Sunday, July 31, 2016

August Sugar Challenge

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There's already plenty (too much) information on the internet about nutrition. The best I can say is to follow the advice of two of my favorite authors:

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”
Michael Pollan, " In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto"

"Balance your energy sources... if it ain't broke, don't fix it."
Matt Fitzgerald, Runner's World Performance Nutrition for Runners

I'll write more about this later in the post, but first I want to post a challenge: cut down on sugar intake. How and how much is up to you, but here are my suggestions, using an Olympic theme in honor of the upcoming games:

  • Pick one sugary food or drink to eliminate from your diet for the month of August. 
If you drink sugared soda iced coffee, or even a sugary sports drink, I'd go for that. Sure, the sugar will give you some energy, but why waste precious sugar calories on a drink? I'd prefer some sort of a dessert to a soda, but to each their own.

  • Limit yourself to one sweet a day, week, every other day, or whatever. 
I've done this a number of times, and it works pretty well. When there are sweets in the staff room at work, I usually grab one. If I'm limiting my sweets, I have to ask myself, "do I really want to use my one sweet today (or this week, or whatever) on cupcakes from Target?"

  • "Eliminate" processed sugar from your diet.

This one's tricky, as everything from ketchup to whole grain cereal has processed sugar. You can decide to go all out and eat only whole foods and/or cereals and processed foods with no added sugar, but that's a tall order.

What I'd recommend it set a limit on how much sugar can be in something for you to be "allowed" to eat it. Kashi Dark Cocoa Karma Wheat Biscuit Cereal has 9g of added sugar--I'd say that's a decent baseline.

You can set whatever limit you want and then be reasonable about your food choices. Make sure to check serving sizes, but don't go nuts--it's not worth driving yourself crazy. Does one piece of dark chocolate count as a sweet? It's up to you.

"Cheating" or, "Succumbing to temptation"

Don't beat yourself up--it happens. If you want to try the August Sugar Challenge but are worried you can't do it, try it anyway. And if you "cheat," keep going. Olympic athletes compete for the gold medal, but even when they know it's out of reach, they usually finish anyway. Watch any Olympic event, especially the marathon, for confirmation of this fact.

If you'd like to try this challenge, I'd love to hear from you. Comment on Facebook, Twitter, or on this post and let us know you're trying the challenge. 

I'm going to start my August sugar challenge by going for gold. I'm setting my sugar limit to 9g so I can finish my box of Kashi Dark Cocoa Karma Wheat Biscuit Cereal (which is awesome).

I could expound on nutrition for runners, but this post is meant to be all-inclusive. There are countless iterations of diets out there from paleo to vegan, but the most sage advice involves a balanced diet of mostly plants (vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and grains), and mostly whole foods. 

Balancing your energy sources means getting enough calories through carbohydrates, fat, and protein. It doesn't mean eliminating entire food groups--don't do that. But eliminating processed sugar? I don't see a problem with that.  

Run well, and leave me a comment on Facebook, Twitter, or below the post!

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