The Relationship Between Artificial Sweeteners & Weightloss

artificial sweeteners

Artificial sweeteners are attractive alternatives to sugar because they add no calories to the diet.  Well, they add no calories to the diet at the time they are being ingested.  What goes on days, weeks, and months following artificial sweetener consumption (or addiction) though? Can extra calories be packed on then?

If you’re drinking zero calorie, artificially sweetened drinks everyday, sure calories aren’t coming from those diet cokes, but how are those diet cokes influencing other eating/drinking decisions you make? How are they affecting your brain? Are they giving you any nutritional benefit whatsoever?

Typically found in products marked “sugar-free” or “diet___,” the following are the most commonly used artificial sweeteners:

  • Aspartame (Nutrasweet, Equal) 
  • Sucralose (Splenda)
  • Saccharin (Sweet & Low)
  • Acesulfame potassium (Sweet One, Sunnett)

If weightloss is your goal, maybe think twice next time you go for one of these…

According to Dr. Joseph Mercola,  research has repeatedly shown that “no cal” or “low cal” sweeteners are anything but good for weight loss.  Instead, studies have shown that artificial sweeteners can

  • stimulate appetite
  • increase carb cravings
  • stimulate fat storage & weight gain

According to Ryan Andrews, these artificial sweeteners stimulate overeating by enhancing appetite and/or disrupting learned associations between sweet taste & caloric density of food.  We get used to the extra sweet tastes (NOTE: aspartame exceeds table sugar sweetness by 200 times!). This is why & how diet sodas and other artificially sweetened foods & beverages can deter us from the enjoyment of unprocessed, natural foods.  

If your goal is to better your diet and/or change your lifestyle and nutrition habits, your best bet is to always go for all natural foods.  That would be fresh fruits, vegetables, and natural sugars.  Eliminate the processed junk.  When choosing food & drinks, think about if that food or drink actually will do something to improve your health.  Although it hasn’t been “proven” that diet sodas or other artificially sweetened foods are the final blow to one’s health status, we do know that it’s not going to do much to improve our health.  With that being said, it’s probably not the best idea & there are plenty of healthier options out there for you to choose from.

So rather than spending your money on artificially sweetened foods and drinks, spend it on quality foods and drinks.  Your body will thank you!

References:

“All About Diet Soda’s”  by Ryan Andrews via Precision Nutrition

“Artificial Sweeteners Cause Greater Weight Gain than Sugars, Yet Another Study Reveals” by Dr. Joseph Mercola

” Artificial Sweeteners & Other Sugar Substitutes” Mayo Clinic

Quote of the Month

Habits

“First we form habits, then they form us. ” – Rob Gilbert

It’s been said that it takes 21 days to form a habit.

The human brain is a highly adaptive piece of machinery.  If you repeat a habit often enough, certain synaptic pathways will get programmed into your brain.  Since this stuff IS being programmed in our brains, it’s important to be sure that we are forming positive habits that are going to benefit us both now & later on down the road, rather than bad ones that will lead us further and further away from our goals.

Personally, when I hear this quote, I relate it directly to diet & exercise although it could easily be related to any situation.  Positive exercise and nutrition related habits we pick up, form us, just as negative exercise & nutrition related habits form us.  These habits can form us physically (our appearance), as well as mentally (how we think).

So how do we become successful at forming habits so that they can form us for the better?

I’d suggest choosing 1 positive habit you’d like to change or 1 positive habit you’d like to instill.  Don’t try to overload yourself with trying to change everything at once (unless you KNOW you are one of those persons who has no problem doing this).  For most people, focusing on 1 thing at a time will tend to work & actually end up sticking long-term.

So there’s your challenge.  Choose 1 bad habit that you want to/need to change (that you feel is stopping you from  reaching your fitness goals) and start applying it today.  This could be getting to the gym 5 times a week versus 4.  It could be completely cutting out the 1 or 2 sodas you drink each day and replacing them with water or tea.  Whatever it is, make sure it is very specific and easily defined.  No gray areas allowed.

You’re only 21 days away from a new, positive habit that’s going to put you closer to your goals.  Get after it! : )

Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Cranberries

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As kids I’m sure we all had our share of  “nightmare-ish” encounters with brussels sprouts.  I know I did.  However, recently after having them again for the first time in a LONG time…I’m hooked!  The nutritional benefits of brussels sprouts are tremendous and this recipe is delicious so I’m begging you, give them another chance.

Nutritional Benefits

For starters, a half a cup of brussels sprouts contains only 30 calories.  Unlike most vegetables, brussels sprouts are rather high in protein (2g per 1/2 cup), accounting for more than a quarter of their calories.  This is an incomplete protein source (meaning it doesn’t provide the full spectrum of essential amino acids), but adding the proper whole grains could make this a complete protein.

More good news:

There’s less than 1 gram of fat in a serving, as well as 3-5 grams of fiber per cup.  In other words, brussels sprouts will fill you up rather than fill you out!

Did I mention that they’re also loaded in vitamin A, folacin, potassium, & calcium? 

Hopefully that’s enough to persuade you to give brussels sprouts another try…

What You Need:

1 pound Brussels sprouts (approx.)

1/3 cup Dried cranberries

1/3 cup Quinoa

Olive Oil

Salt

What To Do: 

Heat oven to 400 degrees & saute’ a skillet on medium-high heat, using olive oil.  Slice brussell sprouts in halves, adding them to the pan flat side face down. Leave here until  brussell sprouts appear slightly charred then remove and place on baking sheet.  Add salt to taste, and toss in the oven for roughly 15 minutes.  Add quinoa & dried fruit & mix, serve & ENJOY!

… I think you’ll be happy you gave brussels sprouts another try.

Note: Try adding dried, tart cherries, apricots, or any other dried fruit your heart desires if you want to mix it up a bit.

2 Important Principles of Training You Should Know

women lift heavy

If you’re working hard in the gym & continue to see results week after week, month after month, I congratulate you.  You obviously are doing things right.  On the other hand, if you feel like you’re working hard in the gym but continue to look the same, this could be why (diet aside)…

Let’s take a look at these 2 very important principles of training: 

  • Principle of Accommodation: this principle states that the body reaches homeostasis in response to a repeated response 

homeostasis: a stable, constant condition

We want to avoid our bodies reaching this stable constant condition, also known as a plateau.  Here, no changes will be occurring within the body as it is simply just meeting the demands that are being put forth.  However, make some changes within your program and that plateau can take a hike!  

  • Overload Principle: this principle states that a greater stress or load on the body (than it is normally accustomed to handling) needs to occur in order to continue to see results 

When we learn a new skill for the first time, most likely it will be challenging.  Repeat it over & over & over again… it eventually becomes effortless.  The exact same weights & the exact same exercises are not going to do you any good long term.  Changes will occur at the start, but in order to keep those changes happening long term, (as this principle states) you will need to provide the body with a greater stress or load.  

Don’t be afraid to increase the weight (yes, ladies…do it!).  

If you’re not ready to increase the weight yet, at least do something to stimulate your neuromuscular system in a way it’s not used to.  For example, change your base of support or challenge your stability using an Airex pad.  However, please don’t turn your workouts into a circus act by doing a reverse lunge on the bosu with a medicine ball rotation and overhead press.  That’s just silly. : )

Gray Cook has this concept known as the “edge of ability concept” which meshes perfectly with this principle.  When performing an exercise or movement, you should be at your edge of ability.   If you’re talking or not having to think about the movement while doing it, you’re probably under that ability.  If you aren’t able to perform the task, you’re past that edge & need to resort back.  Simply put, if an exercise is too easy, you won’t learn (or change).  If it’s too hard you won’t learn (or change… & possibly increase your risk of injury).

Remember, something is always better than nothing.  However, if you want to take your training to the next level, these principles should be applied in your program so that you can reach your fitness goals & them some. : )

Protein: How Much & Why?

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How much protein should we be eating each meal?

Most of the time, the numbers you hear are 20-30 grams of protein/meal.  

Have you  also heard that consuming anything more than 20-30 grams in a meal is actually a “waste?”

Whether you have or not, let’s explore why it may or may not be a waste.

The following 2 studies show that consuming more than 20-30g of protein had no greater result in maximizing protein synthesis within subjects:

“The first study showed that when college-aged weight trainers drink 0g, 5g, 10g, 20g, or 40g of protein after weight training sessions, muscle protein synthesis is stimulated maximally at the 20g dose. No further increases in muscle protein synthesis occurred at the 40g dose.”

“The second study showed that when young and elderly volunteers were given 30 or 90g of dietary protein in a single meal, the 30g dose maximally stimulated muscle protein synthesis. No further increases in muscle protein synthesis occurred at the 90g dose.” 

As mentioned before, both of these studies showed that at 20-30g of protein/meal, protein synthesis is maximally stimulated.  Is this the only reason we eat protein though?  Or are there other benefits to consuming a diet rich in protein besides just protein synthesis?

ADDITIONAL PROTEIN BENEFITS:

Increased thermic effect of feeding (TEF): TEF is the amount of energy expenditure that comes from the cost of processing food for use and storage in our bodies.  The thermic effect of protein is roughly double that of carbohydrates & fat.  This means that eating protein may lead to a higher metabolic rate.

Improved weight loss profile: reducing carbohydrate ratio can increase fat loss, spare muscle mass, improve satiety & improve blood glucose management.

Reduction in cardiovascular risk: “Increasing the percentage of protein in the diet from (11-23%) while decreasing the percentage of carbohydrate (from 63-48%) lowers LDL cholesterol (the bad stuff) and triglyceride concentrations  with concomitant increases in HDL cholesterol (the good stuff) concentrations.”

Increased protein turnover: Tissues in our body (including muscle), all must go through a regular program of turnover. A balance between protein breakdown & protein synthesis (build-up) governs protein turnover.  A diet with adequate protein amounts helps aid in getting rid of old muscle more quickly so that we are able to build up new, better quality muscle to take its place.

In no way, shape, or form am I pushing you to start a high protein diet. More so, I just want to bring awareness to how much protein we should be consuming during each meal and what the benefits of that would be.  Even though studies have shown that protein synthesis is only maximized within the 20-30g/protein range, we can still gain these other benefits to consuming more.  Therefore, it is perfectly fine to consume more than 20-30g/meal.

Remember, when it comes to diet & exercise,  what works for 1 person may not work for the next.  A marathoner isn’t going to have the same diet as a bodybuilder.  Do what works for you & your body with reap the results & thank you in the process!

References:

Protein 101: How much with each meal;  John Berardi

Ingested protein dose response of muscle and albumin protein synthesis after resistance exercise in young men ; Moore DR, Robinson MJ, Fry JL, Tang JE, Glover El, Wilkinson SB, Prior T, Tamopolsky MA, Phillips SM

A moderate serving of high-quality protein maximally stimulates skeletal muscle protein synthesis in young elderly and subjects; Symons TB, Sheffield-Moore M, Wolfe RR, Paddon-Jones D.

Quote of the Month

Accomplishment

You’ve got to get up every morning with determination if you’re going to go to bed with satisfaction. -George Lorimer

This is a pretty powerful quote if you ask me.  Personally, I like relating this quote to fitness goals, although it could obviously be power to drive any type of goal.  How great would it feel knowing that every night you went to bed, you were completely satisfied with the day?  Maybe it’s satisfaction from the run or the workout you had that day.  Maybe you’re satisfied with the fact that you prepared meals in advance so therefore ate very clean that day.  Whatever it is, it’s important to take a second each day to mask in that feeling of satisfaction.

If you find yourself not satisfied, why?  What didn’t get accomplished? What did you miss?  Take note of it, & change it.  You will always have those days that unfortunately won’t pan out exactly how you had wished.  How do you react to situations like that though?  Was the event that caused such dissatisfaction even in your control, making it worth being up-set about?

Everyone has their own thing that may work for them but here’s what I like to do (& it’s just an idea)…

Plan Ahead. 

Know what you’re going to do tomorrow.  Plan your workout and what time it’s going to happen.  Plan your meals.  Make a list of other things that need to get done that day so that you know they do.

I truly believe that doing this gives purpose to days, drives motivation (as well as determination) and allows for  small goals to be reached daily with the big goal always in sight as well. 

Frozen Banana Bites

frozen banana bites

Always being on the hunt for a sweet, but still healthy snack, I stumbled across this recipe fitting that description all but perfectly.

These make a great snack for anytime you’re needing that taste of something sweet.  They’re great because they’re bite-size (so just control the portion!) and very simple to make.

What you need: 

5 medium ripe bananas

1tbsp. peanut butter

2oz. nonfat vanilla greek yogurt

What to do: 

Peel 1 banana & mash it with the peanut butter and yogurt. 

Peel the other 4 bananas, slicing them into half-inch thick slices.  

Smear the banana, peanut butter & yogurt mixture on the banana slices and top with the other halves making banana sandwiches.  

Place on plate & freeze for 2 hours.  

It doesn’t get any easier than that! Enjoy! : )

Note: they taste pretty great before freezing too!

Commit to be fit.