The Effects of Sugar on the Body

Hi All!

I hope that this doesn’t sound too preachy…You know I love a cookie now and again! This is just a little reminder

It can be easy to overindulge during the holiday season. Now that we are all getting back into a regular routine, I wanted to send out a little friendly reminder about the effects of sugar on the body and how detrimental it can be to our overall health. 

Why is sugar so illusive? When we consume sugar, for a short time we feel great! They call it a “sugar high” for a reason! Humans are programmed to enjoy the taste of sugar because it is calorically dense. Before the rise of the grocery store, energy-dense food was harder to come by, so when we found it, we were programmed to celebrate it! We used to need to literally store up our body fat for a long winter. We are now trying to outrun our primitive response to calorically dense foods!

Here is a basic view of what happens in the body when we eat sugar. When sugar-rich foods hit the stomach, they are broken down by acid and enzymes into smaller pieces. The food is then sent on to the small intestine where it is broken down further into glucose and fructose. Glucose is then sent into the blood stream and liver, spiking our blood sugar level. The pancreas is stimulated and produces insulin to ‘file away’ the glucose for later use in the liver, muscle, and fat cells. This lowers the blood sugar levels that were just raised, resulting in a feeling of lethargy, hunger, irritability, headache, fatigue, confusion, difficulty concentrating, and anxiety. No, thank you!!!

Consumption of sugar can lead to weight gain. It also wreaks havoc on our liver, impairs brain function, causes inflammation throughout the body, and confuses our metabolism. Excess sugar intake leaves us susceptible to heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Our hard-working livers are responsible for many functions in the body, including extracting nutrients from foods, producing bile to help the body break down fat, filtering chemicals and toxins out of the blood, and storing glucose. When we eat sugar on a regular basis, our liver can become overloaded with glucose. When this happens, the liver has to export the glucose by storing it in other parts of the body in the form of fat. Fat can also remain in the liver. Over time, this can develop into non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

What happens to the brain when we consume sugar? When we first consume sugar, the tongue’s taste receptors are stimulated (as they are with any food that we eat) and the signals from the taste buds are sent to the brain lighting up the reward pathways and causing a surge of “happy” hormones like dopamine. We produce dopamine whenever we eat food, but more is released when we consume sugar, which is where the term ‘sugar high’ comes from. Sugar hijackes our our natural reward hormone pathways, so over time we feel that we need more sugar to recreate that hormone surge. This overexposure to sugar reduces our bodies’ ability to produce dopamine and we feel that we need more sugar to achieve that same happy feeling. This is the same reaction that our body has to drugs, and yet sugar seems so innocent! Super scary!!!

Heavy sugar intake causes a resistance to insulin (a hormone that controls blood sugar and regulates function of brain cells). Insulin strengthens the synaptic connection between brain cells. A resistance to insulin can lower levels cognition and brain function. Of course, we also know that type 2 diabetes can develop as our insulin resistance increases.

I need a little reminder now and again that food is fuel. It is so easy to get into the cycle of overindulgence. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes you NEED the cookie, and that is A-ok! Just make sure that you don’t punish yourself afterwards. That sets up a negative reward cycle that is so tough to outrun. I like to follow the 90/10 rule. Eat nutrient-rich foods that are fuel for the body 90 percent of the time. For the other 10 percent of the time, allow yourself to have the treats that you love!  It’s all about balance. 🙂

I’d love to hear about how you find balance! Comment with your healthy plans/strategies below. 🙂

Until next time!

xo Lara

New Year’s Fitness Resolution Tricks!

Hello Beauties!

Happy New Year!!! I’m sure that many of you are in full swing of your new years resolution. Let’s be frank…it can be tricky to keep up these perfect resolutions as real life starts to get in the way. You know what I’m talking about! Here are a couple of tricks and tips to stay on track! 🙂

1) Aim for a “a little better” instead of “perfect”
It is so easy to fall into the trap of…well if I can’t eat perfectly today, then I’ll just count this as a “cheat” day and start tomorrow. (BTW…I HATE the term cheat day! If you set up your mindset as cheating vs not cheating, you are set up for failure. Rant complete. ;))

2) Eat breakfast with protein
Every nutritionist is going to tell you to eat breakfast. It’s the most important meal of the day! It is completely true! If I don’t start the day with a protein rich breakfast, I am inevitably starving by 10:30am and ready to run towards a quick energy lifter which is almost always something carb-heavy because your brain is ready for a serotonin bump which is easily and quickly delivered by taking in carbohydrates or sugars. Eat breakfast! Oatmeal with almond butter, apples, and cinnamon 🙂

3) Exercise whenever and wherever possible!
I completely planned to get up early to get in an extra run this morning…but the snooze button seduced me! We’ve all been there. When you miss your workout, don’t beat yourself up or say that you’ll just get back on track later. Instead, take the stairs a couple of extra times today. Need to use the restroom and you work on the 5th floor? Don’t use the restroom down the hall, go down to the first floor and take the stairs back up! Need to fit in a little ab work? Focus on tightening your abdominals in the car on the way home. At stop lights, put the car in park and use the abdominal muscles to lift your knees. Park in the back of the lot at the grocery store to get in a few extra steps. No excuses. 🙂

Come Get TORCHED!!!

New Year’s Letter To My Future Self

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Hello Beauties!

Happy New Year!!!

I wanted to share one of my favorite New Years traditions. Each year on New Year's Day, I write myself a letter that I will open on the last day of that following year.  I congratulate my future self for overcoming specific fears, or achieving career and personal goals, or for having bucket-list experiences. It is a way that I like to manifest my goals and desires for the upcoming year. A longtime client and great friend shared this exercise with me 6 years ago, and I thought that it was such a beautiful idea. I have continued the exercise each year since.

On New Years Eve, I open my letter from the previous year and see which goals I have achieved, as well as which goals I am still in the process of achieving. It is also interesting to see if there were goals that I have outgrown or no longer need. It is so exciting to open the letter and to see how I have grown or changed over the last year.

Every year, there are goals that I haven't yet accomplished...that's okay!!! It is just further motivation to prioritize those goals for the upcoming year.

Give it a try! 🙂 Set your conscious intention for the upcoming year.  Important note...tuck your letter away in a location where you will be able to find a year from now! I have had to hunt for mine in years past, and now hide it from myself in the bottom of my jewelry box. 😉

 

2016 Journal

 

I hope that you all had a great holiday season, and I wish you a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2016!

xo Lara

Staying on Track During The Holidays

Hello Lovelies!

Ok, this is a super popular blog topic, but I had to throw in my two cents. I can’t tell you how many blogs I’ve read and they all say the same thing. Eat a snack before you go to your holiday parties so that you don’t arrive ravenous. Drink a glass of water between cocktails. Don’t get me wrong, these are great ideas and completely applicable, but lets address a few more.

We have all been to a holiday party and have overindulged. The next morning can be a struggle. After a night out, I am not motivated to get up, get in my morning workout and meditation when all I want to do is get an extra hour of sleep. Here are a couple of tricks and tips to combat that…

1) Drink a tall glass of water before bed.
2) When the alarm goes off in the morning. Don’t fight your bodies need to wake up slowly! Budget the time to set your snooze (Just once!) and lie in bed setting your mindset and plan for the day. Envision your glowing skin after your workout. Envision yourself relaxed and at ease during your drive to work because you’ve completed your meditation and time to center yourself.
3) Only ask yourself for a 10-minute workout. You may decide that you’d like to keep going at the end of 10 minutes, but you set yourself up for failure if you tell yourself that you have to workout for a full hour. It feels daunting, like staring up at a tall hill at the beginning of your workout. Once you get going though, I bet you’ll find that you want to continue to push a little harder. 🙂
4) Get up and drink another tall glass of water…not coffee. Water. Hydrate your skin and gently get your system going. I love to squeeze a little lemon in the glass as well. This is a great trick for starting your day in an alkaline state.
5) Don’t skimp on your meditation. Try the same technique that you used with your workout. Only ask yourself for a 5-minute breathing session. You may feel centered after 5 minutes, or you may want to continue and complete 10-20 minutes.

Have a wonderful holiday season! Enjoy your friends and family, treat your body with kindness, and remind yourself that you can create stillness in the midst of holiday chaos. 🙂
Til next time!

xo Lara

Baby it's cold outside