You are going to exchange the sweets for something even sweeter: increase your performance from the office to your room.
9 min read
The opinions expressed by collaborators are personal.
No matter how excited you are about what you do to live, tiredness reaches us all, and at some point, you get sick and you get tired of feeling … sick and tired. The question is: what can I do about it? As a health and wellness editor, I've offered a fair amount of self-care advice, and I believe in your ability to avoid burnout and fatigue. I also know that getting relaxation time is more difficult than getting a bottle of Purell during a viral pandemic.
Working less is not a realistic option for many of us.
So what is it? Change the way you eat, specifically, cut back on added sugars. While writing my new book, Sugar Free 3: The 3-Week Plan for More Energy, Better Sleep Surprisingly Easy Weight Loss , I discovered how flagellating sugar can be, weakening our health and vitality when we consume it in excess … something that everyone we make. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the maximum calories from added sugars you should be eating per day is 100-150. Put another way, under US regulations, less than 10 percent of our daily caloric intake should come from added sugars. However, a new Tufts study says 42 percent of our daily calories come from simple carbohydrates like refined grains and added sugars.
So I devised a plan, with the help of several well-accredited wellness professionals, to get sugar out of your diet. It's not about following a fad or a limited list of allowed foods (grapefruit for breakfast, lunch, and dinner — something I go through). Instead, I invite you to eat whole, delicious foods (lean protein, healthy fats, vegetables, whole grains, dairy) that will keep you satisfied. And you can consume them until your stomach is happy, because you don't have to be counting calories or thinking about eating small portions. Translation: you will never feel angry from hunger.
Know your enemy (ingredient)
To be clear, Sugar Free 3 focuses on removing added sugars from your diet, as well as its evil twins: refined carbohydrates and artificial sweeteners. Added sugars are sugars that are added to foods when preparing or processing them, as opposed to natural sugar that comes in an apple or glass of milk. Refined carbohydrates are processed foods that have been depleted of nutrients. For example, to make white bread, manufacturers take away the good: the outer covering of a grain of wheat (known as bran) and the germ, before the remaining internal endosperm turns into flour. Artificial sugars are chemicals that can be infinitely sweeter than sugar.
None of these ingredients has nutritional value … They are empty calories .
The problem: avoiding these useless foods is much more difficult than it seems. The reason we are consuming so much more sugar than we imagine is because it is hidden in so many foods, some of which we don't even consider sweet. Food scientists create products that have the right amount of sweetener so you want to keep eating more … and more … and then put it on everything from soda to pasta sauce and salad dressing. In the Sugar Free 3 videos in the Openfit app , I ask nutritionist Keri Glassman to help me learn to read a food label to identify hidden sugars. (The program can be done through the book or in the digital streaming app). Once you learn how to do it, you can be smarter than the cunning food pack, how about that for a confidence boost?
The myth of energy
In addition to eating too much sugar without knowing it (which makes us want even more), our desire for sugar is an innate, albeit dated, survival mechanism. “In cave times, when we were stressed, let's say running away from some predator, we used up a lot of energy,” says Glassman. “To replenish that energy, we were looking for natural sugar in things like blackberries to get immediate fuel. The problem today is that we are stressed, yes, but we are sitting on our behinds at the desk or on the sofa and we do not need to hunt for food, but it is right in front of us, in the form of sugary and processed foods. And when we have too much of that in our body it is stored as fat. ”
And that's just to start. Excess sugar consumption has been associated with chronic health conditions such as type 2 diabetes and obesity, in addition to contributing to unstable moods, skin problems, sleep disorders, and lack of energy. In fact, the age-old belief that eating a sugary treat can fix that lack of energy in the late afternoon is a complete fallacy, especially in adulthood. In fact, if you eat a donut you are more likely to sleep. Many studies show that orexin, a brain chemical that makes you feel awake, is inhibited when you eat sugar. A 2019 meta-analysis of 31 studies published in the journal Neuroscience Behavioral Reviews found that simple carbohydrates like sugar decrease alertness and increase fatigue an hour after being consumed.
These findings are consistent with the group studies we did for the Sugar Free 3 program. In the initial group, 80 percent of participants reported feeling more energetic, and subsequent participants reported similar results. Extra energy and better sleep were some of the first benefits that I personally experienced when I started eating without sugar. It makes sense. With no added sugars to trigger a short-term “energy” boost before going to bed, we can naturally shut down, leading to more stable energy levels when it matters most, during the day!
Better mental power … and better sex!
When it comes to preserving health, it is not smart to ignore how harmful sugar is. And the more you consume, the worse decisions you make. How? There is plenty of research supporting the deteriorating impact that sugar can have, including a study in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease that associated mild cognitive decline in older people who ate a diet high in carbohydrates and low in protein and fat. Another study in Clinical Interventions in Aging surveyed more than 1,200 adults over the age of 60 and found a connection between “excessive sugar intake” and poor cognitive function.
But problems with sugar don't just come with old age. A study in the British Journal of Nutrition , conducted on more than 7,000 people between the ages of 45 and 70, also found a link between high sugar infestation and declining cognitive functions. The study did not determine whether excess sugar caused a lack of mental acuity or whether a lack of mental acuity caused excessive sugar consumption. Chicken or egg, less smart people tend to eat a lot of sugar. So if you feel half slow, or poorly focused during the day, I can say that those who stopped eating sugar managed to clear their heads.
If clear thinking is not enough motivation, perhaps this is more appealing: cutting sugar can be a boon for your sex life. High sugar intake negatively affects your energy levels, and we all know that lack of energy affects the desire to do things. Lethargy is one of the main reasons that sex life fades, especially for long-term couples.
And if you're a man, too much sugar can have an even worse effect. According to a study published in the journal Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology in 2018, men who consume sugary drinks have lower testosterone levels than those who refrain from drinking them. My best tip for more energy and better performance? Leave the sugar out of bed!