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Wellness Wednesday: Sugar is Everywhere

A long time ago, high sugar or "energy foods" would have been a reward or used to refuel our bodies after a long journey or a hard day of work.

Now, we start our day with 50 grams or nearly ten teaspoons or more of sugar in a tall caramel drink from the local coffee shop, followed by a bagel or muffin. Then, at lunch, we have pasta or bread, followed by “energy bars” before sitting down to a carb-heavy dinner. All the while, the only muscles we're likely to have used a lot throughout the day are the ones that control our fingers to type or text.

The majority of the work force in this day and age does not use a lot of energy compared to our counterparts one hundred years ago. Yet, more high energy food is more readily available. Plus, it’s easier to store longer and it’s cheaper (Think boxed foods versus vegetables, fruits, raw nuts and meats).

Carbohydrates are the main source of quick-absorbing energy for our body. Yet, they aren’t considered “essential” like proteins and fats (e.g. “essential amino acids” and “essential fatty acids”). We can actually live without ingesting carbohydrates, as our body can use fat and protein to make glucose for the body and brain. It just takes different energy cycles in our body. And face it, most of you aren’t used to it. This is a discussion for another time as this can get very confusing for some.  

But back to my main point: sugar is everywhere. Here are just a few synonyms for sugar:

  • Sucrose

  • Glucose

  • Fructose

  • Maltose

  • Corn syrup

  • Invert sugar

  • Maltodextrin hydrolyzed starch

  • And others

Sweet - It’s what America is used to

Almost every packaged food you consume will have one of the ingredients above added to it to make it a sweeter version of its normal self.

The problem with too much sugar is once the brain has its allotment to fuel our thoughts, it’s the muscles and liver that store blood sugar in the form of glycogen for potential use later when we need it (Think hiking versus typing and sitting).

However, we only have so much storage in muscles and liver. Therefore, once those are full and blood sugar has risen due to overeating of carbs and sugar, insulin must come out to take it somewhere and keep the blood sugar balanced. Guess where it will go if muscle is full?  Fat tissues.

Too much sugar can lead to adult onset or type-2 diabetes. I feel it’s a shame that it is happening to young kids now. But think about it: they are consuming so much sugar since birth causing the receptor sites in the tissues wear out. Think about insulin and muscle cells as the key in the doorlock. If you use it too much, it will wear out. Similar things can happen with blood sugar and insulin when we start becoming “insulin resistant” which some consider a pre-diabetic condition.

Why should you control your sugar and carb intake to keep from developing blood sugar issues? Here are a few dangers of chronically elevated blood sugar levels:

  • Excess fat gain, especially around love handles and your midsection

  • Reduced insulin sensitivity

  • Glycation or the binding of sugar molecules to blood proteins. Glycation can cause vascular disease, erectile dysfunction (No!), joint pain arthritis, and Alzheimer’s.

What you can do

Read labels, keep sugars low, cook more of your own food, drink more water, eat more veggies, salads and fruits, include a protein source at every meal or snack, move or exercise more, snack on low carb foods at night if you have to and DON’T SNACK OUT OF BOREDOM.

If you have any questions (and I’m sure you do), feel free to tag me on Facebook or e-mail me and I’ll try to answer them for you! Here’s to a healthier and more active Northern Kentucky community!

- Joe Daniels is the owner of SwingThis Kettlebell and Strength Studio in Latonia. Questions for Joe? E-mail him at [email protected].

Bored with bodybuilding after reaching the national level in 2009, Joe Daniels opened SwingThis Kettlebell and Strength. From becoming an IKFF Coach operating in an 800 sq. ft. studio, the benefits of a minimal yet highly effective approach to fitness has grown to a 5,500 sq. ft. functional training facility within four years. 

Focusing on injury prevention, competitive kettlebell sport training and stress relief, SwingThis Kettlebell and Strength has hosted seminars and trained hands-on with some of the top athletes and coaches of the kettlebell world. Their philosophy has remained the same: You have to enjoy your training at all stages. Live your life. Your training should make your life outside that time more enjoyable and fulfilling.