IS ALL SUGAR THE SAME?
We’ve probably all heard that sugar is “bad for us”. Sugar has been shown to increase your risk of type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. cutting back on sugar may lead to tons of benefits for your body, including lower blood pressure, reduced risk of cancer, a sharper brain, clearer skin, and fewer cravings. So, we try to avoid added sugar in candy and other products, but does this mean you should avoid fruits which are naturally high in sugar?
There’s not a big difference in the way your body treats sugar found naturally in fruit and sugar added to candy and cookies, at least from a chemical standpoint, says Rania Batayneh, M.P.H, nutritionist and author of The One One One Diet. “Both of these sugars are ultimately broken down into fructose and glucose, which are metabolized the same once they reach your gut,” she says.
What does differ: how fast they’re broken down. “Because the sugar in fruits is paired with fiber and water, it’s released much more slowly into your body, providing you with a consistent stream of energy,” Batayneh says. “Added sugar, without fiber and water, is broken down immediately, leading to a surge in insulin and blood sugar levels. As a result, you don’t feel full at all—you just crave more sugar.”
One way to monitor naturally-occurring sugars is the idea of using glycemic index (GI). This is a ranking of foods based on how much it raises our blood sugar levels. GI can help to determine appropriate amounts of natural sugars. Bananas and watermelon provide a good example of a way to bring GI into your decision-making. The medium banana contains 14 grams of naturally occurring sugar. But partly because of its good fiber content (3 grams), it qualifies as a low GI fruit. By contrast, one cup of watermelon contains less naturally occurring sugar (9-10 grams); yet, partly because of its much lower fiber content (about 1/2 gram), it has a medium GI value and for that reason can be challenging to our blood sugar level. So, even though the banana is higher in sugar, it is less likely to raise our blood sugar because of the fiber content; thus the banana is the better choice.
Bottomline: Eating fruit in moderation is fine for most people; however, the more fiber and the lower the GI, the better will be the fruit choice.
FITNESS HUMOR: “I do 5 sit-ups every monring. It doesn’t sound like much, but there are only so many times you can hit the snooze button.”
DON’T STOP RESISTANCE TRAINNG IF YOU WANT TO LOSE WEIGHT (PART TWO)
Last month the first part of this article explained the benefits of resistance training for weight loss and health. Part Two further explains the reasons why resistance training is important.
Why aerobic exercise is not enough – “But,” the question goes, “Can’t I just go for a run and build muscle? I’m using muscles when I run!”
The answer is NO! Running or other aerobic exercise is not a replacement for resistance training. They are different exercises and provide different benefits. Aerobic exercise does not deliver the needed stress to your bones, muscles and tendons.
In order to build strength, you have to pull hard on tendons, do microscopic damage to your muscles and literally bend your bones. Going out for a run or putting in an hour on the treadmill will not do this sufficiently.
This is not to say that aerobic exercise is not important: it is! But it is not resistance training. You need both. And if you omit one, you do your body a great disservice.
Avoid the “skinny fat” syndrome – Another danger of focusing on cardio or aerobic exercise to the exclusion of resistance training is becoming what is known as “skinny fat.” Skinny fat is a condition in which a person appears thin on the outside, but inside they are unhealthy and at risk for illness.
If you are losing weight through diet and exercise but not simultaneously doing resistance training, you are not only losing fat: you are losing muscle as well. Your body will burn through your muscles tissue as surely as it will burn through your fat. As you lose muscle, you lose a major source of energy, and you lose tone and definition.
Further, as you lose muscle, your bones become weak, because they do not have to do as much work. Weak bones are a precursor to osteoporosis.
Hidden fat is also a risk for the “skinny fat” person. When 800 slim people underwent an MRI scan to check for visceral or hidden fat, 45% were found to have excessive amounts of internal fat, undetectable from the outside1. Visceral fat is the most dangerous fat to have, because it accumulates around organs such as the pancreas, heart and liver and then begins releasing hormones and other secretions that lead to disease.
Resistance training can reduce visceral fat and help prevent the additional formation around the organs.
Don’t give up your resistance training just because spring is here and you are eager to get outside. There is no substitute for lifting heavy weights 2 to 3 times each week. Your health is on the line.