Sports Nutrition Tip of the Month: Giving Sugar the Boot
Sorry, sugar! We’re breaking up! The average American eats too much added sugar. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) per day for women and no more than 9 teaspoons (38 grams) per day for men. The average American eats about 71 grams of added sugar per day. All this extra sugar has taken a toll on our waist lines and perhaps contributing to one in three Americans being overweight.
Natural sugars (typically found in fruit, vegetables, and grains) are not the main culprits in this discussion. The issue is with added sugar. Sugar is the number one added ingredient to the food supply and comes in many different names and forms (e.g., high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, dextrose, maltose etc). Most added sugars are found in packaged and prepared foods. Bear in mind that sugar is relatively easy digested fuel source (this is good for athletes especially during a workout), but the problem arises when the amount of sugar ingested is not burned; when it is not burned, it is eventually stored as fat. Skip the artificial sweeteners altogether as research has failed to provide any health benefit from using this as a substitute. Instead there is evidence which points to an increased glucose intolerance, weight gain, and belly fat. The jury is still out on Stevia. Bottom line: keep the beets and skip the soda. Eat whole foods in their natural form and read food labels. Expect to see high amounts of sugar in during-workout nutrition bars and gels. This is necessary since proteins and fats are too difficult to digest during a workout that has blood pulled to your arms and legs. Opt for additional protein and some healthy fats in your post-workout meal.
Add Plant-Based Foods to Naturally Lower Cholesterol
Cholesterol is a fatty, waxy substance that is found in the body’s cells. The liver naturally makes cholesterol. In our diets, cholesterol is primarily found in animal and dairy products. The body needs some cholesterol to function, but getting more than you need can cause plague to form in the arteries would could eventually lead to build-up and blood flow blockages. High cholesterol is a risk factor for heart disease.
If your cholesterol numbers are high, talk with your doctor first and consider a change in diet and exercise. Cut back on high cholesterol foods – such as anything fried, fatty meats, and sugary desserts – and add in more plant-based foods. In combination, these lifestyle changes can be a good step towards reducing cholesterol.
Here are some plant-based foods that may lower your cholesterol naturally:
- Oats – in any form or go for whole grain anything
- Nuts – especially tree nuts, such as walnuts, almonds, and pistachios; swap out for croutons on a salad
- Green tea – drink hot or iced tea all year long; add a squirt of lemon for a burst of freshness
- Beans and legumes – add beans to tacos, salads, soups, and eggs; hummus is another option
- Dark chocolate – eat chocolate that is 70% cocoa or higher; eat organic when possible
- Safflower oil – its mild flavor makes it ideal to drizzle over veggies before or after roasting
- Kale – lightly cook greens for the biggest benefit
- Avocado – swap in avocados for mayo on a sandwich, eat on tacos, throw on top of a salad, or blend into a smoothie
- Apples – any kind will provide benefit; eat organic when possible; maybe an apple really does will keep the doctor away!
Recipe: One-Pot Spaghetti with Kale and Cherry Tomatoes
Source: The Iron You
- 1 pound of your favorite spaghetti (regular or GF)
- 1 pound of cherry tomatoes (halved)
- 1 bunch of kale (destemmed and chopped) ** Katina’s pick: Lacinato (or Tuscan) kale
- Zest of 2 lemons
- 4 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tsp fine grain salt
- Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Grated Parmesan for serving
- Place spaghetti, cherry tomatoes, kale, lemon zest, olive oil, and salt in a large, shallow pan (the pan should be large enough that the dry spaghetti can almost lie flat).
- Add 4 cups of water and bring to a boil.
- Boil mixture, stirring and turning pasta frequently with tongs, until pasta is al dente and water has nearly evaporated, about 9 to 10 minutes.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper, top with Parmesan cheese and serve!
- Throw in a combination of your favorite chopped herbs
- Sub out Parmesan for nutritional yeast for a Vegan option
- Sub out Parmesan for feta cheese for a Greek option
- Sub out Parmesan for fresh ricotta for an Italian option
- Add cooked shrimp, scallops, or chicken for extra protein
Katina Sayers is the owner/operator of Katina’s Nutritional Coaching Corner. She has an extensive background in health and education that began with degrees in exercise physiology, health and physical education, community health, and culminating with a doctoral degree in curriculum and instruction. She completed an advanced certificate of study in Integrative Nutrition and Health Coaching from the renowned Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) in New York City. For the last four years, she has worked one-on-one with clients, presented a multitude of nutrition topics for large and small audiences, contracted with businesses to implement worksite wellness initiatives, and currently manages day-to-day food service operations at a local non-profit agency, as well as directs activities related to nutrition and health. Katina can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.