Curb Your Sugar Habit
You can’t outrun a sugar addiction. Kick it to the kerb with these tips
Sometimes you don’t even know it’s in your food
SUGAR IS EVERYWHERE. It’s in practically every food we eat and though we know it’s not good for us in excess, it’s also so hard to resist. That’s because eating sugar lights up our brains’ dopamine receptors (the same ones that trigger drug addiction), making us feel fantastic – and eager for another hit. As runners, our sugar problem is even stickier, as we rely on gels and energy drinks (and sometimes just plain sweets) to fuel up for and recover from workouts.
Sadly, running doesn’t make you immune to the detrimental health effects of eating too much refined sugar. The nearly 30kg (66lb) of sugar that each UK adult consumes a year increases our risks of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, depression and sleep disorders. That’s true whether you exercise or not.
Refined sweeteners ‘go right from your lips into your bloodstream’, says Kristen Gradney, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. That forces your body to quickly process huge levels of sugar. ‘We get less efficient at this over time, which is why we become more susceptible to problems such as diabetes as we age,’ says Gradney.
That means even healthy people – such as runners – should trim their daily intake of added sugar to less than 25g per day, as recommended by the World Health Organization. (There’s no need to avoid naturally sweet, whole foods, which have water, fibre and/or protein that slow the sugar’s path into your system.) Runners can quell the sugar flood and help break a not-so-sweet habit with these strategies.
GET THE POINT? It’s all too easy to get a lot of sugar into your system