Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Salt & Sugar: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly
Silent killer or manna from Heaven? What’s the straight dope on the role of salt and sugar in your diet? These nutrients, so vital for sustaining life that historical lore could fill the History Channel for a month, are also the root of the world’s obesity epidemic. Next week, these two misunderstood nutrients will be the topic of my live video chat q & a with a longtime sidekick, or colleague if you will, Denis Faye.
Here’s a little teaser:
Most of us are aware of the evils of sugar. Modern food companies have been adding more and more of it into packaged foods to the point that they’ve created an imbalanced sweet tooth for many consumers. This has led to an overindulgence problem that is the spearhead of the obesity epidemic.
Sugar is a high-density food, meaning that it doesn’t give you a lot of bang for the buck in a nutritional sense because it has a lot of calories with few nutrients. In nature, where it exists only one part of a whole foods picture, it aids in transporting the other elements of those foods into your system efficiently, as well as providing energy on its own. The problem is that we’ve isolated and now put it into things where it serves no purpose than to fill you up and make you crave more of it.
Salt you’ve heard of too. Your doctor probably tells you to lighten up on it because overconsumption can lead to a myriad of diseases. It makes the news regularly, under the name of one of its ingredients, sodium (salt is sodium chloride), when we learn things like a single dinner entre at a food chain contains more sodium than the RDA states you need in a week.
Salt is nutrient dense as it’s a vital electrolyte with no calories. We can’t live without it. Because of this we tend to crave it, which food companies know so they chock food full of it in order to fuel our desire to buy more and more of their products.
If these stories sound similar it’s because they are, the net of which is to sell you more foods that cost little to make. These foods, both high in calories and low on nutrients, have the unique ability to make us both fat and malnourished at the same time. We’ve been swindled into terrible eating habits and, worse, created an epidemic addiction for two things that are clearly killing us. Yet...
These are two of the most important foods on the planet.
Try to perform at your highest level and you’ll quickly understand the marvels of sugar. Sugar turns to glucose in your blood and glycogen in you muscles and this fuels your body and brain far better than anything else. If you run out of sugar in a long athletic event your body will slow down and, at some point if you don’t stop, die. Used at the right time, sugar is the most powerful performance-enhancing substance known to man.
run out of sugar during a race and you'll quickly learn its merits
Salt is even more important and less understood. Most of us consume far too much of it but, oddly enough, the inverse is a big problem in healthy populations who can be too strict about limiting it. Salt is absolutely vital for life on any level but the more active you are the more you need. 500mg a day is enough for an average sedentary person but a cyclist racing on a 100-degree day can burn through 2,000mg in an hour! Those who eschew all salt find themselves at risk for hyponatremia, an electrolyte imbalance that will kill you swifter that a bite from a black mamba. There’s a good reason salt has been the catalyst of many wars throughout history.
gandhi used salt to thwart the british
Join us Thursday, October 25, and 2PST (5EST) and have your questions ready. Links will be posted on all of Beachbody’s social feeds and the chat page here.