A typical North American diet on one day looks like this:
– 7am: bagel, orange juice, a banana
– 10am: feeling a little drained… coffee, sugar, milk
– 12pm: starving… panini and potato salad
– 3pm: mid-afternoon crash… Mars bar
– 6pm: starving and in the rush… pasta and chicken breast
– 9pm: hungry again… 0% fat yogurt and cookies
The problem with this diet is that it constantly triggers insulin to remove the high sugar intake in the blood; hence, you end up hungry every few hours and tired in between meals!
To help regulate your sugar cravings, you need to control your insulin level. But to do this, you need to understand how sugar is dealt with in your body. They are three basics hormones coming into play for this:
Insulin – Insulin is like the air conditioner in the blood. This hormone, secreted by the pancreas, is responsible of many basics functions, including balancing the fat-burning and carb-burning metabolisms and controlling hunger. Once you ingest carbs, it is secreted in the blood to mobilize the sugar into storage, in the liver and the muscles as glycogen. In the liver, glycogen can be released as glucose to be used as an energy source.
Glucagon – Glucagon acts as the heater in the blood. This hormone enables to use the excess energy that has been stored, in your fat storage for example. It is also secreted by your pancreas following an energy expenditure, like exercising or fasting. Like the insulin, it acts to stabilize the sugar level in the blood.
Leptin – Leptin is an hormone that balances the energy spent versus the energy stored to keep the fat levels in your body at equilibrium. It is secreted by the fat cells according to the amount of fat stored. Most importantly, it is responsible for the feeling of satiety.
Now, knowing how the sugar is dealt with the blood, it is easy to understand how insulin sensitivity comes about. When you eat a lot of carbs during the day, insulin is constantly secreted in the blood to reduce the blood sugar level. Once glucose (sugar in the blood) the amount that can be stored as glycogen in the liver and muscles is exceeded, there is a problem!?! The liver then converts the excess of glucose into saturated fat called palmitic acids that merge into group of three: the triglycerides, e.g., HDL, LDL! When the system is regulated to burn sugar due to the excessive consumption of carbs, the metabolism do not use your fat storage as an energy source, but rather accumulate fat in your cells while being busy burning that excess of sugar! And triglycerides accumulates in the blood, leading to increased levels of HDL and LDL, known as elevated cholesterol markers in the blood!
Hence, to prevent that vicious cycle that leads up to gaining fat mass and, ultimately, insulin resistance, you need to control your carb intake. The Whole Life Challenge focus on this nutritional aspect by eliminating all sugar intake, except from fruits. After a one to two-weeks phase of detoxification where you feel drained and fatigued, you should experience more balanced energy levels throughout the day. Then, your metabolism is able to use stored fat as an energy source, which is more sustainable that the carb-burning cycle!
Keep your eyes peeled for more helpful info to come from Coach Marie-Eve.