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We know how much our senses love something sweet but at the same time we’re aware it’s not the best food choice. It’s Summer, though, so it’s ok to eat a little added sugar, right? Like Mom says, “everything in moderation”. Not everyone has the will power or self-control to eat just one though. One statistic that I’ve read shows 74 percent of packaged foods contain added sugar. Even though we have seen a 15 percent decrease in added sugar consumption since 1999, according to government data, the typical person still eats about 94 grams (or 375 calories) on a daily basis (U.S. Department of Agriculture).
If you know you’re the type of person, who has control issues, then it’s probably easier, and healthier, to avoid certain snacks and desserts altogether. After a few weeks you won’t even crave it.
Have you ever wondered what actually happens inside your body when you do go overboard and eat one too many chocolate chips cookies? Feel free to substitute cookies for ice cream, pizza, fast food etc. Whatever your “fix” is. They all have added sugar and maybe knowing more of what happens to your body, will make you pause and think twice about eating it. Let’s note that we’re not talking about one item or a typical portion size. That’s ok. It’s only when you go overboard, on a regular basis, that you should be concerned. This is where diet can begin to affect overall health. If your physician has mentioned that your A1C level is getting high, then you have been warned. Get your house in order or you may end up becoming a diabetic or worse.
How Added Sugar Affects Your Body
- We consume food that is high in added sugar on a daily basis.
- Carbohydrates are what cause blood sugar to rise. It’s is important to eat protein and fiber with carbohydrates.
- The body breaks down carbohydrates into simple sugars and away they go into the bloodstream.
- As a result, the body releases insulin, which is a hormone produced by your pancreas.
- Insulin’s role is to absorb excess glucose in the blood and stabilize sugar levels.
- Insulin helps blood sugar enter the body’s cells so it can be used for energy.
- The amount of insulin released usually matches of glucose in the blood stream.
- Once insulin does its job, your blood sugar drops again (the result though is you feel “drained” following the sugar rush).
- Repeated blood sugar spikes, many times a day, over time leads to an increase in stored body fat (typically around the abs in men & hips in women).
- Over time, cells stop responding to all that insulin – because they’ve become insulin resistant.
- Finally, your body can’t lower blood sugar effectively leading to type 2 diabetes.
A Few Interesting Facts About Added Sugar
- Eating too much sugar initially causes a spike in insulin while elevated, long-term levels can lead to kidney damage.
- Added sugar causes a surge in feel-good brain chemicals dopamine and serotonin. So does using certain drugs, like cocaine. When you consume too much added sugar over time, you end up wanting more of it (just like certain drugs). Your body gets addicted to it.
- One study of more than 3,500 people found that those who drank 34 ounces (about 1 liter) of water a day were 21 percent less likely to have issues with high blood sugar than those who drank 16 ounces (473 ml) or less a day.
- A second study showed subjects who got 17-21 percent of their calories from added sugar had a 38 percent risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared to those who consumed 8 percent of their calories from added sugar. The risk was more than double for those who consumed 21 percent or more of their calories from added sugar.
- Men who consumed 67 grams or more of sugar per day were 23 percent more likely to be diagnosed with depression in a five-year period than men who ate 40 grams or less.
- One study from UC San Francisco found that drinking sugary drinks, like soda, ages our body on a cellular level as quickly as cigarettes can.
- According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the average American consumes 156 pounds of added sugar per year.
How Much Added Sugar Should We Eat?
Added sugars can come in more than 60 different forms and it’s hidden in just about everything you eat. Added sugar is found in a wide range of foods, from ketchup to fruit-based yogurt to (sadly) sports drinks like Gatorade. In terms of how much we should eat, the American Heart Association suggests that men consume no more than 150 calories (about 9 teaspoons or 38 grams) of added sugar per day. That is close to the amount in a 12-ounce can of soda. Women should try to eat less than 100 calories (or 25 grams) of added sugar per day. It may seem easy to do but keep in mind a bar of chocolate and a can of soda will already put you at 75 grams.
Keep in mind added sugar is much different than natural sugar found in fruit. It’s fructose, yes, but it also has fiber. This in turn helps release sugar slowly into the blood stream compared to the spike you get after eating half a dozen chocolate chip cookies.
Your Brain on Too Much Sugar
Eating too much added sugar affects just about every cell and organ in the body and the brain is no exception. Previous research indicates that a diet high in added sugar reduces the production of a brain chemical known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Without BDNF, our brains can’t form new memories and we can’t learn (or remember) much of anything. There is also additional research, published in the journal, Peptides, showing chronic consumption of added sugar dulls the brain’s mechanism for telling you to stop eating.
Hopefully this article sheds more light on the pitfalls of eating too much added sugar. You can pick your poison, it leads to weight loss, brain fog, low energy, oral health issues, you name it. Eating added sugar in moderation is fine. Too much of it though will lead to a multitude of health issues including insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
Physical activity and regular strength training makes you more sensitive to insulin, one reason why it’s a cornerstone of diabetes management. Focus on maintaining a healthy bodyweight and body fat level. Basically, living a healthy, sustainable lifestyle will do the trick. It’s the best way to keep blood sugar levels where they need to be.
Try doing what millions of others have already done, use Jefit as their workout log app. This in turn, will help you meet your fitness goals. By providing an extensive exercise library, you can pick and choose your workouts according to your goals. You can also join our members-only Facebook group where you can connect and interact with your fellow Jefit members. Share your successes, stories, advice, and tips so you learn and grow together. Stay Strong!
There’s so much more to looking good and feeling fit than building up muscles. Fitness starts within the body and is a combination of fitness of the mind and body. The western culture has lost the connection between the mind and body, so we embark on the latest fitness craze and fad diet, only to fail a few weeks down the line. Reconnecting the mind with your fitness goals will help you to achieve a lifelong regiment of good health.
To really focus on fitness goals you need to feel fit on the inside. You also need to feel good about yourself. If there is anything you can change do it! For example, perhaps you’re feeling stressed at work, which is causing you to choose unhealthy foods or alcohol as a quick fix?
Here are five tips to help you develop a healthy mindset in order to meet your fitness goals and most importantly, stick to them!
Regular Health Checkups
Make sure to attend all of your regular health checkups to check on your blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar. This will ensure you have a clean bill of health for starting any exercise regime and will flag any potential health concerns. Make sure you raise any concerns that you have with your physician.
The old adage of “you are what you eat” is true and not just an old wives tale. If you eat foods that are considered healthy, you will automatically feel healthier. Try to avoid processed foods, sugar, alcohol, caffeine and unhealthy fats. Include in your diet fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grain foods, protein and keep hydrated with plenty of water.
Sleep is our bodies opportunity to regenerate. Getting too little or too much sleep can affect our physical and mental health massively. A lack of sleep can affect the whole body, causing lack of concentration, reduced motor skills, impaired immune system and even our cardiovascular health. Feeling exhausted will tempt you to eat unhealthy foods as your body will crave carbohydrates and sugar to give you energy.
Try to get into natural daylight during the day. Artificial lights and darkness doesn’t provide us with a clear definition between night and day. Avoid looking at your smartphone before bed and don’t drink any caffeine after 2 pm. If all else fails visit your medical practitioner.
The combination of exercise and a healthy diet are what ultimately enables you to reach optimal health. Have clear goals and start gradually. Mix up your routines, for variety so that you don’t become bored. Seek expert advice from personal trainers as to how to develop the best routine for you. Most importantly, use Jefit app to help track and stick to your goals.
Be consistent and make small changes to your life. Once you have formed the habit of keeping yourself healthy – you are on your way. Exercise helps decrease stress in your life, in addition to keeping you healthier, both mentally and physically.
Work on Your Mobility
Mobility refers to the ability to move freely around a specific joint. When you have healthy range of motion (ROM) in all the joints, your body is free to move and adjust to its position in the most efficient way. As a result, activities and movement are more natural and less restrictive. When you have sufficient joint mobility you also get more out of your workouts at the gym. As a result of inactivity, chronic stress, and aging, your ROM and mobility begin to decrease. It is important that a regular mobility routine is incorporated into your exercise program. Specific areas should be addressed to improve joint mobility such as the hips, shoulders and lumbar and thoracic spine as a start.
Use the Jefit App to Keep You Healthy
Jefit is a gym workout app that helps all gym goers and athletes keep track of their fitness goals. Not only does it give you the ability to update and share your workout log with the supportive community, it has the largest exercise library that covers both weight training and cardio.
There are many common mistakes that both gym goers, and at home exercisers, make that ultimately could hinder their fitness progress. It can occur while in the gym or involve external factors such as eating and sleeping.
If you are not seeing the results that you want, then take heed of these common mistakes that prevent your fitness progress from really taking off, and make the necessary changes to solve them.
Are You Making One of These 8 Mistakes That Are Hindering Your Fitness Progress?
1. You’re Not Eating Properly
This is probably the biggest mistake oversight that gym goers make.
You may be not eating the correct foods, eating too much or in some cases, not enough.
- Not eating the correct foods
Do you workout hard at every gym session and then go home to reward yourself with junk food? What you eat makes a significant difference to your fitness progress.
Most people make the mistake that because they are training that it means they can consume lots of junk and sugary foods as a reward.
In fact, it can be so detrimental to your progress and can be one of the main reasons why you are not hitting your fitness goals.
While you shouldn’t become too overly obsessed with what you eat, try to eat healthily most of the time, and don’t forget to give yourself the occasional treat as well.
- Eating too much
On the other hand, you may be eating healthy foods most of the time but be overdoing it. Even though the foods that you are consuming are considered healthy, it can still hinder your progress if you eat too much. This is especially important to keep in mind if you are trying to lose weight.
Try to cut down on portion sizes and see the difference that it makes. Just be careful of the next point, which is:
- Not eating enough
Not eating enough isn’t just about what you consume but the quantity. Some people tend to overeat while others may not be eating enough.
If you are starving your body of the essential nutrients that it needs, it may cause it to hold onto that stubborn fat you are trying to lose, or minimize your ability to build size.
You need food to fuel your body.
Depending on your fitness goal – whether it is to lose fat, maintain your weight or build muscle and size – your dietary needs will differ. Make sure you are eating accordingly and you will be able to see what a difference it will make to your fitness progress.
2. You’re Overtraining
Training consistently is important but so are rest days. If you are constantly training and not giving your body sufficient time to rest, you can be potentially minimizing your performance.
Your body needs to have time out so that it can recover properly and be ready for the next workout. Make sure you incorporate rest days into your workout routine so that you are not overtraining.
3. You’re Not Sleeping at Night
One important aspect of overtraining and resting properly is not having enough sleep at night. If you are finding it difficult to get enough hours of shut-eye at night, you will find that this can affect your performance, hence slowing down your progress.
It can be difficult to get enough sleep, especially in this on-the-go lifestyle. Try to set a sleeping schedule where you go to sleep and wake up at the same time.
Doing this consistently will help it become a habit and your natural body clock will become accustomed to it.
4. Your Workouts Aren’t Consistent
On the other hand, some people may not be working out enough to see the results they expect. Skipping the gym for a couple of weeks before smashing out an intense two-hour gym session one day will not compensate for the missed time.
You need to make sure that you are heading to the gym on a regular basis. And what “regular basis” means does depend on your routine and preferences.
You may prefer one-hour sessions five times a week focusing on specific body parts. Alternatively, you may choose to only do 2-3 full body workouts a week.
As long as you are going consistently, you will see results.
5. You’re Not Doing the Right Exercises
There are so many exercises that you use in your workout but depending on your fitness goals, you have to find the best workouts for you.
It can be daunting knowing which ones are best, so investing in a fitness trainer or app that helps to simplify this process is a great way to help you in this area.
6. You Train Without a Plan
One way to help make sure that you are doing the right exercises is by using a training plan. Heading into the gym with no plan except to use whatever machines happen to take your fancy will not get you results and your sessions will not be effective.
Taking the time to plan means you can maximize not only each individual session but all your sessions as a whole.
A way to assist with this is to keep track of training logs using a gym workout tracker. This will help you determine what workouts are getting you the results and which ones are not. Then you can really curate a training plan that gets you to your fitness goals faster.
7. You’re Not Using the Right Technique
Not only will this mean that you are not getting the most out of your exercises but it can also be very dangerous.
Before even picking up any equipment, make sure that you know how to use it with the correct technique.
This will help to minimize time wasted on inefficient exercises so that you can get the results you want. More importantly as well, it will decrease the risk of injury.
8. You’re Not Giving It Enough Time
Sorry for the bad news but results take time. You need to regularly work out efficiently to see progress and unfortunately, this will not happen overnight.
Putting in the effort to go to the gym for one week straight and expecting to see drastic changes will only set you up to be disappointed and lose motivation.
Remain consistent, be patient and trust that what you are doing will get you the results that you want.
How to Speed Up Your Fitness Progress
There can be many potential ways that you are sabotaging your progress, hindering your ability to hit your fitness goals and this post covers the most common ones. If any of them resonated with you, try to incorporate some solutions accordingly into your workout and see if it helps your fitness progress.
To help keep you from self-sabotaging your own fitness progress, invest in a gym workout tracker like Jefit. This way, you can keep track of training logs and make every workout an efficient one. It also comes with an extensive exercise library so you can choose the best workouts for you.
Have you made any of these fitness mistakes and if so, how did you solve them? Let us know in the comments below, we would love to know! Stay strong with Jefit.
It isn’t enough to just get the workouts in. In fact, what you eat makes a major difference in your fitness journey. In a perfect world, we would be able to eat whatever we wanted without having to worry about managing our weight or our health but unfortunately, it is not like that. Without the proper nutrition, you will be undermining your training efforts to get fit and healthy. So make sure that you pay extra attention to your diet. As you know how the saying goes—”you are what you eat.” In this post, we will cover easy dieting tips that will help cover the nutrition side of things.
How calories work
Before we get into our easy dieting tips, we have to focus on calories and how they work. People tend to overcomplicate their diet when it comes to weight management but it is actually very simple.
So how do we work out how many calories we need?
This comes down to your Total Daily Energy Expenditure or TDEE. This refers to the total number of calories your body burns to function and complete everyday activities. This includes sleeping, eating, moving around and any other exercise or activities you do. Everyone’s TDEE is different.
How does your TDEE differ from BMR?
People tend to mix TDEE and BMR up. BMR or Basal Metabolic Rate is the number of calories your body needs just to stay alive, such as breathing. It doesn’t include any other activities that TDEE accounts for. When counting your calories, you should focus on your TDEE.
There are many online calculators that you can use to help calculate your TDEE. While they may not be 100% accurate, it’ll give you a good starting point for these easy dieting tips.
Now I have my TDEE. What now?
The first thing you need to do is think back to your goals. When it comes to weight, you either want to:
- Lose weight
- Gain weight, or
- Maintain your weight
Want to lose weight? Then you need to be in a calorie deficit, that is, eating fewer calories than your TDEE. If you want to gain weight, you need to be in a calorie surplus, that is, eating more calories than what your body needs. To maintain your current weight, you need to eat the same number of calories that your body uses to function on a day-to-day basis.
It is important to remain reasonable when determining your calories. For example, eating substantially fewer calories than your TDEE may allow you to lose weight faster. However, it may mean that you will be losing a lot of muscle as well, and not just fat. Likewise, if you dramatically increase your calories to be in a heavy surplus, you will be adding much more fat than muscle.
On average, people tend to be in a calorie deficit or surplus of around 500 calories. This way, they can try to maintain or gain as much muscle as possible, regardless of your goal.
Focus on being healthy
While losing, gaining, or maintaining weight is really that simple, your priority should still be on being healthy. So technically, yes, you can eat chips all day and as long as you are eating in a calories deficit, you will lose weight. However, that doesn’t mean that you are healthy.
Implement These Easy Dieting Tips
Here are some easy dieting tips to implement in your life.
1. Learn the macronutrients
There are three main macronutrients—protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Each plays a vital role in your diet.
Protein: When you train, your muscles break down and they use protein to rebuild themselves. This is why protein is so critical.
Carbohydrates: Your body runs on glucose (carbohydrates converted to sugar) in the body. It helps give your body enough energy to function normally. There are different type carbs: complex carbs and simple carbs. Complex carbs, such as beans, whole grain food, starchy vegetables, keep you fuller for longer. Compared to this, keep simple carbs at a minimum, including chocolate bars, candy, cereal, refined white bread, and pasta.
Fat: Fat helps to absorb nutrients from the food you eat, provides energy, and protects your organs. While fat is no longer vilified in the health industry as it once was, there are still good kinds of fat and bad fat. Healthy fats are avocado, olive oil, nuts, and seeds. Bad fats are saturated and trans fat. These include ready-made meals and chips.
When you eat your meals, try to eat a balanced meal with all three macronutrients. Focus on lean protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats. Work on eating foods high in fiber too.
2. Focus on whole foods
It should come to no surprise that the majority of your foods should be whole foods. We’re talking fruit and vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables come jam-packed with all the nutrients and minerals that you need. To make sure you’re getting all this nutrition, make your plate as colorful as possible.
3. Stay hydrated
Don’t underestimate how much of a positive change water can bring to our health. Our body loses a lot of water every day, and so it is important that we are constantly replenishing our bodies.
While drinking 8 glasses of water is the common guideline that people stipulate, there are other ways to make sure that you are staying hydrated. Look at the color of your urine. If it is clear or near clear, then your hydration levels are great. If it is more on the yellow side, then drink up!
One way of drinking more water is to choose water instead of a soft drink or juice. If you want something a little different, then add some fruit to your water for a different taste. Common ones include lemon and mint, cucumber, orange, and even blueberries. Experiment and try out different flavors!
4. It’s ok to treat yourself
Try to stay away from processed foods for the majority of your diet. However, this doesn’t mean you should completely shun things like simple carbs and bad fats. While it is best to keep them at a minimum, completely eliminating them from your diet can lead to intense cravings and binge eating. Keep to the 80/20 rule where 80% of your diet is healthier foods and the remaining 20% are little treats for yourself.
Change your diet with Jefit
Jefit is a workout app that comes equipped with a customizable workout planner, scheduler, as well as a community filled with like-minded people. With a members-only Facebook page, you can be sure to find easy dieting tips, advice, motivational stories about changing your diet, training, and general health and fitness tips.
The USDA releases an updated nutrition and healthy eating guide every five years. At the core of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans is eating patterns and the relationship with food and nutrients. The individual goal for this work is to adhere to eating patterns that promote health and prevent chronic disease across a lifespan.
The healthy eating patterns recommended in this 8th edition were developed by integrating findings from systematic reviews of scientific research. In addition, food pattern modeling, and analyses of current intake of the U.S. population were also looked at. The evidence shows that “healthy eating
patterns are associated with positive health outcomes.”
Healthy Eating Pattern Defined
According to the authors of this DGA report, “healthy eating patterns support a healthy body weight. It can also help prevent and reduce the risk of chronic disease throughout periods of growth and development.” An eating pattern represents all the foods and beverages you consume. All foods consumed as part of a healthy eating pattern fit together like a puzzle to meet nutritional needs without exceeding limits. This is especially true in regard to saturated fats, added sugars, sodium, and total calories.
The Five Components Needed
- Follow a Healthy Eating Pattern Across the Lifespan. A healthy eating pattern includes plenty of protein, grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy and oils. It limits saturated and trans fats, added sugars, and sodium.
- Focus on Variety, Nutrient Density, and Amount. Meet nutrient needs within calorie limits, choose a variety of nutrient dense foods across and within all food groups in recommended amounts.
- Limit Calories from Added Sugars and Saturated Fats and Reduce Sodium Intake. Consume an eating pattern low in added sugars, saturated fats, and sodium.
- Shift to Healthier Food and Beverage Choices. Replace typical food and beverage choices with more nutrient-dense options. Be sure to consider personal preferences to maintain shifts over time.
- Support Healthy Eating Patterns for All. Each one of us can play a major role in helping to create and support healthy eating patterns in multiple settings around us. This includes from home to school to work to our communities.
Final Notes on Eating Healthy
A healthy eating pattern, or style, includes the following:
- A variety of vegetables from all of the subgroups (dark green, red and orange, legumes, and starches).
- Fruits, especially whole fruit.
- Grains, half of which are whole grains.
- Fat-free or low-fat dairy, including milk, yogurt, cheese, and/or fortified soy beverages.
- A variety of protein foods, including seafood, lean meats, poultry, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), nuts, seeds, and soy products.
A healthy eating pattern limits the following:
- Limit saturated fats and trans fats, added sugars, and sodium. A number of studies have shown an association between increased intake of trans fats and an increase risk of CVD.
- Consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from added sugars.
- Eat less than 10 percent of calories per day from saturated fats.
- Consume less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day of sodium.
- Limit consumption of dietary cholesterol to 300 mg per day.
- If alcohol is consumed, it should be consumed in moderation (up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men).
- Moderate coffee consumption (three to five 8-oz cups/day or providing up to 400 mg/day of caffeine) can be part of healthy eating patterns.
Avoid the Halo Effect
This refers to someone who eats healthy foods but goes overboard on portion sizes. As a result, they end up consuming too many calories for the day. Try the following: protein should be the size of your smartphone, all carbs should be the size of your fist, and fruits and veggies should cover the rest of your plate. This is an easy way to visualize what a healthy meal looks like. Also, you’ve heard, the the more colorful your plate, the more nutrients you’ll be eating.
Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Go Hand-in-Hand.
In addition to having a healthy eating style or pattern, we all need to also meet the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Regular physical activity is one of the most important things we can do to improve our overall health. Adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity (or 75 minutes of vigorous activity) and should perform strength training on 2 or more days each week, using the Jefit app to plan, log, track and share your workouts. Stay strong!
Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020, 8th Edition. USDA: DietaryGuidelines.gov