or PowerAde, eat a candy bar or donut before a workout I can’t burn any fat. This seems shocking, but true. You will just use sugar for energy. When that is gone, you will feel the “sugar crash” and lose energy.
Fact #3. Insulin inhibits the release of GH (Growth Hormone). Growth Hormone is the key regulator of muscle recovery and repair, muscle growth, and bone growth. If you eat simple sugars, you will not release nearly as much GH, therefore you will not grow, repair and recover at nearly the same level as otherwise possible. Your body secrets GH in small amounts throughout the day, and large amounts post exercise (practice, games, weights, conditioning) and just after you fall asleep. Common sense (and research) would tell us that the two worst times to eat sugar would be post workout and before bed. Sorry, no ice cream before bed if you care at all about your body’s ability to recover, repair, burn fat, and grow.
Often, people skip breakfast. This ultimately causes them to do one of two things. Either they crave sugary foods (because the blood sugar levels dropped so low from not eating) and give in to these cravings or they over eat at lunch because they so starved by the time they eat. Both of these are detrimental to your physique.
We already no what happens if we eat simple sugars (if not then wake up!), but overeating can do the same thing. Here’s why. When you overeat carbohydrate foods, you surpass your body’s ability to breakdown and utilize all of those calories. Over a much longer period of time (hours), your blood sugar levels rise. Because you ate so much carbohydrate, your blood sugar levels rise nearly as high as they would have if you ate a candy bar or drank a Coke. Insulin has to be released to lower your blood sugar levels (and save your life). So here’s the bottom line; overeating carbohydrate can be just as bad as eating junk food! The above facts are only the performance related side effects of sugar. Table 2 provides you with 59 other reasons why simple sugars should be avoided.
Certain carbohydrate foods are better than other in terms of what type of insulin response you will get. Experts have developed what is known as a “glycemic index”. The glycemic index is a measure a rating system that assigns a number to most food. This number is a ranking of how much your blood sugar levels will be elevated by consuming each food. Although it is not perfect, the glycemic index is a useful tool for picking which carbohydrate foods to eat. The glycemic index can be somewhat tricky to follow as any different “experts” have added their own twist. Some have even changed the scale itself! To keep things simple, I have grouped some of the more common carbohydrate foods into three categories. The choices in the best choice column are the lowest on the glycemic index and will cause the least increase in your blood sugar levels (See Table 1).
Many people fall victim to advertising. This is true when it comes to clothing, sunglasses, automobiles, the places we shop, and especially the foods we eat. When you have a hot, steamy hamburger dripping with fat, a golden brown jumbo size box of fries and a 32-ounce Coke dangled in front of you every 5 minutes on TV, it’s hard to say “NO”. You are better off not trying to develop superior willpower, but instead use your God given commonsense. If you don’t buy the sugar foods to begin with, they won’t tempt you at home later. Treat yourself to a single serving of ice cream at the ice cream parlor once a week rather than buying a half-gallon of ice cream and having it haunt you like a ghost in your freezer. I think you get the idea!!
If you remember from my previous articles, your goal is to eat five to seven small meals a day that include complex carbohydrate, protein and healthy fat. This type of eating will maintain your blood sugar at optimal levels and maximize energy levels throughout the day. No more nodding off in class, no more feeling tired before practice or workouts, and no more missing out on muscle growth, improved performance, and fat loss.
59 REASONS WHY SUGARS RUINS YOUR HEALTH!
By Nancy Appleton, Ph.D., author of Lick the Sugar Habit
- Sugar can suppress the immune system.
- Sugar disrupts mineral balance.
- Sugar may cause hyperactivity, anxiety, difficulty concentrating and crankiness in children.
- Sugar produces a significant rise in triglycerides.
- Sugar contributes to the reduction of the body’s defense against bacterial infection.
- Sugar can cause kidney damage.
- Sugar reduces high-density lipoproteins (HDL).
- Sugar leads to chromium deficiency.
- Sugar can lead to cancer of the breast, ovaries, intestines, prostate or rectum.
- Sugar increases fasting levels of glucose and insulin.
- Sugar causes copper deficiency.
- Sugar interferes with absorption of calcium and magnesium.
- Sugar can weaken eyesight.
- Sugar raises the level of neurotransmitters called serotonin.
- Sugar can cause hypoglycemia.
- Sugar can produce an acidic stomach.
- Sugar can raise adrenaline levels in children.
- Sugar malabsorption is frequent in patients with functional bowel disease.
- Sugar can cause signs of premature aging.
- Sugar can lead to alcoholism.
- Sugar leads to tooth decay.
- Sugar contributes to obesity.
- High intake of sugar increases the risk of Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis.
- Sugar can cause symptoms often found in people with gastric and duodenal ulcers.
- Sugar can lead to arthritis.
- Sugar can contribute to asthma.
- Sugar can cause Candida Albicans (yeast infection).
- Sugar can contribute to gallstones.
- Sugar can lead to heart disease.
- Sugar can cause appendicitis.
- Sugar can lead to multiple sclerosis.
- Sugar can cause hemorrhoids.
- Sugar can contribute to varicose veins.
- Sugar can elevate glucose and insulin responses in oral contraceptive users.
- Sugar can lead to periodontal disease.
- Sugar can contribute to osteoporosis.
- Sugar contributes to salivary acidity.
- Sugar can cause a decrease in insulin sensitivity.
- Sugar leads to decreased glucose tolerance.
- Sugar can decrease growth hormones.
- Sugar can increase cholesterol.
- Sugar can increase the systolic blood pressure.
- Sugar can cause drowsiness and decreases activity in children.
- Sugar can cause migraine headaches.
- Sugar can interfere with the absorption of protein.
- Sugar can cause food allergies.
- Sugar can contribute to diabetes.
- Sugar can cause toxemia during pregnancy.
- Sugar can contribute to eczema in children.
- Sugar can lead to cardiovascular disease.
- Sugar can impair the structure of DNA.
- Sugar can change the structure of proteins.
- Sugar can contribute to sagging skin by changing the structure of collagen.
- Sugar can lead to cataracts.
- Sugar can cause emphysema.
- Sugar can cause atherosclerosis.
- Sugar can promote an elevation of low-density proteins (LDL).
- Sugar can cause free radicals in the blood stream.
- Sugar lowers the enzymes’ ability to function normally