Sugar at Supper

Sugar at Supper

Question:

Hi Kelli.  I feel like I eat a pretty health supper with things like pasta and meat sauce quite often, but I also don’t feel like I’m losing the weight that I’d like.  Any advice?

Kelli’s Answer:

Good to hear from you.  Food such as white pasta and dinner rolls are examples of grains that have been refined, and in your body, they are no different than sugar!  The next time you look down at your plate full of white pasta, picture it as sugar because that’s essentially what it is in your body.

Why?

Take a look at grains’ and sugar’s fast-track through your body, and your fast-track to a lot of extra fat and disease:

As stated above, refined grains begin breaking down chemically in your mouth.  That’s right, your mouth.  Your saliva actually has enzymes that can break down simple carbohydrate bonds so they don’t even have to wait for your stomach to disassemble.  Once they travel down your esophagus to your stomach, your stomach has a very easy task of liquefying them and sending them to your intestines.  Your intestines are able to absorb them, almost 100% of them, and send them to your liver.  Your liver repackages them and sends them out to your bloodstream so they can be used or absorbed into fat cells.  Since this whole process can take as little as 15-20 minutes (even less if the carbs are in liquid form in a drink), your body has to deal with them quickly so that your blood sugars stay normalized.  If you happened to be running or engaging in another high-intensity activity when you ate them, good for you because they were likely used and not stored.  If not, if you were sitting on your backside, guess where they were stored…

You guessed it… somewhere around your backside.  Or your stomach or thighs or arms.  White carbohydrates, both refined grains and sugars, will absolutely sabotage your fat loss efforts.  Every time you eat them, they require an increased need for insulin in your body (insulin is what allows the sugar to leave your bloodstream and enter your cells).  Extra insulin causes your body to store excess fat and inhibits fat breakdown.  And, the more insulin your body needs and uses, the more the cells resist it, and the more insulin it requires!  The more it requires, the more it resists, and before many Americans know it, they are “insulin resistant!” Once this happens, it is much harder for the body to lose fat effectively.  And, it’s associated an increased risk of Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome, Cardiovascular issues, Obesity, etc.

I believe in cutting back on carbs for fat loss because they reduce your body’s need for insulin (this applies to an athlete’s Daily Nutrition plan, not Training Nutrition).  Done right, this plan usually promotes relatively quick fat loss and  provides all the nutrients needed.  To cut back, still eat a few (healthy carb) servings of fruits per day, and all the salad-type vegetables you want.  Meals should be made up of mostly protein, vegetables, and healthy fats.  If you are an avid athlete, you can also add one serving of grains, beans or starchy vegetables to meals (1/2 cup cereal, 1 slice whole-wheat bread, 1/2 cup whole wheat pasta, 1/2 cup beans, 1/2 yam) – but, rely more on beans and starchy vegetables than grains to reduce inflammation in your body.  And of course, your Training Nutrition – what you eat immediately before, during, and after training – MUST contain quick-acting carbs in order to provide efficient energy.   In this case, they are “used” quickly and do not cause the same damage. And before a “big” training or event, you can stock up on carbs by doubling your intake of whole-food carbs the night before.    Remember, Training Nutrition and Daily Nutrition are somewhat opposites.

You’ve heard of the Black Plague, I’m suggesting this is the “White Plague.” Avoid or minimize these “white foods” in Daily Nutrition.  They won’t do you any good and they will do you a lot of harm.  Just like a plate full of sugar.

Please send us your questions for our Expert Sports Nutritionist, Kelli Jennings to “Ask the Sports Nutritionist“. Kelli Jennings is a Registered Dietitian with a passion for healthy eating, wellness, & sports nutrition. For more information go to www.apexnutritionllc.com.