Is sugar good for you?
Carbohydrates found in natural foods, and eaten in moderate amounts, aren’t inherently bad for our health. From a pure biological perspective, we don’t necessarily NEED to consume sugar or any form of carbohydrate. So, if we don’t need it – then how can we make sugar and carbs a more supportive part of our healthy routine?
Sugars can give us quick energy. Think of sugar like “jumpstarting your car”. If you are low in energy – a bit of sugar can be helpful in initially jumpstarting your energy levels. However, if you do not pair those sugars with protein and fat (our longer-term energy sources), you may experience a rush of energy followed by a sudden crash.
Here are a few strategies to make peace with sugar in your diet.
Pair Your Carbohydrate with Fat and Protein
Pair your carbohydrates (sugar) with fats and proteins. This allows energy to be released into your body slowly, leaving you feeling satiated, energized, and free from hunger and cravings.
We recommend looking for carbohydrate foods that ALSO contain protein, fat, and or fiber (termed as “slow carbohydrates” in our Facebook community). For example: fruits and vegetables (eaten with the skin for fiber), dairy products (also high in fat and/or protein), and whole grains (high in fiber). These foods should be consumed in a balanced meal with other sources of protein, fats, and non-starchy vegetables (for fiber). Some examples may include…
- Apple with greek yogurt and cashews
- Salad with balsamic vinegar (higher in sugars), chicken, and goat cheese
- Brown rice with salmon, avocado, and cooked vegetables
Eat the Carbs Last
Did you know that eating carbohydrates or sugars at the end of the meal slows your metabolic response to them? This results in fewer blood sugar swings. That means you are less likely to experience the sugar high followed by the crash that can come with eating simple carbohydrates.
How Much Sugar is Recommended in the Always Hungry? Solution?
Sugars are greatly reduced in Phase 1. During this phase, you can enjoy non-tropical fruits, beans/legumes, bean/legume based flours, and pureed vegetable soups (using non-starchy vegetables). This phase allows your body to adapt to using fats as a primary source of fuel. Refraining from simple carbs also helps your taste buds adjust to the taste of lower sugar/higher fat foods. At the end of Phase 1, you may be surprised how sweet previously “normal” foods taste (ie: ketchup, condiments, tropical fruits, and starchy vegetables).
Carbohydrate options expand in Phase 2 to include whole grains, starchy vegetables, and small amounts of natural sugars. Natural sugars are increased to a maximum of 12 grams per day (equivalent to 3 teaspoons per day). It is recommended to choose honey or maple syrup as your sugar of choice. Increase your carbohydrate consumption slowly and reflect on how each new food makes you feel. Are you hungrier than before? Do you have more cravings? Are your energy levels lower later in the day? Reflecting on how your body feels will provide you with valuable insights as to how your body reacts to higher sugar foods.
In Phase 3, you should feel educated and empowered about your food choices. In this Phase, you have the ability to choose which carbohydrates your body feels best with. We always recommend choosing high quality foods (minimally processed) and we imagine that most people will feel their best with limited added sugars in their diet. However, this is yours to discover – and we encourage you to spend time reflecting, observing, and finding your best “food fit”.
What about artificial sugars?
As artificial sugars become more popular in the food industry, we now must consider how they make our bodies feel. We do not recommend artificial sugars in Phase 1. During this phase, artificial sweeteners may not allow your taste buds to adjust to less sweet/higher fat foods – thus preventing some of the benefits and purpose of Phase 1.
During Phase 2 and Phase 3, we recommend avoiding most artificial sweeteners – with the exception of SMALL amounts of stevia. Please understand that long-term health implications of artificial sugars are not well-understood. Therefore, in both Phase 2 and Phase 3, we recommend opting for honey and maple syrup as your primary sweeteners.
You can read more about our view on artificial sweeteners on our FAQ page >>
*This blog post was written by Coach Kenzie Osborne and Chef Dawn Ludwig.