It isn’t an Illuminati secret that sugar is pretty terrible for you. Like, yeah, the occasional artisan Fair Trade organic dark chocolate bar or cranberry vodka is one thing. But if you’re filling your body with a lot of sugar between one and 18 times per day, you’re setting yourself up for a lifetime of health problems. Here are some of the sneaky things sugar is doing to your body that are like, less than desirable.
1. It’s Giving You Acne
Yes, it really is. According to Healthline, “sugary foods quickly spike blood sugar and insulin levels, causing increasing androgen secretion, oil production, and inflammation, all of which play a role in acne development.” Cool! Even neater, there were studies done in rural communities that don’t have access to Hershey’s bars and Starbursts and, guess what? The people had, like, NO ACNE in comparison to urban, high-income areas. Hmm. The more you know.
2. It’s Making You Gain Weight
Color me shocked. WebMD (my source of daily anxiety) says that people who drink sugar-sweetened beverages tend to weigh more than those who don’t. WebMD states, “One study even found that people who increased their sugar intake gained about 1.7 pounds in less than two months” which, wtf. I guess I can’t keep rewarding myself for getting through another workout with Thin Mints? Then again, correlation does not imply causation. Thanks, AP Psych, for helping me justify my sh*tty life choices.
3. It’s Making You Eat More
Fun fact: sugar actually leaves you craving more, regardless of how many Skittles you eat. According to an Australian study, refined sugar intake was associated with “an inability to realize you’re full.” I mean, the same thing happens to me after I eat a box of tacos while blackout, but who am I to argue with science? Because you aren’t eating anything your body actually NEEDS when you’re stuffing ice cream or cake into your face, your body wants to keep eating. So, in addition to making you gain weight because, like, it’s sugar, it’s also making you gain weight because you want more food.
4. It’s Giving You Wrinkles
YEP. In addition to f*cking up your skin with zits, sugar is also adding crow’s feet and folds to your face. Thanks to some v fancy reactions between sugar and protein in your body, diets high in sugar can actually cause your skin to age faster. Sugar can produce AGEs: Advanced Glycation End products (what a CONVENIENT ACRONYM). Those can damage collagen and elastin, which are legit the two things you need to keep your skin looking like it did when you were 21. Rather than looking like a slowly deflating beach ball.
5. It’s Making You A Junkie
Sad and true. Although it isn’t exactly heroin, sugar can trigger dopamine in the same way hard drugs can, making it really hard to stop eating AND leading to literal withdrawals. According to Prevention magazine, “In rat studies looking at sugar addiction, when animals binge on the sweet stuff, they experience chattering teeth, tremors, shakes, and anxiety when it’s taken away.” Wow, that’s not at all terrifying.
This is your brain on sugar:
6. It’s Making You Sad
This one is kind of shocking, considering how OUTSTANDING I feel when inhaling a Heath Bar. However, studies have linked high sugar intake to a greater risk of depression. Why? Science nerds that are busy ruining everything delicious have found that blood sugar swings and “neurotransmitter dysregulation” seem to be directly related to depression in both men and women. Guess I can’t actually fix all my probs by re-watching The Notebook four times with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.
7. It’s Making Your Back Hurt
Yah, so like, in addition to aging you prematurely with wrinkles and sadness, sugar is also making your joints hurt. Why? Sugar can cause inflammation in your body, making your elbows and knees ache. Consuming lots of sugar can up your chances of developing arthritis. So if you’re really into bending down, walking, or general movement without pain, sugar is not the answer.
So, all in all, sugar is pretty awful for you when you make it an integral part of your diet. However, a dessert here and there isn’t going to kill you or make your back explode or result in you being covered in acne head to toe. Just remember that sugar in moderation is fine, but don’t be treating yourself to cakes twice a day. K? Kisses.
Images: Unsplash/Noah Buscher; Giphy (8)
At this point in the year (aka February) most of us are either 30 days deep into our “New Year/New Me” diet, or we’re 29 days deep into our “Same Me/Same Shit” cheat spiral. No shade either way. Everyone’s journey is different. This year, for the first time in my entire life (unless you count getting the flu a diet), I actually stuck to the meal plan that I chose on 1/1/18, and I am now here to annoyingly brag tell you all about it. It’s called the Ketogenic diet, or Keto diet, which may ring a bell from Rachel’s season of The Bachelorette when Blake the aspiring drummer wouldn’t STFU about it.
I decided to give this diet a try after getting insanely jealous watching a friend lose 50 pounds on it. He’s a guy, so he’s blessed with the ability to lose weight in his sleep; but I figured if I lost even the smallest portion of that weight, I’d finally be the the gorgeous model version of myself that I always imagine myself to be when zoning out to Ariana Grande and picturing myself as one of her backup dancers—I mean, what?
(Actual footage of me as a backup dancer.)
Wtf Is The Ketogenic Diet?
The Keto diet is a super low carb, low sugar diet. The basic point is for you to eat so few carbs (ideally 20-25gs per day) that your body starts running off ketones, rather than the glucose or insulin your body produces when you’re eating tons of carbs. When glucose is your primary source of energy, your body doesn’t need fat to function and the fat ends up being stored in your body etc…etc… your thighs touch now.
(Note: My thighs touched before the Keto diet. They touched during the Keto diet. And they will touch long after I
give up finish the Keto diet. My thighs will always touch. They are v close friends who like each other a lot, and who am I to pull them apart?)
(Note #2: I know that first paragraph sounded like Cady Heron explaining the science behind Kalteen bars to Regina George, but I promise what I said is backed with actual science.)
Ketones are produced from a breakdown of fats in the liver. Once you’re running off ketones, your body becomes a fat burning machine, which is great, because this diet requires eating a fuckton of fats. Ideally, you’re going to be getting 60-75% of your calories from fat, 15-30% from protein, and 5% from carbs. If you’re going to get into Keto, you’re gonna have to be okay with the fact that you’re now going to be one of those people who talks about their “macros” now. I was about a week into my Keto journey the first time I heard myself say, “Ugh, my macros are all over the place today,” and had to run over to a mirror and make sure I was, in fact, still myself.
So Wtf Can You Eat?
A lot of stuff, actually! For me, I’ve always had a very hard time sticking to diets and meal plans, and an even worse time counting calories. Keto was the easiest plan I’ve ever had to stick to, because once you learn all the different types of foods you can eat, it’s pretty easy to throw some meals together. Just make sure you’re DTC (down to cook) because a lot of the shit you find while eating out is packed with secret carbs that will totally kill your Keto vibe. Here’s a list of foods that will become your life on keto:
MCT Oil: If Coconut oil is Khloé and Olive Oil is Kourtney, MCT Oil is the Kim of the Keto-friendly oil family. MCT oil is a medium chain fatty acid that can have a positive effect on fat burning and weight reduction. It helps curb your appetite, burn fat as fuel, and generally helps you lose weight. MCT oil helps increase ketone production, and you can literally put it in everything.
Avocados: Already obsessed with avocados? Good, because you’re going to eat a whoooole fuckload of them on Keto. Yep, turns out that whole “healthy fats” thing is real, and avocados are totally full of them. So yeah, eat as much guac as you’d like, just ditch the chips. You can literally just eat guac by the spoonful on this diet, not that I have ever done that.
Dry Riced Vegetables: If you’re a carbs addict like I am, the hardest part of keto will be missing your dearly beloved grains. That’s where dry riced vegetables come in. They’re vegetables…turned into rice. Groundbreaking. Keto & Co has great dry cauliflower and broccoli rice for like, eight bucks. One pack makes a whole pound of rice so you can trick your brain into thinking you’re eating carbs. As an added bonus, I read on Twitter once that cauliflower is the new avocados, which were the new kale, so this rice is also v trendy.
Burrito Bowls: Guess what—Chipotle can still be a thing in your life on Keto. Astounding, I know. Anytime I need to eat out, I just hop over to my local burrito purveyor and get a burrito bowl with no beans or rice. Then I get mixed greens, fajita veggies, whatever meat I’m feeling like that day, salsa, sour cream, and sooooo much guac they’re probably tempted to charge me extra-extra.
Pork Rinds: A lot of Keto for me was tricking my body into thinking I’m eating the foods I used to be obsessed with, like chips. On Keto, you can eat pork rinds, which is just like, pork skin turned into a chip. If you’re not already into them, give yourself 1-2 chipless days and you will be. Trust me.
Shakes: Like in most diets, shakes are your friend. Just throw a bunch of Keto-friendly ingredients in a blender and voilà, you are healthy, and everyone who sees you walking down the street with that green drink concoction knows it. If you’re too lazy to even think of ingredients for a shake (hi) Ketolent also has powdered shakes in chocolate and vanilla that are wayyyy tastier than any fitness-related shake has any business being.
A Fuckton Of Eggs: Yeah I mean, you’re going to be eating a lot of eggs, in all varieties. The limit does not exist on how many eggs you can eat. Go nuts.
Alcohol: Vodka, tequila, rum, gin, whiskey, scotch, brandy, and cognac are all drinkable on Keto. I know, right? And if you’re thinking, “Uh, I can’t just drink liquor all the time I’m already blacking out enough as it is,” don’t worry. You can actually still drink beer and wine on Keto, just be sure to keep an eye on the carbs. The only thing your really have to avoid are fancy, flavored cocktails and sweet wines. Other than that, go nuts.*
*Please drink and Keto responsibly.
Is Butter A Carb?
No, actually. Eat as much butter as your little heart desires. Drown in butter if you want to. On Keto, the world is your buttery, buttery oyster. Congrats.
I honestly do not know how anyone who is vegetarian, vegan, lactose intolerant, or morally opposed to cooking would do this diet. There’s just, like, a lot of meat and cheese going on here, and while I’m sure there are ways to substitute things in and out, that sounds like an enormous pain in the ass. As soon as a diet gets more complicated than following a basic meal plan, it’s a no from me. I also like cooking and meal planning (brag), so I found getting my Keto meals prepped to be very calming. That might not be the case for
sane other people. The biggest issue I ran into is that I just don’t love Stevia, which is the go-to Keto sweetener. I made a bunch of sweet Keto treats that I ended up not eating because Stevia tastes like medicine to me. Eventually, I gave up on trying to make Stevia happen and just switched to coconut sugar, which isn’t ideal for Keto but hey, neither was I at the beginning.
The number one thing you’re going to want to be successful on this diet is either MyFitnessPal or some kind of meal tracker so you can make sure your macros are in order. I also read The Complete Ketogenic Diet for Beginners: Your Essential Guide to Living the Keto Lifestyle, which is all info you can find online (and in this article tbh), but buying a book made it feel more offish. The book also has a lot of really good recipes that don’t take long or require cooking knowledge beyond a few binge-watches of Top Chef.
If the lack of snacks is already scaring you, Keto Delivered is a Keto-friendly snack delivery service that will send you all sorts of shit you never thought you’d have again. Personally, they sent me a Keto cookie mix that made me feel like I was having real cookies again, and some low-carb maple syrup which I used to make Keto pancakes. The boxes also contain fun recipes you never would have thought of (I repeat, Keto pancakes).
But Does It Work Tho?
I am happy to announce that as of this day, I am 5 pounds lighter, which was my goal. I also have genuinely felt a lot more energy, and been fuller for longer since saying goodbye to bread and re-focusing my life around my love of cheese. The fact that you can still drink on Keto made this diet a whole lot easier than the ones I’ve done in the past that limit your drinks to a laughable two per week (Do you even know my life??).
Full disclosure, I was not 100% keto 100% of the time. There were a few ramen trips in there, and my mom sent me a Valentine’s basket with some chocolates in it and it would have been like, rude not to eat them so I did.
On the bright side, a few cheat days did not totally wreck my progress here and I’m still basically 80% Keto over a month in. Considering my previous diets have lasted about three hours, the fact that I made it to February on this one should speak volumes.
Images: Brooke Lark / Unsplash; Giphy (10)