I was shocked to learn just how damaging sugar and high-fructose corn sweetener is on the body. The book Why We Get Fat: And What To Do About It, by Gary Taubes, laid out all the scientific evidence and left a paper (or link) trail that anyone could follow if they want to verify the data for themselves. While the information is still a bit controversial, in spite of the validated research (which is open to individual interpretation), I applied my own critical reasoning and felt I could trust my own judgement. This is partly why I quit eating sugar. Anyone who joins the quitting sugar or low carbohydrate community will become familiar with the health consequences of over-consuming sugar. They also become familiar with the many experts who make certain claims about various foods and why they should be avoided. One such person is Dr. William Davis, author of Wheat Belly, who makes this claim:
“People are usually shocked when I tell them that whole wheat bread increases blood sugar to a higher level than sucrose. Aside from some extra fiber, eating two slices of whole wheat bread is really little different, and often worse, than drinking a can of sugar-sweetened soda or eating a sugary candy bar.”
I’ve come across this claim being referred to on many blogs, podcasts and word-of-mouth. It seems to be widely accepted as true. And [full-disclosure] I like Dr. William Davis and his message, therefore, I accepted his claim when I heard it, even though it seemed a little surprising. Of course, if everybody is saying it, then it must be true, right?
“What if bad fat isn’t so bad?” This is the title of an article I came across recently from MSNBC and the subtitle stated: “No one’s ever proved that saturated fat clogs arteries, causes heart disease“. That sounds like health blasphemy, right? But I am living proof that it’s not. Why? Because I quit eating sugar and greatly increased fat in my diet and the results are completely the opposite of what we’re told will happen if you eat a diet that’s high in fat, including saturated fats. After years of trying to eat a low-fat diet and struggling to lower my cholesterol, the results were that I was always hungry, which caused me to eat more food, my weight steadily climbed higher every year, and my cholesterol continued to rise, regardless of how healthy I tried to eat. The truth is, since adopting a high-fat, moderate-protein, low-carb diet (think Atkins Diet)–which is exactly the opposite of the “low-fat, healthy whole-grains” diet that most doctors, public health officials, and health-regulating government bodies promote–my weight dropped over 20 pounds and I have not struggled to keep it off. Also, I’m not always hungry, as I was on a low-fat diet. My cholesterol levels have improved dramatically. And finally, I feel great.
The Truth About Low-Fat Diets
One good thing about eating a low-fat diet is that you reduce your intake of sugar which helps with weight loss, but otherwise, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. But how did the unhealthy low-fat diet ever get accepted as the healthiest diet on the planet?
There’s just one thought I cannot reconcile after more than 6 months of quitting sugar. Dr. Robert Lustig and so many others are pretty sure that eating ANY sugar at all is deadly and shouldn’t ever happen. Yet, I have more trust in nature than I do Lustig, (who I’m a fan of, however).
So why, then, did we evolve to have sweet receptors (taste buds) on our tongues? Nature doesn’t do anything without a reason. The fact that we evolved to have sweet receptors and can specifically detect sweetness in food is significant, if you ask me, but it’s also confusing when I consider the current science behind the effects of sugar on our bodies. My present line of thinking is that there must be a reason for it. If that’s true, then my next logical conclusion is that eating sugar isn’t all bad. However, eating too much sugar is definitely very bad. And that’s where the problems begin. Because of this, I will be starting some new experiments that will involve eating sugar in various forms and seeing if I can identify a threshold where eating sugar becomes bad, or at least bad for me. How much sugar is okay to eat and how much is too much?
I’d say that eating too much refined sugar and (simple sugars in general) is what causes our health to decline. The best way (that I know of) to determine what any sugar is doing to me is to monitor my blood sugar levels, since many doctors and health scientists have already identified a range that appears to be “safe” and a range where blood sugar levels begin to cause problems. I realize that these ranges are not a hard-and-fast rule, but it’s a good starting point.
Friends, if you’ve been reading here for a while, you might know that my goal is to become super human–or as close to being super human as possible. Therefore, this update is possibly one of the most important I’ve written so far, here on Quitting Sugar. If you want to do some good in life and truly help other people, you’re going to want to shout this out from every rooftop, Twitter, Facebook, and social networking feed that you have. Not only that, but email the heck out of this article to everyone you know. Yeah, it’s THAT BIG!
On February 26th, Jamie Saal VanEaton (who is wickedly funny and has a must-follow healthy food blog!) told me about a book that had the potential to change my life. So before I go any further, I gotta give a shout-out to mah girl, Jamie….Hey, Jamie! Woot!! The book, which has now made history in my life, represents a turning point in my state of health. But before I reveal this book, let me share a snapshot of my results, as if the title of this article doesn’t say enough.
Recently, I posted a quick exercise for developing conviction on the Quitting Sugar Facebook page. I think having conviction is critical for quitting sugar and staying strong enough to resist temptation. In fact, if your conviction is strong enough, temptations and cravings can be greatly reduced or even eliminated altogether.
Yes, I know it seems unlikely that you can eliminate the feeling of temptation, and you’re probably thinking, “Scott just doesn’t understand! I cannot live without [favorite sugary treat]!” Maybe you’re right. But I was in your shoes once. Read my post, “Me: On The Floor In A Blissful Sugary Fog” and see what I mean. I never even entertained the possibility of giving up sugar until fate handed me a powerful wake-up call that changed my life. If I can do this, you can do this too.
Below is a brief exercise that will only take a few minutes. You may want to record yourself reading the steps and play them back or find a partner and take turns reading it to each other so you can focus completely on getting into the right state of mind.
Since quitting sugar on October 24th, 2011, I’ve adopted a low carbohydrate, moderate protein, and high fat diet. Basically, the Atkins diet. That’s been going really well.
Though I’ve lost a lot of weight, it was never my primary focus. Sure, I’m stoked about being leaner. It feels great to fit into some of my old clothes. Also my abs are beginning to resurface, which totally rocks. And one of the benefits of the Atkins diet (if you do it right), is that you never…and let me emphasize this point…NEVER(!) have to go hungry. There’s always something you can eat when you’re hungry. In fact, if you’re keeping only fresh and mostly unprocessed foods in your refrigerator and pantry, you can almost eat whatever you want when you’re hungry and not gain any weight.
So when I hear about people following other diets, I almost pity them. I want to pull them aside and explain how awesome the Atkins approach is. I’m pretty much convinced that it’s hands-down, the best diet, period. …or is it?
Alright, I’m rolling up my sleeves now, friends. I recently had some blood work done to track the changes in my blood cholesterol since I quit eating sugar. I’ve been on a strict low-carb diet. And I say with all honesty, that I’ve been firmly sticking to it and have never once eaten sugar except that which occurs naturally such as in some vegetables. I’ve lost 20+ pounds. I feel better and healthier and look much healthier. So when I looked at my recent cholesterol results, I was hoping to see some good news.
On my lab results page that I received from my doctor’s office was a comment that said, “Excellent Chemistry _____” I couldn’t make out the last word. So I was excited to see that, though I didn’t realize that this probably referred to other tests that were done, not to my cholesterol results. Naturally, I assumed my doc was talking about my cholesterol and that the results were excellent. But my cholesterol results weren’t on this specific form. So I arranged to pick up a complete copy of my results from my doctor’s office. When I got home and looked them over, oddly, the cholesterol results weren’t included. But that was probably because the lab that checks LDL particle size also had the overall cholesterol results as well. So I logged into my online account to see if the updated lab results were available. They were. When I looked at them, I suddenly felt a sinking feeling. The results I got were disappointing. They weren’t all bad, but still, while some markers got better, some got worse and it left me wondering what went wrong.
It’s been 3 months since I quit eating sugar. In this video, I talk about getting my blood work done again. I’ll tell you about how I almost ate sugar. And I give an update on my search for low-carb bread recipes. And last, but not least, I talk about trying Quest Bars. If you prefer to read the text, keep reading for a summary.