NAS Challenge Day 4- Damnable Dextrose!!


Those stupid crisps again, betrayer of my best intentions!!!

I started out today out cranky and hungry. It’s 9ish now and I can’t seem to wake up. I have half a mind that I’m getting a cold or something but I thought the same when I went vegan for an experiment a couple of years ago and it went away after a few days of adjusted eating. That was a much more extreme change than this and if anything my sugar consumption went up then so maybe related, maybe not.


If you think I was cranky before, imagine now as I pick up a pack of those lovely Ten Acre crisps I was going on about yesterday only to realise that they are vegan friendly. That’s weird, as most vegan friendly crisps and wotnot have some sugar in there to make up for lack of protein or dairy. Oh no. Oh yes, right at the end of the seasoning ingredients there is a massive clanger to my challenge. Dextrose. A corn derived simple sugar, chemically indistinguishable to glucose. Shit. They even put it in crisps. I am utterly pissed off with myself and Ten Acres. I have no idea how I missed that yesterday and have had a serious word with myself. I will carry on though.

As lunchtime comes up I find myself uninspired and craving both sandwiches and the stash of contraband cup a soups in my desk drawer. Blame the cold, wet weather.  If I wasn’t doing this challenge, I wouldn’t think twice about bulking up my lunch with something a little more comforting and without my desk snack drawer full of high fibre substitutions for kitkats and McCoys it would be a difficult day. This confirms again one of the oldest diet tips out there- be prepared and plan your eating. Yes, yes and read the labels too!


It is 2 o clock and I am pretty hungry and I hate the world because I have nothing to eat. OK I have some apples but I don’t want them because, irony of the day, I am sick of sweet stuff! I had a banana a while ago but it’s just made me hungrier and I am seriously considering the Ten Acre fall down. I’m working a late tonight, I don’t think I’m going to make it. So can I learn? What can I do differently tomorrow? Carry an extra salad? Keep a handy packet of butter in my drawer to nibble on? One should bat for the protein option but fridge space is not high here. Nuts then. Plain old nuts. Nuts which will defeat the theory of No Added Sugar leading to lower calorie options. Meh.


It is half past two and I totally ate the Ten Acre Crisps. Dextrose and all. I regret nothing.


I kind of regret everything. Home now, and home made vegetable chilli and jacket potato on the menu for dinner. I want hot sauce.

I have come in around me weight loss calorie goal of 1600 but quite over on carbs and sugar for the day- a whole 21g over the 45g target that I am going to throw away as bullshit in a later installment. Fat intake was ok but protein low. Maybe I do need to start carrying an emergency chicken breast around with me.


NAS Challenge Day 3

sad editors note- due to my lack of attention skills the crisps I raved about in this post turned out to be stealth sugar holders. See later updates on that 😦


Lovely Ten Acre crisps, saviour to my office bound mind afternoon munchies.

Urgh. Today. It was all going too easily!

The pain of today is lunch out with Bestie, which obviously isn’t a pain in itself but is becoming a bit of a drag in terms of what I’m going to be able to order with a clear conscience. Go to lunch here for me at this venue is a fishfinger sandwich. No way I can rely on industrial breadcrumbs and tartare sauce to be of the no added sugar variety. Ok so they make great chilli…….which will have tinned tomatoes in it…………….as I discovered last night tinned tomatoes are generally a no go……..nuts.  I thought I had it nailed by planning on an omelette and chips, hold the salad dressing and no ketchup. Fine. Only I just ate 2 eggs for my morning snack and another 3 for lunch is over doing the ovulations I think so that’s no good. On another day I would have ditched the eggs from my snacks and had a yoghurt break bar thing but obviously that’s out. Humph. Unless the menu has changed dramatically I’m thinking I will be limited to a baked potato with cheese (meh, no good without coleslaw which can’t be trusted on the dressing front) or a bacon sandwich as a reasonably safe bet but kind of boring. I don’t get the bacon joy of current food fads at all. Ok maybe their chicken salad, with no dressing or crutons. Is their chicken fresh or reconstituted? Don’t they use sugar to do that? A cheese panini, without the onion chutney. Do they put sugar in panini rolls? They shouldn’t but many do, that’s why I stick to M&S bread most of the time as they only use flour, salt and yeast and I’m happy with that but mass catering paninis? What’s in those? AAAAAAARGH. And what am I going to drink? I’m dosed for caffeine today and have ruled out diet drinks as against the rules. Usual lemonade is off. Ok fine lime and soda no wait, lime cordial is basically made of sugar. I’m going to be that bore in the pub having tap water? I may have to chuck back a couple of vodkas just to keep things festive.

I’m off to google the ingredients in a panini roll.


Cut to the early evening and the summary report.

Morning- usual shake but with skimmed milk, boiled eggs and celery sticks as a morning snack.

Lunch- chorizo and mozzarella panini (I think these are safe) with salad and chips and vinegar and no saucey condiments of any kind. I miss sauce. No vodka either so my esteemed colleagues were treated to my fizzy water burps for the remains of the day.

PM-Really hungry for much of the afternoon, took a vending machine gamble on a pack of ten acre crisps after an apple didn’t fill the hole and thankfully they were compliant but arguably not so diet friendly. But could have been much worse.

6pmish now and again I have the tiredness and squeezing headache and nausea as experienced last night. Currently inhaling some carrot sticks and waitrose hummus while Mr gets the dinner on. Said dinner will be chicken legs with Berebere seasoning and vegetables of some kind. I didn’t count today on my macros etc as eating out makes this too hard to guesstimate.

I feel like utter rot and don’t want to talk about it any more.

Are You Going To Eat…..Clean?


stock images, getty images.

One thing I have learned from joining various diet forums and net based support groups is that people behind a keyboard become great, brave, judgey bullies about diet and weightloss theory when they get to comment from a safe and virtual place. Log on to any diet app with a chat function and you will find the boiling war that is Clean Eating vs IIFYM. Just the term ‘clean eating’ causes tidal waves of derision from the If It Fits Your Macros crowd with such mockeries as ‘if I wash this bagel under the tap I can eat it’ and ‘I like my french fries dirty’ and the like. This mockery is based in the defence of eating whatever the hell these people choose as long as it doesn’t take them over their daily calorie expenditure and fits in with a rough guidance of how many carbs, fats and protein make up those calories. This is 100% OK and a process which gets many people through their desired weightloss journey and subsequent maintenance time. Get down with your bad selves, macros counters. However, clean eating continues to grow as a craze/fad diet/lifestyle choice and instgrammers everywhere want to show you how sharp it has made their abs and how trouty their pout is now, so what the hell are they actually talking about?

Well I’ll tell you. The term ‘clean’ is a rather preachy way of defining an eating plan based on natural, unprocessed foods.  Basically you can eat plants or stuff with a face. Potatoes? Fine, they are plants. A 200g bag of kettle chips did not grow out of the ground, so they’re no good. A rump steak has been cut off a cow, which has a face, so that’s ok. A Cumberland sausage is packed with cereals and may well have once had several faces so not allowed. Apart from having a highly sanctimonious general outlook on how you eat, going clean is actually quite restrictive as it takes out pretty much anything but pure meat and fish, vegetables, nuts, whole fruit, eggs and milk plus some oils like olive oil. Although some clean freaks seem to ignore the fact that yoghurt is a processed form of milk and sneak that in too. Sound fine to you? Yeah, it’s ok if you have a constant supply of fresh and high quality seasonal produce, plus time to prep and home cook all your meals.It is surprising how often people confuse going clean with ruling out carbs though, an easy enough mistake when considering that a truly clean plan will cut out bread, pasta, white rice, couscous, sugar, syrups and sweets. In truth you get plenty of sugar going clean from fruits and vegetables which are all allowed in any quantity as is honey or agave syrup on most plans.

So how does clean food equate to better health and weight loss? In the most part, by restricting high calorie foods which you then have to substitute with more filling, lower calorie bulk in order to feel satisfied.

A good example is the ‘Paleo’ method- which works on the concept of going back to a Paleolithic era diet when humans may or may not have been healthier (depending who you talk to, the medical records from those days are somewhat sketchy). The basics are that if you can’t hunt or gather it, you don’t eat it, and in some ways this is ultra clean as it takes the ‘processed’ defintion back as far as to things that need excessive cooking or farming methods that were just not around in those days. This rules out beans, grain products like barley, processed meats and dairy- leaving your carb intake to come solely from fruit and veg with a lot of hunger balancing protein. Most paleo plans aren’t big on white potatoes or corn either leaving you to lower calorie yams or sweet potatoes. How does this magic formula work for your waistline? It is not rocket science. It is not really even chemistry. Once again, it is maths. Paleo, like basic clean eating, immediately bans a lot of high calorie foods such as  bread, cereal, rice, cheese, butter, bacon, pate, beans and vegetable oils. You can still have a baked sweet potato with your dinner, but no butter on it. You just saved around 90 calories. You can have that veggie soup for lunch but lose the roll and butter, maybe 200 calories there. Swap the bread for a load of carrot sticks and you are still saving. Weekend fry up for breakfast? Switch to eggs and avocado and a grilled tomato save yourself maybe 400 calories vs a traditional full english with bacon, toast, sausage and baked beans. Yes, you are cutting out processed foods. Yes, you are really cutting out calories too.

I once read an amusing forum post on how eating clean lets you eat as many calories as you want and still lose weight. Oy, but that was a bloody take down. As we all know, calories are calories and too many of them will stop you from losing weight. What this ill informed and virtually flagellated poster meant was that if you stay totally clean, it’s hard to eat in a huge excess. Even if you eat an entire lettuce, a whole cucumber, a couple of tomatoes and a tin of tuna for your lunch salad, you aren’t going over maybe 400 calories. Add in 2 boiled eggs, still under 600. A tablespoon of olive oil to dress it and 650 but seriously can you eat all of that before you feel full? As an average middle aged male existing on about 2000 calories a day dinner should clock in at about 7-800 calories. Turn that into chicken and broccoli and that sheer physical amount of food will make most people be full before they are finished. Of course, you do have to stop eating once you are full. So if you go clean you don’t necessarily have to count your calories as tightly as someone who incorporates all the filthy evil into their tummies but the principle is the same- if you lose weight it is because you are eating less than you burn off, not because unprocessed food is magical.

Another, lesser proven, angle to the clean diet is that you are avoiding many additives, preservatives and not entirely tested chemical wonders that come into the process of, er, processing food. Who cares, right? Well this is all about GI levels and how some food can make you hungry which we can look at another time. In short, the more you strip something down (particularly carbohydrates) the more they mess with your hunger levels. The easier something is to digest, the less filling it is. Think about it, what’s easier to eat all night: lumps of baked potato or that bag of kettle chips we were talking about earlier? Not only is the food essentially already a bit digested for you, it has all manner of other wonderful things added for flavour, colour, longevity and texture. Some stuff we know of, like salt or vinegar, water or potato starch. That’s ok, right? Also stuff like high fructose corn syrup, soy lethicin, maltose, dextrose, aspartame and monosodium glutamate. Those are ok, are they? Anyone without an advanced organic chemistry degree know how these things work in your body or affect your health? In fairness we don’t know for a fact yet that these things are harmful but there is growing evidence that consumption of many food additives and process ingredients can monkey with your hormones and affect both hunger and fat storage triggers if you eat them in volume and often. Again, if you want to learn more about this I point you towards Master Your Metabolism by Jillian Michaels.

So we ask, are processed foods making me fat? Well, yeah maybe they are and in more ways than one. Will giving up everything in a packet make you skinny? Not if you drink a litre of olive oil a day instead. If I try to cut out processed food will I find it easier to lose weight? Maybe so. I know for a fact that I feel better, sleep better and bloat less if I stay off the cereal bars, crisps and package dinners regardless of if I am losing weight or not. But I’m someone that can happily eat half a roast chicken for tea which is a calorie breakdown regardless of how organic and un processed it is, so I still count when I can.

Going clean tends to be higher fibre and protein rich, which is great. But it can also be expensive, high fat and frankly bloody impossible if you are caught on the hop without a packed lunch or eating at the home of someone who you don’t want to offend. I know it is boring but again we circle back to balance and moderation and maybe if you make every effort to chow down on whole veg and lean meat and fish most of the time then a beer and pizza blow out with the girls on a Thursday after yoga isn’t going to make you blow up and put weight on. I for one will always chose to forgo daily cornflakes, crisps and icecream if it means I can get in a couple of pints and a large Hawaiian at the weekend without losing sleep over it.


NAS Challenge- Day 2

Once again I am going to ask if you are reading this and you are diabetic that you please ignore anything I say and speak to your doctor about your sugar intake and no one else. No one!


The results are in! Perfect carb score today, this never happens.

Ah, the sugar. Yesterday I noted a 45g allowance of sugar on the macros calculator I use to track what I eat, and I could find no formula or reason for it so today I’ve tried to look more at this number and who says what and why. Most people say something different with no apparent reasoning.

The NHS recommends no more than 30g of added sugars in the diet and offers no limit on naturally occurring ones.

American Heart Association advise that you should aim for below 25-30g (gender dependent) of added sugars but do not offer a cut off for naturally occurring sugars.

Jamie Oliver- everyone’s favourite petition waving celebrity chef- says 90g a day total sugars based on all the hoomphy research he has done for his latest crusade against obesity/campaign for sugar tax in the UK.

Livestrong also goes with the 30g/5% of daily calories or less from added sugar then advises on lower sugar wholefoods without putting a limit on them.

This information isn’t really helping and is leading me back to a favourite conclusion of my late grandfather’s- which is that they don’t bloody know, do they? All this kerfuffle and sugar scaring about getting fat and getting diabetes and all dying early doesn’t seem to have the back up of an actual number. After all if we limit free sugar shouldn’t we also limit sugar that’s locked up in other stuff too? It is still sugar.  I much prefer to deal in absolutes when it comes to these things, especially if the advice comes in hand with someone trying to sell me a diet book or workout or whatever. Are we fat because we eat sugar? No. Are we fat because we eat too many calories? Yes. Do people eating too many calories eat a lot of sugar or does eating sugar make you eat more calories? This is the question. Does sugar count or is it a convenient calorie scapegoat? What I mostly mean is can’t I swap this banana for a kitkat? Pleeeeeease?????

I went to the forums to ask the opinons of my peers on the subject and to see if any other My Fitness Pal users knew what the sugar tracker value was based on. Where does this 45g come from? For reasons unknown, a moderator deleted the entire thread so I am still none the wiser. Nice. That made me cranky so I ate a banana.

 The Day In summary:

The morning- usual breakfast shake plus a couple of black coffees and mid morning snack of boiled eggs and carrot sticks.

 Lunch- green salad with home-made dressing, tomatoes, linseeds, the smallest avodaco in the world and a slice of sourdough bread.

Through the afternoon- a large banana and a small apple, then a chunk of cucumber and some  100% peanut butter as a pre work out filler as I was feeling slightly hungry. Weird point of the day occued when a 30 minute highish intensity yoga stream was exhausting to the point of my feeling shaky and pukey and needing a long sit down afterwards. Not a million miles away from when I over did some cycling training without enough breakfast a couple of years ago. A half hour exercise blast on getting home from work is standard issue for me, so shouldn’t have been a problem. Let’s see what tomorrow brings on this front.

Dinner- baked sweet potato, corn on the cob and pork fillet stirfried with onions and a red pepper. I missed being able to chuck in some hot sauce or soy or even just a tin of chopped tomatoes to this, for a dinner without sauce is a sad dinner indeed. I did however discover too late that morrisons savers passata is a no added sugar item, so that will be in the mix later in the week.

Once again I avoided the stealth sugars, I came in under my 1600 calorie goal and went over the 45g sugar goal but by less than yesterday. Macros were spot on 40% for carbs and slightly over with fat at 34% and protein just under at 26%. I would say I’ve not been too hungry but following hitting the yoga wall and putting away the plain pork I am now hankering for the generic supermarket brand fake magnums I know are in the freezer.

Stupid freezer.

NAS Challenge- Day 1


Beany no added sugar stirfry dinner thing. It could easily have been worse.

OK here we are at the end of the first day of my no added sugar challenge and I have to say it wasn’t that challenging in the grand scheme of things. Yeah, I know I go on about cakes and sauces and chocolate and chicken wings all the time but Monday to Friday I tend to eat quite healthily. Or at least I do on the surface of things.

For context- I aim to eat under 2000 calories a day, with a more specific goal of about 1600 on a good day in order to drop some weight. I do count macros and very roughly aim to split my calories by about 40% carbs, 30% protein and 30% fat. On a day where I hit goal this shuts off the carbs at about 160g- this however is not 160g of spuds or bread or brown rice as these also include water fibre, proteins etc. That is 160g of dietary carbs which I count on My Fitness Pal to calculate for me as I can’t extract and weigh them at home. Believe me this is all rough workings and I know it- calorie counting and allocation is not an exact science. The only way to truly know the energetic value of a piece of food is to combust it under tight laboratory conditions and then, well, you can’t eat it can you! So yes, we work on averages and we try to keep under 1600 calories and 40% carbs. And we generally work on Monday to Friday as it all tends to go to hell in a well oiled skillet on the weekends.

An additional magic calculator that I have no idea on the mechanics of tells me that I should remain under 45g of sugar a day. I’m not sure where this comes from, though the NHS recommends no more than 30g of sugars a day for an adult but does not include natural sugars in fruit or veg in this amount. Back into the grey areas already. Onward.

My edible day looked like this:

0630 standard issue breakfast shake consisting of whole milk, espresso, unflavoured whey protein and ice. No change here from a normal week day and this bagged about 11g of carbs all from milk and all sugar. Further black coffee injections at 0800 and 1000.

0945 two hard boiled eggs and some carrot sticks, again standard school day snack for me. Another 7g of carbs, probably about 4 of which are sugar.

1200 tuna salad with lots of veg and a few olives. I make my own salad dressing at home with oil, vinegar, mustard and lemon juice which are all compliant in the added sugar department. Buying readymade salad dressings can really push up your sugars and calories in general as all kinds of things can go in there so as always if you are trying to lose weight, make your own so you know exactly what you are eating.
18g in total carbs and most of those are sugar from tomatoes and olives. I dropped the tomato or chicken cup a soup that I usually have at lunch. I would also like to take a moment here to thank whatever reprobate on my floor in the office is eating some kind of sickly stinking fake cakey sweet thing that is making everything smell like cheap vanilla candles. My appetite is curbed.

1400 a pack of beetroot vinaigrette crisps from marks & spencer- no sugar in the ingredients here but a surprising 15g of carbs in this tiny little packet, but also 4g of protein and no fat. They also sounds like a million shards of broken glass in the packet, not a selling point.

1500 Got activated from those crisps and felt very hungry again so an extra bottle of water and a banana. The 45g sugar target is now trashed but I’m only just over halfway through the carbs for the day.

1545 and a small apple. I’m mostly bored rather than hungry I think.

1900 after a more energetic yoga session than I’m used to dinner was steamed broccoli with a concotion of onions, peppers, chickpeas and butter beans with lots of cumin and chilli. I would have probably chucked in a corn on the cob too but that 45g sugar limit is nagging in the back of my brain so I left it in the fridge. No holyfuck sauce to jazz up this standard week-before-payday dinner tonight due to having a sugar component. Boo. Another 58g of carbs, 13 of these sugar.

I have to say I’m pretty happy to have come in at under 1400 calories and about 155g carbs for the day and not feel hard done by, this would not have been the case if I had sneaked in my usual mid afternoon go ahead bullshit diet ceral bar or biscuit thing or, worse, visited the office vending machine. I came in with a reasonable calorie count for someone trying to lose weight but didn’t quite hit my macros goals being bang on for protein but over on carbs and under on fat proportions. That 45g sugar reccomendation we haven’t quantified was more like 78 and that is my take home point this evening. By avoiding processed foods and going whole and consciously avoiding added sugar I am still looking at about 60% more sugars than the random unquantified calulator reccomends. I think I need to put some more research into this number and how it has come to be.

Tomorrow. I will do that tomorrrow. For now, I’m off to sneak in a Marco Polo while the Mr is out for a walk so I can blog in peace, ahahahahahahaha!

The Skinny Thing: NAS Challenge

Baked beans, off the menu.

So, in brief, I’m going into this week with the challenge ahead to avoid all added sugar in my eatings. 

Why? Well, the summer is dwindling, the salads and ice water appeal is dropping with the temperature and with longer nights and festive parties on the horizon it is the time of year when my waist watching always goes to pot. By cutting out added sugar i pretty much immediately throw out the vending machine snacks that tempt me away from the good and nutritious snack path. A quick, easy diet win. And I need a diet win with bridesmaid fittings and a last minute sunshine blast in Tenerife booked in the not too distant future.

Also, carbs. I love carbs and I tire of their constant demonisation by the dieting community. I’d like to show that if you count your calories and make reasonably clean decisions you can still eat plenty of carbs and be full and happy if you just knock off the excesses, often stealth excesses sneaked into sauces and convenience foods. In related experimentation my weight has not budged for the last month but I have a noticeable increase in spare tyreage which I’m putting down to a lax attitude towards bakery products and crisps where once there were oatcakes and bananas. 

I should say this won’t be a massive challenge for me in planning as I have been on a strict very low sugar diet in the past for medical reasons. I know the theory- drop the jars of sauce and the sweets, don’t get into pre made sandwiches or pastas. Meticulously check ingredients lists on anything that isn’t a plant or a lump of raw meat. The theory is easy. The practice when you are hungry or cranky or just plain sick of carrot sticks is the hard part.

So how have I prepared myself? I just ate a swan song cappchino ice cream bar for a start. I also stocked up on salad items, chickpeas, fresh fruit and veg for the week plus avocados and expensive tea to sub in for the kitkats and sneaky soft mints I will not be treating myself with. I’ve told the Mr and now you that I want to do it, opening up to some accountability and I’ve started my diary. I will still log my daily calories and aim to hit roughly 40% of those calories from carbs, just not sneaky added sugary ones.

For the sake of clarity I am dumping anything that has sugar as an ingredient, rather than a natural component. So nutritional sugar in apples, carrots and sweetcorn is fine. Sugar in a bar of dairy milk, not fine. Sucrose, maltose and HFCS off the menu too. Weird milk related additives based on lactose, gone. I have already lost my usual lunchtime cup a soup and had to rule out the pickle jar. No bloody gherkins as there is sugar in the pickling mix and I am not happy about this one bit. Gah. I will also not be going for faked sugar subs either, so no weird fake chocolate no sugar generic diet brand aspartame breakfast bar thing or diet cokes either. In case it didn’t go without saying I won’t be adding my own sugar to anything and honey and agave and the like are no go items for the week. 

I take my coffee black and have a fresh packet of apples to hand. I can do this.

Why the hell am I doing this? 

Are You Going To Eat…..Carbs?

First off, if you are diabetic or think you are, then please don’t take any of this on board, you don’t do carbs like other people do. See a doctor, don’t listen to me.

Second first off, let’s actually define a ‘Carb’ because the diet and health conscious world we now live in is carbs this and carbs that and cut carbs and rule out carbs and oh pssssssht carbs are fine as long as you watch your macros.


your chemical carb building block- glucose. Image courtesy of

Carbohydrate- a molecule containing carbon, hydrogen and oxygen atoms, usually with a hydrogen–oxygen atom ratio of 2:1.
There are big ones and little ones, long chains and short chains. Some people will tell you good ones and bad ones but be under no illusion- the end nutrient is the same, and that is glucose.  Whether you eat a chunk of fudge or a raw organic potato with the dirt still on it, that is ending up as glucose in your cells, just in different amounts.

For ease of discussion your big/long/good carbs are ones that take longer to digest because they are bigger molecules that often come combined with some dietary fibre and thus your body uses up a bit more energy to process them. They also tend to have a less dramatic effect on your blood sugar levels which can stave off hunger pangs. Think whole grains, potatoes and beans.

Your short/bad carbs are easily broken down in digestion and join the metabolic systems in the temple that is your body with minimal effort. Think sweet and tasty foods- fruit, honey and table sugar.

Somewhere between the two you find your processed carbs and the less obvious sugars found in dairy which aren’t as easy to categorise. Many foods from bread to beer have sugars in them. The easiest way to identify a sugar is that most of will end in -ose. Glucose, maltose, dextrose and so on. If you are on the alert for added sugars these are on your hit list. Not to mention HFCS which may sound innocent enough until you call it out as High Fructose Corn Syrup. Learn your labels, people.

But do carbs make you fat? That’s what we really mean isn’t it?


An excess of energy you eat vs the energy you expend through the day makes you fat. It is physics, it is thermal dynamics, it is maths. So why do so many diets and eating plans these days suggest that you cut or kill your carb intake? In all honesty it takes a lot of planning and preparation to completely swear off carbs and if you manage it that would be arguably not very good for you. Most low/no carb approaches are likely to reduce your overall calorie intake in one of two ways.

1-      You cut out higher calorie food options or combinations (going clean)

2-      You maintain steady bloody sugar which results in fewer hunger pangs and food cravings (low GI)

I started to get into these areas then strayed dangerously into the TLDR territory, so a better breakdown of these diet strategies will come in later posts. If you want to learn quickly about how sugars work in the body and effect hunger I suggest a copy of Master Your Metabolism by Jillian Michaels.


mmmm lovely bready bread. But is bread making you (and scott pilgrim) fat?

But is it good for you? Even if we understand calories in vs calories out are there other benefits to chucking out the sugar?

The answer is a very muddy yes-and-no. You need an amount of carbohydrates for the energy to just be alive which is why it tastes good! Eating carbs results in serotonin release, the happy chemical, so we eat sweet things and feel good and by side effect have enough energy to breathe and walk and do stuff. Also bulky carbs like fruit and wholegrains come hand in hand with fibre which is really good for your digestive system making us feel full (more happy chemicals) and eliminate solid waste from the body. Yes, I mean poo. Pooing is good for you.

But excess sugar in the diet is readily swept up by your hormones and stashed as fat to keep you warm and stave off potential periods of starvation. As advanced as humans are, your endocrine system doesn’t know that you live within an easy commute to at least two 24 hour supermarkets. So we save calories in the form of body fat, just incase we need them later. This is part of the reason a lot of people recommend a high protein diet to lose body fat- because protein that isn’t pretty much immediately used for growth or repair in the body is excreted. If you eat more super lean turkey steak than your body needs today, you will pee it out. End of. If you eat more chips or yams than your body needs today, it ends up on your arse or, more worryingly, in your mid-section where it is now associated with many weight related health issues like heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Any lower-than-you-are-used-to carb diet can give an immediate result of feeling low, tired and hangry. In simple terms, your body ‘likes’ to run off dietary sugar. It is easy, and if it is what you are used to then your body will try to get you to seek out carby food before burning fat stores. You will crave the bread and the pasta and you will feel wretched while you do. It can take a couple of weeks to adjust. Google low carb flu and ketosis to learn more. That doesn’t necessarily make it a bad move though as after the initial carb-flu many people report feeling less hungry and more energised IF they keep up the low carb lifestyle. Weight loss often comes in hand with this both from stored fat loss and elimination of the water that our body stores in the muscles with sugar preserves as glycogen. That’s what we mean when we say ‘water weight’, the dreaded downfall of the fad diet that looks great on the scales but isn’t actually as much of an achievement as it appears when we eat nothing but cabbage and paprika to lose 8 lbs the week before flying to Ibiza.

Dumping carbs is not a fail safe, nor is it an easy lifestyle choice to make. Most carbs are cheap and delicious and abundant. If you are limiting carbs you need to learn to either cook from scratch or religiously scan your ingredients lists. As someone who has been through a medical sugar ban, I can tell you that those -oses are everywhere. In crisps, in yoghurts, in stews and sauces and in the most diabolical way in so many ‘diet’ products where the sugar goes in to counter the lower fat content. That is another pitfall of going no-carb: you have to eat something else and that is likely to lead to an increase in your fat intake which is potentially worse for weight loss efforts and some health conditions. We will talk about that another time.

With so much stealth sugar out there, it can be seen as easier to blanket dump everything in that carbon-hydrogen-oxygen proportion altogether but I believe that you can get on just fine with regulated carbs included in your diet. And if you regulate most of the time the odd cake binge infront of Marco Polo or your netflix boxset of choice isn’t going to destroy your six pack. Or two pack. No judgement.

And still here we are, TLDR so time to sum up, are you going to eat carbs? Well yes, you will in some way or another unless you are going to full ketosis which is very difficult to maintain longterm and will make you cranky and smell bad. True story.

Are you going to live off chips and brioche then? I really wouldn’t. Just spend some time researching how many laps around the field it will take you to counteract that stack of sandwiches and tweak your diet accordingly. Get a macros tracker like My Fitness Pal or similar and be vigilant because hidden carbs are everywhere and they are not all created equally.

To prove this, I am going back to the front in the name of science and my readers and go for a week where I am going to record my carb intake and do my very utmost to cut out added sugar and let you know how that goes. This is going to hurt.