Welcome to Week Three of your Nutrition Coaching programme! This week, we’re going to be working on sugar!
There’s a huge amount of press coverage on sugar at the moment, so no doubt this won’t be the first thing that you you’ve read about this.
Let’s begin – click on the play button on the photo below to watch your video:
What does sugar do to my body?
Very simply, sugar is one of your body’s sources of energy – so in principle, it’s a good thing. To train hard, we need the energy to do so. But at the same time, we need to make sure it’s the right kind of energy and the right amount.
Too little energy, we get faint, dizzy, feel weak and can’t do a lot!
Too much energy and we get hyper, start to ‘over-function’, dizzy, sicky etc!
Too much sugar sends your body into overdrive – it starts to produce lots of hormones to cope with it – and the result of this is spikes and dips in energy levels. You have a sugary snack, you’re buzzing, you have loads of energy and you can do everything! An hour later (if that), you feel knackered again, bored, unmotivated and start to procrastinate.
That’s why this is important – you’re on this planet for big reasons, and you want to get things done. Too much sugar will stop you getting stuff done!
So, we need to manage the amount of sugar being taken in and thereby manage the peaks and troughs in your energy levels. We want to be stable, consistent, calm and in control and sugar is not your friend here.
So what can and can’t I eat?
I’m going to introduce the LOVE OR USEFUL PRINCIPLE here – The Warrior Programme’s biggest guiding principle. Basically, if you love something, eat it, in moderation. If you hate something, don’t eat it. If you don’t really like something and it’s not nutritionally useful, don’t eat it.
An example – for me, I’m not really bothered about biscuits. There is rarely anything of nutritional value in a biscuit. So, I won’t eat it. Cake, on the other hand, I love. There is rarely anything of nutritional value in a cake. But if I love it, I will eat it, in moderation.
This principle will guide you through everything we’re going to work on – food and life.
This being said, there are some things I would encourage you to just outright not do, if possible:
Putting sugar in hot drinks – if you can’t go cold turkey, dial it back in stages
Sweeteners full stop – that includes diet soft drinks – I would recommend avoid soft drinks altogether if possible
Putting sugar on fruit
Basically adding sugar on top of anything, unless it’s integral to recipes
What do you define as sugar?
When I’m talking about sugar, I’m primarily referring to the grainy white or brown stuff. I would strongly encourage you not to have the white stuff in your house. The brown stuff, slightly less bad, but still sugar. I have some brown stuff, but only for making kefir, as food for the microbes.
There are so many great sugar replacers these days, that sugar itself just isn’t really necessary anymore – maple syrup, agave, honey, black molasses, brown rice syrup, Manuka honey, stevia.
Stevia and agave are the lowest in ‘calories’ (but we don’t count calories!)
Maple syrup and black molasses I would say are the nicest tasting.
Manuka honey has incredible antibacterial properties, but a bit pricey to use in cooking.
Ultimately, I would encourage you to try them all out and pick a favourite. Mine is maple syrup.
Even so, I would encourage you to get away from the habit of adding sugar to anything. Any baking recipes I share on the Warriors group will always be normal sugar free and with minimal added sugars, even if from the above list.
Can I eat fruit?
Yes! 100%! Fruit is full of fabulous vitamins and minerals that we need, so yes.
If you eat it in excess, however, it will still produce similar results to eating just sugar, so moderation again. I used to be 3 stone heavier than I am now and I lost a lot of the weight through cycling serious miles and cutting out traditional snacks for fruit. At one point, I was eating 10-12 pieces a day – I was always hungry and had the energy spikes I mentioned above. So don’t do that, that is excess! But 2-3 pieces per day is fine. Mix it up and take note of the next section.
If you want to get really technical, some fruits are lower in the fruit sugar – fructose – than others. These are the berries, so if you’re really serious about going low sugar, go for berries.
Sugar and Protein
As in week two, whenever you eat, I want you thinking ‘where is the protein?’ The same goes here – protein tempers the effect of sugar. So if you’re eating your protein alongside the sugary food, there will be less of an impact.
Handful of blueberries and a few almonds
An apple and a tablespoon of peanut butter
A smoothie with added protein powder
This is how I always do it and it really works.
A lot to think about – how do I do it?
Continue thinking – where is the protein?
Keep a log for 3 days on what sugary foods you’re eating and when, include fruit in this
Alongside this, track your energy levels on a scale of 1-10, 1 being nothing in the tank, 10 being high as a kite. This should be really insightful for you.
Work out where you can stop adding sugar to things
Check out the recipes we post on the Warriors Facebook Group for ‘hacks’ on where to reduce sugar
Respect your body and what you put into it – ask yourself do I love this? Is this useful? If the answer is no to both, don’t put it in.
Until next week,
Your Head Warrior