Sugar. For me, at least, it seems to have a significant bearing on my weight.
Early in 2015 I started going to the gym. I went 5 days a week for an hour a day for almost 6 months and lost around 8 lbs. So not only did I not enjoy going to the gym, but I wasn't getting the desired weight loss. My trainer at the gym had suggested that sugar may be a part of the problem, but I didn't give it much thought as I didn't think I was taking in too much sugar. Once my job changed I ended up not having the motivation to keep going to the gym.
The lack of weight loss was puzzling, especially since I was also walking for an hour at lunch and also to and from the bus. I was also using an app to track my calories and making sure that calories in was generally the same or less than calories out on a daily basis.
At the time, I was having 5-6 cups of tea/coffee per day each with 1 teaspoon of sugar plus having ice cream at least once a week, sometimes 2-3 times. I was also eating sugary cereal and various jams and spreads.
Fast forward to July 2016. I decided to try cutting out sugar as much as possible. Lo and behold I lost 5 lbs over the course of a month. Unfortunately I wasn't able to keep this up as there were too many stresses happening all at once (babies, work, family).
After our twins were born, I was working in the garden, digging up turf to make my vegetable garden bigger. About 20 minutes into digging I started sweating profusely, shaking and getting light headed. When this has happened in the past I typically find myself a quick source of sugar like chocolate chips. On this occasion I decided to dig for another 5-10 minutes. After about 5 minutes the light headed feeling had gone, and I had energy again. It was as though my body had started tapping a different energy source.
My theory is that my body was so used to having a glut of easy to use sugar that it preferentially used that fuel source, and would complain when it was running out. This time around, my body didn't get the preferred fuel, so it started getting reserves from other places.
One interesting snippet I found is that if you eat a lot of sugar, then your gut will have a lot of bacteria that thrives on sugar. This in turn leads to more cravings for sugar as that is now easily and quickly processed by the sugar eating bacteria whereas other foods are not so well processed any more since there is less of a bacteria load of the required type in your gut.
Forward to now. I have stopped eating "added" sugar since January 1st. I have lost approximately 12 lbs since then with no other changes. I'm also craving sugary foods less and less and enjoying other parts of my palate more.
My rules for the "no sugar" diet are:
- Don't add sugar to anything
- Don't eat foods that contain added sugar as a primary ingredient. This includes things like cereal, juice, ice cream, cake, cookies etc
- Reduce sweetened goods or goods that have sugar, but have fruit or vegetables as a primary ingredient (think apple pie). This includes things like flavoured yoghurt, fruit leathers and artificially sweetened items.
- Eat fruit instead
- Drink water