Are Artificial Sweeteners Bad?

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I always thought I was doing myself a favor when I would use an artificial sweetener or sugar substitute in my tea, cereal, or anything else I would sprinkle it in, or on. Now all of a sudden I hear advertising claims for the use of sugar.  What gives?

Artificial sweeteners can raise insulin levels, which in turn will send a message to the brain to store fat, which leads to weight gain. It may be psychological as well. When we are told that something has no calories or less calories, we automatically believe that there is room for more. Maybe by cutting calories in your diet soda intake, you justify the burger, fries, chips, second portion of mashed potatoes or whatever you have.

Did you know that as little as one diet soda a day can increase your risk of diabetes or metabolic syndrome? Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions that includes increased cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, larger waistlines and elevated glucose. This raises your risk of stroke, diabetes and heart disease. Other negative affects can be headaches, tooth enamel loss and an increased risk of depression. Lower bone mineral density in female soda drinkers, raises the chance of osteoporosis as well.

Nutritional Value? Forget it. Not with an artificial sweetener. Do yourself a favor and drink water. So you like the bubbles? Get sparkling water, or put a straw in the glass and blow bubbles. Just kidding about the straw, I wanted to see if you were still reading. But I enjoyed it as a kid. My dad wasn’t so thrilled with me though.

If you are weaning yourself off of regular soda, a diet alternative soda may be for you, but only if it is short term. Our brains are wired to receive the signal that it had sugar, Not an artificial sweetener.

Our brain responds to sweets by telling us to have more. When we take in a sweet flavor without calorie content, the craving is not satisfied and we drink or eat more sweets to try to make up that difference, thus taking in more calories. Remember that the excess is stored as fat. Sugar actually sends a signal to the brain that it has received it’s reward, Sucralose, (my sweetener of choice),will not do that. So the viscous cycle continues. I will throw a word of caution about the excessive use of refined sugars. Moderation!

I am not a licensed medical professional, registered dietitian, nor do I claim to have all the answers. I am trying to raise your awareness of the possible dangers or hurdles you could face with a weight loss program. If you question this, please research for yourself. Knowledge and the application of it will take you extremely far. 

In fitness, Bob

Hydration

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The recipe is at the end. But you’re not really going to skip through this are you?

What is hydration? In short it means the addition of water. What I am referring to is the process of providing an adequate amount of liquid to your bodies tissues. With muscle being 70% water, we don’t want to hold back on our water intake anymore than we want to starve the body of good fuel.

A water loss decrease of just 1 1/2 % will reduce muscle strength. Water is important. Proper digestion is benefited by hydration as well. Nutrients are absorbed faster and body waste is carried through the digestive tract quicker, with less time for nasty bacteria to harbor inside of us.

Dehydration, or the lack of water, will cause negative effects, or death in severe cases. Irritability, thirst, dry skin, decreased urination, headaches, sleepiness, constipation, dizziness, you get the idea. Cutting down on your coffee habit? Make sure you replace that liquid intake with water. This causes headaches.

I have heard people tell me that they don’t like to drink that much water because it causes too many bathroom breaks. See your doctor to make sure there isn’t an underlying condition. I say take advantage of the the break and get some circulation. The mental clarity will help you focus better. Who wants you cranky and tired at work anyhow?

Okay, so hopefully you are starting to see that it’s beneficial to drink up. (Sorry guys, not last call)

Try to make a habit of replacing fluid output with fluid intake. If you wait until your body tells you you’re thirsty, you are already dehydrating. Another saying is that; if it touches your lips, take ten sips.

Sports drinks are good but they have a purpose. They too can be abused. Fruit juices count, just watch the sugars. Fruits are another great source of water. Watermelon, hence the name, is 90% water. this makes a great slush as well. Oranges, grapefruit, and melons should not be counted out either. Grapefruit is a very low Glycemic Index fruit too. Cucumbers, celery and tomatoes are good choices also. You can even try adding a sprig of mint, fruit or cucumber slices to your glass of water to make it more appealing.  I like a splash of lime.

Recipe time: Watermelon, cucumber & mint slush…..Mmmmmmmmmmmmm  

Do ahead tip: chill or freeze the watermelon  5-6 c seedless watermelon, 1 small cucumber peeled and cut into chunks, 2 Tbsp lime juice, 2-3 Tbsp honey or sweetener of your choice, and a sprig of mint.

Combine all ingredients in blender or processor until smooth. This will keep in the fridge for up to 2 days but I doubt you can leave it alone that long. The pulp is good for you, or you can process longer. Add a couple of coconut water ice cubes, or whatever you like to thin if desired.                    Drink up and hydrate friends!                                                         In fitness, Bob