Which holiday really kicks off weight gain and heart disease? Hint, its right around the corner and on every shelf in the store right now.

Halloween is a sneaky, sneaky time of year. It’s scary because it’s the REAL holiday that kicks off an almost three month long weight gain campaign for many people. We often think of weight gain starting around Thanksgiving and continuing on past Christmas, hence the New Years Resolution popularity. But October is particularly tricky, not only because most people don’t equate it with a big feast like Thanksgiving, but also because of the TYPE of “food” that it’s centered around, sugar.

We’re going to take a look at why sugar can sabotage even the healthiest of intentions in small amounts and look at strategies to stop the Halloween Candy monster from knocking at your door, every day all day!

Why is Sugar So Bad?

Many of us understand that excess sugar, in the form of cakes, pies, cookies, candy, etc. will cause weight gain. That’s not news, but many of us don’t realize that sugar intake is also linked to other serious health problems. There are three main areas of concern around sugar: weight gain, blood pressure increases, and heart disease.

Problem 1:  Heart Disease

According to a recent study from the Journal of the American Medical Association, people who ate between 17 and 21 percent of their calories from added sugar had a 38 percent higher risk of dying from heart disease, compared with people who consumed 8 percent or less of their calories from added sugar. In fact, sugar poses so many health threats that the U.S. Dietary Guidelines panel recommended stronger limits on added sugar, which will be released later this year. This is a departure from the guidelines that normally take a hard look at fat and cholesterol.

The proposal recommends limiting added sugars to no more than 10 percent of daily calories. For an individual with a 2000 calorie intake, that’s about 12.5 teaspoons, or 50 grams of sugar a day. Interestingly, the American Heart Association recommends even more strict guidelines, suggesting no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar a day for women, 9 for men.

Problem 2:  Blood Pressure

Did you know that just a few weeks on a high sugar diet can increase both systolic and diastolic blood pressure? Let’s take a look at our Halloween Candy. How many weeks has candy been on the shelf in the stores? At least three! It’s very easy to buy a bag, and eat a few pieces here, and a few pieces there. But it’s quickly going to add up and not only will you blow past the recommended 20-50g a day (depending on the recommendation source), but you can drive your blood pressure up in the process.

Problem 3: Weight Gain

Over the past 30 years, we’ve all gained weight. It’s primarily from excess carbohydrates and sugars, about 250 calories a day worth.   Excess sugar contributes to weight gain because it leads to insulin resistance, hormonal disturbances, doesn’t induce that “feeling of fullness”, AND it’s addictive! It only takes the equivalent of one snack sized chocolate bar at 100 calories a day to sabotage weight loss.

HOW TO BEAT THE HALLOWEEN CREEP

Strategy Number 1: WAIT

If you are going to buy candy, wait until the day before or the day of to buy it. Not having it in the house will eliminate the temptation. Did you know that it can take over ten repetitions of saying no to a food over and over before a new impulse is created? So you would have to walk by the candy over 10 times and DENY yourself. Best to keep it out of the house.

Strategy Number 2:  BE A SUGAR DETECTIVE!

Most of the sugars in our typical American diet are from added sugar which can come in more than two dozen forms (see the table below). Added sugar means that additional sugar has been added during the processing or preparation of food and drink. It’s important to point out that natural sugars coming from fruit are also less concerning given their high amounts of disease-fighting compounds and fiber.

While the body metabolizes sugar in the same way, most of the foods high in added sugars have very little nutritional value and will cause the insulin spikes we are trying to drive down, particularly when weight loss is the goal.

Start reading labels! The table below lists the many “ways” manufacturers list sugar in their label.

Anhydrous dextrose Lactose Brown Sugar
Malt Syrup Powdered Sugar Maltose
Corn Syrup Maple Syrup Corn Syrup Solids
Molasses Dextrin Nectars
Fructose Pancake Syrup Sucrose
High Fructose Corn Syrup Raw Sugar Honey
Sugar Cane Juice White Granulated Sugar
Evaporated Cane Sugar Fruit Juice Concentrate Crystal Dextrose
Glucose Liquid Fructose Sugar Cane Juice
Cane Nectar Invert Sugar

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture (2010). 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

As a reminder, try to consume no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar (24 grams) a day for women, 9 teaspoons (36 grams) for men if weight loss is the goal.

Strategy Number 3: CARRY WATER EVERYWHERE

It estimated that as many as 75% of us are chronically dehydrated. This causes huge problems biologically for fat burning. When I talk to clients, I often hear “I know, I know, I need to drink more water”. But I want to make sure that you really understand that this seriously impacts your fat burning ability in the body and it’s an EASY problem to correct.

Being dehydrated not only slows fat burning and removal of toxins from the body, but it can cause food cravings, because your body has a hard time distinguishing between hunger and thirst when you are dehydrated. So if you are dehydrated, it’s likely you will consume additional unneeded calories throughout the day.

Strategy Number 4: HOOP IT UP!

Remember the extra calories most of us are taking in every day leading to weight gain? Hoop it up! Just a half hour session can burn over 200 calories! Check out our 2 in 1 Fitness Hoop DVD Combo to get you going!

About the author:

Leigh Little is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and Fitness Nutrition Specialist.  She regularly contributes for Canyon Hoops and is co-creator of the popular Hoop Fitness DVD.  To reach Leigh you can email her at leighlittle@real-fitness-solutions.com or visit online at www.real-fitness-solutions.com

 

 

 

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