Monday, June 2, 2014

I Quit Sugar…

I've actually been thinking about this blog post for a while now, but wanted to make sure I felt well informed before posting about it.  See, I've been doing this experiment for the past couple of months…I quit sugar!  Now before you go all "you crazy", "that is impossible", etc let me explain.  I actually quit fructose, which is a type of sugar found EVERYWHERE.  It is part of sucrose (all table sugars), honey, agave, fruits, and in virtually every single processed food in America.

How did I come to this decision and life change? Well it all started with a little book author talk I attended at the Book Larder a while back for a book by Sarah Wilson called "I Quit Sugar."  This lady was super inspirational, super duper smart, and it was 100% obvious she did all her homework on this topic. After listening to her speak and devouring her book I began to find all sorts of other information online and began to wonder why I haven't really been exposed to this before?  I highly recommend this book if you are even curious about this topic, it is very easy to read and follow and the recipes so far are to die for (I've made coconut curry meatballs, one of the hash recipes, sweet potato casserole, and from her website vegan chocolate mousse).

There really is SOO much information and science behind why our bodies literally cannot process fructose but in an attempt to learn everything for myself I'll try to break it down simply and provide some resources at the end if you want to go crazy and learn about it yourself…like me :).

Why is fructose bad?

David Gillespie breaks it down in picture form (source)

1. The ONLY part of our body that can process fructose is the liver and it cannot be used by ANY other part of our bodies for energy.  The liver is the organ that takes in toxins…fructose = toxin.
2. When we eat too much (and we ALL do) fructose is converted into fat droplets in the liver…making us fatter.  See science here.
3. Fructose DOES NOT activate the enzyme that makes us feel full (leptin for you science nerds out there) so we can eat and eat and eat it without feeling full. See science here.

Where is fructose in my food?

From the I Quit Sugar website (source)

In a nutshell, everywhere!  Sugar (sucrose) is 50% fructose, 50% glucose. Glucose good (body uses it all over for energy), fructose bad!  You know that agave stuff touted to be a healthy alternative to other sugars??…it is 90% fructose, so really it is the worst for you.   Sugar is the cheapest thing in America to produce/process/sell so it is in virtually every processed food product out there. Some of the more not so obvious things include most bread, condiments, salad dressings, certain chips/crackers, the list goes on. I challenge you to turn over products next time you are at the grocery store and see which ones have sugar that you didn't think did in the first place.

As you can see in the above graphic there are sugars without fructose…which I plan on discussing another time.

But what about fruit?

Yep, fruit has fructose in it. There are lower and higher fructose fruits and the research/websites out there seem a bit conflicted on whether you should eat fruit or not.  It does appear that most experts agree that minimal fruit is ok, but eating mass quantities of it and especially dried fruit and fruit juice is just as bad for you as drinking a can of coke.  Lower fructose fruits include berries, kiwi, and grapefruit. But keep in mind fructose in fruit is the exact same thing as fructose in table sugar, honey, and agave…bottom line!

How much sugar should I eat?

Does this mean you should consume 0 grams a sugar per day every day for the rest of your life? Absolutely not! BUT the American Heart Association website states:

The American Heart Association recommends that no more than half of your daily discretionary calorie allowance come from added sugars. For most American women, this is no more than 100 calories per day (about 6 teaspoons). For men, it’s no more than 150 calories per day (about 9 teaspoons). 
6-9 teaspoons is about 25 grams per day.  The debate seems to still be out on whether to count fruits in this 25/day rule but Sarah Wilson counts it since fructose is fructose is fructose no matter what form it comes in.  But I say if you replace a bag of M&Ms and a soda everyday with a banana (~14 grams sugar) and an apple (~19 grams) that is a WIN in my book :).  It's all about balance people!
Your daily sugar is in this ONE bag!

How am I feeling?

Um…awesome! I used to feel bloated, uncomfortable, and just blah after almost every meal for such  long time. I experimented with gluten free, dairy free, everything free but since going FRUCTOSE FREE…I have had the least about of stomach issues that I've ever had in my life…SUCCESS!  In fact, I've even added a lot more gluten products back in my life and having zero problems with them.

I admit I'm still not super super strict but I want to learn more and be more strict (and my strict I mean still drink red wine, eat dark chocolate, etc!) with this new lifestyle so I signed up for Sarah Wilson's 8 Week Sugar Detox that I will be starting on June 5.  I plan on documenting it on this blog and provide more information and resources along the way.  I don't intend on preaching about this new lifestyle here in any way, but more documenting my own journey and if people get inspired by it…BONUS!

Other resources if you want to be obsessed like me:

This is really just scraping the surface, I plan on documenting a lot more of what I learn over the next 8 weeks and if you have any questions please let me know!

Oh and that running thing? Yeah, I'm still doing it…trying to just crank out the miles for Ragnar in July which I promise to try and post more about in the near future as well.

QUESTION: Do you have any questions? I'll have access to a whole mess of experts during my 8-week program so feel free to use me to ask them anything you want!


Becky @ RunFunDone said...

I'm confused/skeptical. I'm not convinced that fructose is really that different than other types of sugar. A diabetic checks their blood glucose levels and then drinks juice (100% fructose) to bring up their blood-GLUCOSE levels if they're too low. So...if the types of sugar were super different, then why would fructose be effective for improving glucose levels??? It just doesn't make much sense to me. I agree that reducing the amount of sugar I eat would probably improve my health, I'm just not convinced that targeting a certain type of sugar is better than targeting all sugars.

Lauren said...

Interesting perspective Becky, I'm going to look into this some more! I did a quick google search and it appears that the research is a bit divided on the topic of fructose for diabetic patients as well. Why wouldn't diabetics just consume glucose to improve glucose levels? I agree that reducing all types of sugars is better for you, but from what I've read so far fructose does seem to be the biggest danger as far as sugars go! I'm definitely going to ask some of the experts on this program about diabetics though!

Leslie @ Triathlete Treats said...

This is very interesting!! I can't wait to see how the sugar detox goes!!!