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Are those sweeties making you fat?

posted on Monday, 18th October 2010 | find under 
SweetsHEY there. What with holidays and spangly new blog engines I've been a bit silent for the past few weeks.  But we're back (me and the bump that is), currently snuggled up in perhaps my favourite ever piece of Sweaty Betty fashion, the Robertson Cape:
I've been writing another piece for BodyFit magazine this week, this time it's all about vices and how we often hold on to little habits that we don't think will do us much harm.  When of course, they do!
The diet and fitness industry used to be all about low fat, low calories, calories in versus calories out, treadmills and cross-trainers. But there's a massive shift in thinking - already underway - and it's all about insulin, sugar and belly fat.  We saw it with the Zone diet, we saw it with Patrick Holford's low GI diet and it's gathering momentum.  
As part of my research I got hold of US best selling fitness author Jorge Cruise's latest book, The Belly Fat Cure, which is all about sugars and artificial ingredients like modified corn syrup and aspartame.  In a nutshell, if we consume too much sugar, we build up an insulin resistance.  Insulin is the hormone that helps us process sugars.  According to Cruise it is also responsible for pushing fat into fat cells. Without balancing out our insulin levels it is simply impossible for the body to lose fat.
Even if you are pretty slim and fit but have a sweet tooth, you're likely to be storing fat around your tummy.  And far from it just being a little ring of contentedness that proves you're a normal human being, belly fat is an indicator that you're storing fat around your internal organs, that really nasty visceral fat. This is why the thickness of our waistlines is now being used as an indicator that we might be more susceptible to conditions like Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease.
So what can we do about it? 
The answer is twofold.  Most obviously, we'd all benefit from cutting down the amount of sugars in our diet.  
  • Eat regular meals, packed full of protein to regulate your appetite.
  • Look out for hidden sugars in processed foods such as breakfast cereals.
  • Cut down on alchohol (sugar) and artificial sweeteners which in many ways are worse than natural sugars.
  • Cut down on refined carbohydrates, switching them for unrefined foods and complex carbohydrates like sweet potatoes.
We can also manage the way our body responds to sugars.
  • Have protein with your sugars, so consider having a few nuts with every piece of fruit you eat (try it, you'll be amazed at how much fuller you'll feel).
Above all, if you are craving something sweet, you are probably just hungry!  Eating a proper meal or a healthy balanced snack like a yoghurt (with some nuts), some apple slices with a small amount of cheese or peanut butter, or a slice of toast with houmus will help curb your sugar cravings.  Even if it's more calories, you are less likely to store fat from a balanced snack!
Give it a try Betties and get a handle on those sweet munchies. 
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