If being cooped up in the house watching Everybody Loves Raymond re-runs and eating chocolate chip cookies all winter long hasn’t done your body good, you will want to read this article. Most of us have managed to pack on a few pounds during the longest, snowiest winter on record, and now bathing suit season is creeping up on us. I’d like to share with you some very healthy and nutritious (not to mention delicious) slim-down secrets to help you get swimsuit ready for summer 2014.The most important thing to remember: lose the carbs, lose the weight. Carbohydrates and sugary foods (not fat) are what pack on the pounds.
What happens in the body when we eat carbs? All forms of carbohydrates are broken down into smaller units called glucose, which are used by the body’s cells and by the brain to perform necessary functions for survival. When we eat whole grains, which are complex carbs, the body breaks these down into smaller parts (glucose), which can then be used as energy. Complex carbohydrates, in the end, are simply longer chains of sugar which must be broken down into their usable form. When we eat simple carbs, such as candy or soda, insulin is released immediately to control blood glucose levels, and the cells take up the glucose and use it as energy. Our cells absolutely need glucose to survive.
But what happens when we eat too much sugar and carbs too often? Every time we eat sugar, our pancreas secretes insulin to maintain homeostasis and feed our cells with energy. When insulin is constantly released and overproduced, our cells can become resistant. This is called insulin resistance. Insulin resistance and constant surges of insulin are directly linked to fat deposition, obesity, and diabetes. So, the more sugar we consume, the more insulin is released, and thus the more fat is deposited, particularly in the midsection. In addition, when we eat sugary foods we
begin an endless cycle: the more sugar we eat, the more sugar the body craves. Let’s say you are hungry for a snack, and you choose to eat a candy bar. Because this candy bar is made of sugars, your pancreas immediately secretes insulin, your cells take in the glucose and use it for energy, and in about two hours you are in need of more sugar because your cells used it all up from the candy bar you ate two hours before. This is the cycle of the sugar high, and then the inevitable afternoon “crash”. Sugar and sugary foods are not sustainable forms of energy. Sugar, upon consumption, is used immediately by our cells. The more we eat, the more we want, and the cycle continues.
What are some healthier choices for sustaining energy as well as shedding those winter pounds? It is important to include a variety of foods in the diet so that our bodies receive all the vitamins and nutrients we need to live a healthy and vibrant life. Instead of sweets like candy bars, sodas, ice cream, and cookies, I recommend fresh fruit. Tons of vegetables are necessary as well. Healthy forms of fat such as coconut, avocado, olive oil, and nuts and seeds are also important. And let’s not forget about proteins, as these are the building blocks of life! Lean meats such as wild caught fish and pastured chicken and turkey are good choices. Eggs from pastured chickens are packed with nutrition as well. The freshest foods are always the best foods for providing our cells with the nourishment we need to sustain life.
What are some tasty recipes for sugar lovers? Whether you enjoy sweet or savory, let’s face it, we all like a sweet treat every now and then. I would like to share with you some of my favorite recipes which are tasty, satisfying, and have a low glycemic index. I hope you enjoy.
PALEO BREAKFAST SMOOTHIE
8 oz unsweetened almond or coconut milk
½ slightly green organic banana (slightly green means less sugar)
4 large organic strawberries (or handful of berries of your choice)
handful of organic spinach or kale
1 tbsp organic raw cacao powder
1 tbsp unsweetened almond butter (or any nut butter—unsweetened)
1-2 tbsp organic raw shredded coconut flakes
1 tbsp chia or flax seeds
pinch of ginger or cayenne pepper
4 or 5 ice cubes
Blend and enjoy!
Cook up some organic quinoa and top with organic spinach leaves or mixed greens. Add chopped green onions, carrots, chopped pecans, and sliced strawberries or oranges. Add any unsweetened oil and vinegar dressing of your choice, or use my recipe: 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, ½ tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar, juice of ¼ lemon, salt, pepper, pinch of pure organic stevia.
16 oz club soda
juice of ½ lemon or lime
pinch or two of pure organic stevia to taste
shot (or two) of plain vodka
Blend up your favorite fruit smoothie (no sugar added) and add a shot or two of plain vodka
Contributor: Andrea MacLaughlin
One Salon Hair Designer / Health Advocate