I'm so happy you're here because I'm writing about a topic that is SO important nowadays - especially to anyone who is interested in living their healthiest life possible with minimal risk of weight gain, disease and chronic inflammation.
We're talkin' sugar, baby!
Everyone's favourite vice (ins't it though?). Whether we're aware of it or not sugar is a driving force behind many of our decisions surrounding food and drinks, and it can lead to a host of health issues...we'll touch on that in a bit.
What is sugar?
Sugar is a simple carbohydrate that is found in many vegetables, nuts, seeds, fruits and man-made foods and drinks (pop, alcoholic drinks, iced teas etc.)
Sugar contains 4 calores per gram compared to protein which contains 4 grams as well and fat which has 9 calories per gram.
When you're choosing carbohydrates or sugar to consume ideally you would choose the kinds that are nutrient dense such as fruits, vegetables, or minimally processed sweetness like raw honey or organic maple syrup.
This is because your body will feel more satiated (full) when you're consuming nutrient dense foods and this will help to avoid blood sugar crashes and cravings. It will also help to nourish and fuel your body so it will operate at it's best.
When you consume sugar that is void of nutrition you are simply getting a quick spike in blood sugar and then you will ultimately crash not shortly after, leading to yet another sugar craving - a cyclical pattern that doesn't really offer much other than a host of potential heath issues such as:
- weight gain
- candida overgrowth
- brain fog
- skin irritation
- lowered immunity etc.
Sources of sugar that contain minimal/are void of nutrition:
- cane sugar, refined white sugar (GMO or organic), confectioner's sugar
- high fructose corn syrup
- brown rice syrup
- brown sugar
- simple syrup etc.
What kind of sugar am I referring to when I say I'm 'sugar-free'?
For me, personally, I don't eat any refined sugar whatsoever. So, I'm eating foods that contain a small amount of naturally occurring sugars and only at certain times.
For example, I alternate between the Keto Diet and the Carnivore Diet. When I'm eating keto I eat meat as well as approved fruits, nuts, seeds, and vegetables that are very low in naturally occurring sugars and are very nutrient dense.
Some of those sugars are: Berries, Brazil nuts (and other keto approved nuts and seeds), green plantains, green bananas, green papaya).
Why I cut out sugar
I cut out sugar because of a few reasons:
1. I struggled with sugar addiction for years and do best when I avoid it completely.
2. I also struggled with intestinal and vaginal dysbiosis. I'd rather not.
3. My skin is tighter, leaner and I hold less water and fat when I'm sugar free. It feels frigging good to be lean and tight!
4. My immune system functions way better. I don't get sick, tired or lethargic through the day.
5. I sleep like a dream! No more tossing and turning or restless legs at night due to high sugar intake.
What I've noticed since cutting out sugar
Since I quit sugar I've noticed I feel really sharp. I have an insane amount of energy and my muscle definition shows really well. I workout 5 - 7 days per week and I don't work that hard for nothing. I want to look hella good! And I'm willing to do whatever it takes to look and feel my best. Sugar addiction ain't got shit on me.
I've also noticed a major reduction in gut symptoms such as bloating, constipation and food intolerances. A win-win-win!
Symptoms of eating too much sugar
How much sugar is too much? Great question. The answer: It depends.
Everyone's microbiome, pancreatic exocrine function, genetics, stress levels and overall diet will influence how you respond to eating sugar.
With that said, here are some common symptoms associated with eating too much sugar:
- Weight gain
- Water retention
- Yeast infections
- Food intolerances
- Chronic gas, bloat, pain in the gut
- Acne etc.
Is eating sugar free sustainable?
Again, the answer to this question is it depends.
It depends on the level of sugar reduction you're aiming for. Some people remove solely refined sugars such as white and brown sugar, maple syrup, honey etc., and only eat whole food sources such as fruit, dried fruit and sugars that are naturally occurring in vegetables, nuts and seeds. This is an amazing approach and can keep your sweet tooth satisfied but also give your body a ton of fibre, nutrition and overall macronutrient balance when matched with eating high quality sources of fats and protein. This can be done indefinitely.
Though, some people who are struggling with dysbiosis (IBS, gut infections, chronic yeast infections) need to be on a therapeutic sugar free diet where you're eliminating all sources of sugars for a period of time (usually 12 - 52 weeks or more depending on their unique situation) while they address the infection and restore balance in their microbiome and immune system.
For me, it's purely ego and aesthetics. I LOVE feeling and looking fit, lean and healthy. I always have - it's a MASSIVE value of mine and I am happiest when I eat a high protein, high fat diet with minimal sugars whatsoever.
I'm a bit of a cavewoman (if you can't tell) and eat for purpose, not necessarily pleasure. Don't get me wrong, I still LOVE the food I eat but I choose foods based on its chemistry first, not its flavour.
For me this is sustainable because it's aligned with my values and I feel extremely passionate about the decisions behind living sugar free - therefore I'm happy as a pig in its pen when I'm rollin' around in grass fed steaks, avocados, eggs and burgers (sans bun of course!).
For others, my approach to nutrition may be used for a short period of time to lose weight and detoxify then they may return to eating whole food sources of sugars (figs, fruits, dates etc.) from time to time but always keeping in mind portion control and quality off foods so to avoid gaining excess weight again.
Why I'm merging into keto/carnivore diet
Some of you may or may not know that I got my pro card as a fitness competitor in my 20's. I was a bikini model and carried a fair amount of muscle on my petite 5'2" frame but I also carried a lot of excess water retention due to poor macronutrient choices.
At 36, I'm considering competing again. It's exciting! Though even if I don't I still want to look and feel my best. This is a project of sorts - a way of seeing what my body is capable of and experimenting with one of my most favourite things on earth; nutrition.
It's what I look forward to everyday; planning meals, eating for health and vitality, training hard and often and feeling like fucking She-Ra along the way! haha
So, I'm eating and researching the shit out of the carnivore diet as I alternate between that and the keto diet and intermittently fast. This is healing my gut, hormonal system, fuelling crazy feel-good workouts and I'm in the best shape of my life!
Before you go judging the carnivore diet, hold out, do some research first and read the blogs I will be posting in the weeks to come as I share my knowledge on this fascinating new diet that is proving to reverse diabetes, blood sugar dysregulation, insulin resistance, fat gain/fat retention, candida overgrowth, etc.
There are SO many different ways to eat guys. I know. It can be overwhelming! Vegan, vegetarian, paleo, keto, low FODMAP, carnivore, etc. How do you know what's right for you, right? I hear ya.
There is no one way to eat that suits everyone. It depends on their health situation, goals, genetics, epigenetics etc. It's really, really important to remember that no matter what diet you choose to support your health and weight loss goals that you research it well, speak with a nutritionist to make sure you're getting all of the nutrition you need and take good care of your temple first <3
If you're interested in getting started on a refined sugar-free diet then be sure to download your FREE copy of my latest eBook: The 3 Day Weight Loss Reset eBook here and begin to experience the power of reducing your sugar intake has on your experience.
Be well with Hope,
Cassandra Hope RHN + CPT
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