Sugar & Spice-the hidden fat makers…

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Sugar & Spice and all things nice…

This may be what little girls are made of, but it’s what an even more overweight boys are made of too.  You may have seen the headlines last year-the West Midlands is the fattest region ofEurope, with nearly a third of people categorised as obese.  In my work as a Personal Trainer I find weight-loss is easily the single biggest reason people come to us, yet I am surprised by the number of people who believe weight loss can be achieved through exercise alone.

In my experience, 75% of the weight loss battle is dietary.  Exercise will help you lose weight quicker, but the main benefits of exercise for the average person are health related.  Exercise will combat heart disease, osteoporosis and depression to name just three major diseases and will help with many other common problems like back complaints, asthma or falls in the elderly.  However you would need to run for 10 miles to burn off the calories in a bottle of wine or a fast food Meal.  Isn’t easier to just drink or eat a little less?

You may have heard of the Glycaemic Index (G.I.) and the many confusing diets surrounding it.  However if you could make one simple change to your eating today, it would be to change the G.I. of your food.

In short G.I. refers to how quickly the food you eat is turned into sugar in your blood.  Foods with a high G.I. are turned into sugar quickly and dump a lot of sugar into your bloodstream.  Low G.I. foods are broken down steadily and give you a prolonged supply of lower-dose sugar.

A sudden dump of sugar from high G.I. food will give you a buzz of energy (sugar rush) and your body will look to level this out by producing insulin.  This will remove sugar, probably storing it as fat, and often over-compensates removing a little too much.  This causes the low that often follows a sugar rush.

Over time, your body may become less sensitive to these sugar rushes and produce less insulin.  This is the start of diabetes.  High G.I. food will also leave you feeling hungry sooner, give you energy swings that can effect moods and lead to more fat storage, meaning weight gain.  As you can see, high G.I. has few benefits for everyday life.

So what are high G.I. foods?  The rule of thumb is anything processed, white or sweet-tasting.  White bread and  rice, sugar and cakes, chocolate and sweets are all high G.I.  In short, all the things we like!  We don’t need to avoid these things completely, but if we make sure 90% of our food is low G.I. we can afford to have the odd high G.I. treat without the negative effects.

Switch most of your high G.I. food to low and you’ll make a big difference to your health.  Replace white rice and pasta with brown.  Eat unprocessed foods by cooking from scratch, not buying ready meals.  Eat wholemeal bread and whole grain cereals.  Making these changes and trying to be ‘good’ 90% of the time will allow you to have high G.I. treats with fewer negative effects.


Jamie Johnston is a Personal trainer in Birmingham