Not all sugars are created equal, and they’re hidden in most of today’s processed foods. Nutritionist, fitness trainer, and author JJ Virgin has written a new book that helps open your eyes to the way sugars are hidden.
The book also provides practical tips on how to wean yourself from this pernicious ingredient that will decimate your health.
In The Sugar Impact Diet: Drop 7 Sugars to Lose Up to 10 Pounds in Just 2 Weeks, she tackles the confusion surrounding sugar. Many health-conscious people are still under the mistaken belief that as long as the sugar is all-natural, it’s fine to eat.
Not so. Agave, natural fruit juice, raw cane sugar, and any number of other natural sugars will still wreak havoc on your health.
“[S]ugar is really public enemy number one,”she says. “That’s why I chose to focus on it. I don’t think added sugar is really the problem; I think it’s what’s in a lot of our food that we don’t recognize [as sugar].
Whether it’s having apple juice (which is worse for you than a soda), or having a yogurt sweetened with fruit juice concentrate, or whether you’re just thinking that fruits are free for all, these are all creating problems.
I wanted to create a structured program that could help someone break free of those sugar cravings, drop the weight forever, and then let them go back and [do a food] challenge… in order to connect the dots between what happens when they drink one of those big fruit smoothies that are supposed to be so healthy.”
To End Sugar Cravings, Your Body Needs to Burn Fat as Its Primary Fuel
As JJ notes, whether the sugar comes in the form of a muffin, a fruit juice-sweetened yogurt, or a smoothie, it’s all the same thing to your body. “Food is information,” she says. And she’s right.
Once you break free from your body’s constant need for yet another sugar fix (remember, sugar is more addictive than cocaine!), you’ll experience great levels of newfound energy and clarity of mind. But in order to get there, you need to retrain your body to burn fat as its primary form of fuel instead of sugar.
This can be a real challenge for many. JJ’s book specifically addresses the gradual process of getting from burning sugar to burning fat as your body’s primary fuel, in order to maximize your chances for success.
“There’s got to be a transition period, where you go from sugar burner to getting your body to be able to start to burn fat again,”she explains.
“You have to taper down from where your starting point is, which is what I call a Sneaky Sugar Inventory, of things you would never think about (like sundried tomatoes and marinara sauce) that we’re just using like crazy not realizing how much sugar this is actually adding into our food.”
The Sugar Impact Scales: A New Way of Looking at Sugar
As an initial step, you’ll want to weigh yourself and measure your waist-to-hip ratio, to determine your starting point. Next, you do an initial inventory of all the hidden sugars in your diet.
This means reading the labels on all the foods you eat, including items you might never expect to contain sugar, such as that jar of pickles, condiments, sauces, and marinades, and so on. JJ lists all the sneaky places sugars hide in your diet in her book, and by creating what she calls Sugar Impact Scales, she’s created a new way of looking at sugar.
“It looks at fructose grams, glycemic load, nutrient density, and fiber. Bad are fructose and glycemic load; good are nutrient density and fiber,” she explains.
“Depending on where the food falls, it can either be low, medium, or high-sugar impact. The reason this was so important to me is I keep looking at programs out there, and they either focus on fructose… glycemic index, or glycemic load.
That can be very confusing because it makes things like agave sweetener look great. It makes milk look great… People go, ‘We should have fructose because fructose is low on the glycemic index.’
The difference between fructose and glucose is fructose doesn’t trigger the whole insulin response. Because of that, it doesn’t trigger insulin, leptin, or ghrelin, so it doesn’t tell your body you ate anything. Instead, it just goes to the liver. If there’s no room for it to become glycogen… it starts becoming fat.
You look at that and you go, ‘Okay, food is information. What does fructose say?’ It says, ‘Hey, make fat but don’t tell us we ate. Stay hungry.’ What a nightmare!”
So what are the basic symptoms of having high-sugar impact? Gas and bloating are common, as sugar feeds yeast, fungi, and detrimental bacteria in your gut. Other symptoms include joint pain, headaches, fatigue, inability to lose weight or weight loss resistance, and sugar cravings.
By grading yourself on those and other symptoms, while tracking your waist, hip, and weight, you’ll get a clearer picture of how sugar impacts your body, and your progress in terms of retraining your body to burn fat instead of sugar as its primary fuel.
The Three Cycles of the Sugar Impact Diet
The first cycle is a one to two-week long taper cycle, in which you switch from high sugar impact foods to medium sugar impact foods. As an example, if you typically eat regular pasta, you’d switch over to quinoa pasta.
She also recommends scheduling your meals to where you’re not eating every two hours; rather you stretch the time between meals to prevent insulin spikes. This is one form of intermittent fasting. At the end of this taper-down period of one or two weeks, you retest yourself on the sugar impact quiz, to see how you’ve done.
Writyen by Dr. Mercola
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