That’s the question I asked myself in December, as I realized that every effort I made to lose weight or become fitter failed miserably before it even got off the ground.
I came to the realization that to succeed for the long term, I would need to face my biggest dietary demon–processed sugar.
As if by magic, things began presenting themselves to me to help me on my quest:
- I found a NY Times article from last April simply titled “Is Sugar Toxic?” It was itself a good read, but also pointed me to the next resource.
- I watched a lecture by Robert Lustig called Sugar: The Bitter Truth. Though scientific in nature at parts, it opened my eyes to what actually happens to a molecule of sugar in our bodies. Fat does not make fat, sugar does.
- I watched a live presentation within my local professional education group about the effects of sugar on the body and had my eyes opened to the amount of sugar in foods that are not necessarily sweet, like many cereals.
- Finally, I stumbled on Mark’s Daily Apple and his book, the Primal Blueprint, in which he advocates living more like our ancestors, who didn’t have access to processed sugar or many of the grains we enjoy today.
Changes to My Eating Habits – Cutting Back on Sugar and White Flour
In an effort to become healthier and stronger, I’m working out on a daily basis since December. More importantly for my weight, however, is what I’ve done on the diet front in the last 3 weeks:
- I cut out 98% of all processed sugar.
- I also cut about 85% of all white flour products and many grains.
My eliminated sugars include:
- White sugar, brown sugar, and anything that contains these sugars. Examples include almost anything liquid but water and tea, all candy, chocolates, cakes, etc. and most processed foods like cereals, breads, anything in a box–you get the idea.
- High fructose corn syrups and other corn syrups, which are in almost everything that sugar is not.
- Cane juices, cane sugars, etc.
Basically, the only sugars I get are naturally occurring in fruits, and I eat them in moderation and almost always during the first half of the day.
White flour and grain products I cut include:
- The majority of bread–I eat the equivalent of maybe 1-2 slices of bread per week now.
- Pasta, which I will also eat a small serving of once a week at the most.
- Anything processed that includes wheat, flour, or its variants (which also usually includes sugar–see above), as well as most bakery items.
- White rice, though I still eat small amounts here and there, and I also like to eat brown rice when possible.
I’m less strict with my restriction on flour-based foods and carbs in general than I am with sugar, but the cuts I’ve made are drastic nevertheless.
Three weeks have passed since I made these changes to my diet. Surprisingly, I don’t crave sugar or flour, even when it’s in front of my face. Instead, I crave things like chicken and baby greens, and that is a good problem to have.
Mentally, I feel fantastic. The typical “afternoon slump” is a memory I’ve left behind, and I feel sharp and alert. Physically, I’m losing weight and looking better. The foot pain and swelling which I struggled with for a long time is gone.
Perhaps this chart best tells the story–it’s my weight history since December 9th, when I began my fitness journey. For nearly two months, I worked out with ferocious intensity, but didn’t really pay attention to my diet. Three weeks ago, I made a diet change, and my weight has dropped off a cliff.
That is all the proof I need.
Maybe it’s time to ask yourself–is it really how many calories I eat that affects my body, or is what I eat more important?