So, you’ve joined CrossFit Bluegrass- you’ve been sweating & swearing and have struggled to get out of bed some days due to sore and tight muscles you’ve never felt before. It’s been a couple months and while you are feeling physically stronger and mentally more confident, you are getting discouraged by the number on the scale that refuses to budge. You’ve been good about coming to CrossFit the recommended days per week (3 on, 1 off) and haven’t changed anything about your diet. What’s the deal? If you’ve added in exercise (or upped the intensity of what you were previously doing), why haven’t you been losing the weight you’d hoped for? It’s probably the result of what you are eating and drinking.
It shouldn’t be a shock to anyone after all the coverage and “awards” we’ve won for being one of the sickest countries on the planet that the diet the average American consumes is extremely unhealthy. Even our “health foods” have questionable nutrition facts & ingredients. Walk into any grocery store aisle, pick up an item and try to pronounce all of the ingredients (bonus points if you know what the hell they are or why they are in that product). Adding this to the increasingly confusing matrix of fad diets, diet supplements, media coverage, and newest breaking science on nutrition can easily frustrate those looking for the “best” diet to feed themselves and their families.
Adding CrossFit to your routine means you are committed to becoming a healthier version of yourself. However, it shouldn’t stop there; diet contributes such a large portion to your overall health & fitness. The coaches at CrossFit Bluegrass want you to surpass all of your goals, so if losing weight, shedding body fat or just cleaning up your diet is one of them, we are all eager to help.
While we aren’t trying to push any specific diet, we do want our members to know one major tweak you can make to your current diet that can make a big difference in how you feel & how your body functions both during WOD’s and in your daily life.
It’s awesome…it’s delicious…it’s addicting…and it’s killing us. While we aren’t going to delve into the science of what this sweet deadly drug does to our bodies on a cellular level, we will touch on the fact that we Americans eat WAY too much of it. It’s easy to do- it is literally in almost all processed foods in one form or another. And it’s so good; I’m sure plenty of members have overheard a conversation or 17 between coaches about wanting donuts, ice cream, pizza (yup, lots of sugar in pizza), cupcakes, etc.…so you know we kind of love it too.
However, what’s one thing you can do to make yourself an even more awesome and healthier individual? Reduce your daily sugar intake. The World Health Organization’s recommended daily allowance of sugar for an adult is ideally 25 grams or about 6 teaspoons per day1. Studies have shown the average American typically consumes between 25-41 teaspoons per day (104-170 grams), well over the WHO guidelines.
If you drink soda (diet or regular), fruit juice, sports drinks, sweet tea, tasty flavored cream in your morning cup of joe- try to cut your consumption in half. After a week or two, try to eliminate these from your diet. Sometimes this is enough of a change to elicit almost immediate weight loss, depending on how much sugar you are consuming in these forms. Even if you aren’t seeking weight loss, you’ll still reap health benefits from the reduction in sugar. Obvious other sources of sugar should also be reduced and then eliminated from daily intake (you know what these are, cakes, cookies, candy, donuts, etc).
If you are eating something that has a label (this includes sauces, dressings, yogurts, and most processed foods), watch out for excessive added sugars or sweeteners. Companies have gotten really good at disguising sugar in their products. Here are just a few of the Trojan horses food manufactures use to hide sugar:
* Agave Nectar
* High-Fructose Corn Syrup
* Fructose, glucose, dextrose (all the “ose’s”)
* Evaporated cane juice
* Fruit juice
* Ethyl maltol
Try not to substitute the “sugar free” or “diet” version of anything either as your body recognizes artificial sweeteners the same way as it does sugar. This can trigger cravings for more of the sweet stuff; not to mention most of these artificial sweeteners were born in a laboratory and are full of chemicals that have the potential for negative long term effects on our bodies.
While we are not saying there is never a time or place for an occasional treat, sweet indulgence, or a moderate amount of sugar in your diet, being aware of the amount you consume on a daily basis is a must. Some scientists have noted the effects of sugar on the brain are very similar to those of cocaine. So it makes sense that when you are first starting to decrease your daily intake of sugar you’ll experience cravings and maybe even withdrawal-like symptoms. Not only will it be physically hard, it will be mentally challenging because you’ll start to recognize just how often sugar is added to everyday foods. However, the cravings will eventually subside, you’ll start feeling better than ever before, and you’ll know what foods to avoid.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to the coaches at CrossFit Bluegrass with nutrition/diet questions. For those of you looking to take your nutrition to the next level, be sure to join in on the new nutrition challenges and programs at CrossFit Bluegrass!