Sugar is toxic

Eating too much is bad for you. That’s well known. But what more and more studies are showing is that sugar specifically is terrible.

In a NYTimes opinion piece, Mark Bittman writes (emphasis mine):

A study published in the 27 February issue of the journal PLoS One links increased consumption of sugar with increased rates of [type 2] diabetes by examining the data on sugar availability and the rate of [t2] diabetes in 175 countries over the past decade. And after accounting for many other factors, the researchers found that increased sugar in a population’s food supply was linked to higher diabetes rates independent of rates of obesity.

In other words and to oversimplify, according to this study, obesity itself doesn’t cause “adult onset” diabetes, the version that you give yourself: sugar does.*

A fairly bold claim. But people make claims like this all the time – what makes this different?

The study demonstrates this with the same level of confidence that linked cigarettes and lung cancer in the 1960s… “You could not enact a real-world study that would be more conclusive than this one.”

Ouch. But it gets worse. David DiSalvo wrote in Forbes:

Overeating, poor memory formation, learning disorders, depression – all have been linked in recent research to the over-consumption of sugar.

[…]Research indicates that a diet high in added sugar reduces the production of a brain chemical known as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Without BDNF, our brains can’t form new memories and we can’t learn (or remember) much of anything.

[…]Research has also linked low BDNF levels to depression and dementia. It’s possible that low BDNF may turn out to be the smoking gun in these and other diseases, like Alzheimer’s… what seems clear in any case is that a reduced level of BDNF is bad news for our brains, and chronic sugar consumption is one of the worst inhibitory culprits.

So, eating too much sugar is directly linked to type 2 diabetes, depression, dementia and a host of other problems. It also highlights something missing in the “calories in < calories out” weight loss model that has been preached for decades. Calories are not equal. We’re not engines; although 1 calorie will give off the same amount of energy regardless of where it was obtained, the source of that energy can have vastly different impacts on your body and your health.

*Note: It has been rightly pointed out that I didn’t distinguish between type 1 and type 2 (t2) diabetes, which I have now corrected. Type 2 diabetes does have some genetic predisposition – not all people who trigger t2 diabetes are overweight or have poor diets.back

Should I eat a gluten-free diet?

More people are trying to avoid gluten in their diets – up to a quarter, according to USA Today. Why?

There are people who suffer from Celiac disease, where gluten interacts badly with proteins in the gut. Equally, there is the rare person with a wheat allergy, which has similar symptoms to other allergies – hives, sneezing or anaphylactic reactions.

However, most who avoid gluten do so out of a belief that they are wheat or gluten intolerant. This is controversial in some medical communities as there are no defined symptoms or causes, leading to potential overdiagnosis.

What does this mean for a slimmer? Although the science is hazy, there are issues with gluten that affect some people – possibly more than are currently being recognised. As bread isn’t an essential part of anyone’s diet, if you personally feel better when avoiding gluten, there are no reasons not to exclude it from your diet – as long as any replacements aren’t even less beneficial to your health.

Slate:Gluten-free diet: Distinguishing celiac disease, wheat allergy, and gluten intolerance..

Bad sleep ‘dramatically’ alters body

It’s been known for some time that a good night’s sleep is essential for those trying to lose weight. Now, a study by the University of Surrey has shown why this may be the case.

Prof Colin Smith, from the University of Surrey, told the BBC: “There was quite a dramatic change in activity in many different kinds of genes.”

The study shows that hundreds of your genes are affected if you sleep for less than 6 hours a night for just a week.

Prof Smith added: “Clearly sleep is critical to rebuilding the body and maintaining a functional state, all kinds of damage appear to occur – hinting at what may lead to ill health.

“If we can’t actually replenish and replace new cells, then that’s going to lead to degenerative diseases.”

BBC News: Bad sleep 'dramatically' alters body

How can you build a positive habit?

Clean your room. Floss your teeth. Shine your shoes.

Sometimes, no matter how much you try, there are chores just can’t be made fun. So how can you ensure you build and maintain a positive habit you want to incorporate into your life?

Easy. Start today. Do it today. We’ll worry about tomorrow, tomorrow.

You want to do 20 squats a day? Brilliant. So do 20 squats. Now. Go to the loos and do them in a cubicle if you’re at work.

Tomorrow? Well, we’ll talk about that later. But the only time you can ever start anything is now.

Nike keeps FuelBand only for iPhone

Disappointing news from Nike – they’ve recently announced that they’ve stopped work on their much-delayed FuelBand Android app. Android users can still review and control their band using the PC programme, but the need to physically plug the band into your own PC running their software really limits the appeal of the FuelBand as a tracking device, which is largely based on its simplicity and that it’s “always there”.

It’s an interesting move, considering the rumours that Apple is planning to launch an iWatch in the near future that would probably contain the same sort of personal tracking technology. Are Nike and Apple working together on this?

CNET: Nike snubs Google: FuelBand sticks to iOS and Web.

Best Fitness Trackers: What Should You Try?

Fitness trackers are huge in the online world at the moment – but do they work?

Personal fitness devices, like the Nike FuelBand, have been around for a while now, but the tech is starting to enter the mainstream. That said, each has its own unique selling point – that it also monitors your sleep patterns, your diet or your pulse.

We at LazyFit believe that anything to help you track your activity will help you naturally increase your fitness levels. Check out our in-depth review of the FuelBand for more on why, but in essence the need to improve on your previous score will encourage you to improve on anything you track.

So which is the best? The Huffington Post took a short test-drive of six of the most popular devices.

Huffington Post:Best Fitness Trackers: What Should You Try?.

How many calories are there in your salad?

Portion Sizes: Calories In Salad Ingredients

Salads. Nothing healthier, right?
Well, that depends. The problem isn’t in the green bits – they’re usually great. But what about the toppings? Can you guess how many calories or carbs there are in the cheese or dressing? Huffington Post has a slideshow with some examples and I have to admit I was wrong on quite a number. Take a look!
Huffington Post: Portion Sizes: Calories In Salad Ingredients.

Children Eating Fewer Calories – Study

A small step in the right direction. The study says that lower carbohydrate intake has dropped children’s overall calorie intake.

“To reverse the current prevalence of obesity, these numbers have to be a lot bigger,” said Marion Nestle, professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University. “But they are trending in the right direction, and that’s good news.”

via New York Times: Children in U.S. Are Eating Fewer Calories, Study Finds.

Do you know how fat you are?

I know, it’s starting to look like I only read the Guardian – but they’ve had a fantastic little run of articles and I’m not ashamed to promote the good ones. This is a useful tool and it will be an eye-opener for many, I’m sure. How does your weight really stack up against your BMI – and against the rest of the world?

The Guardian: Do you know how fat you are? – obesity interactive

Lack of sleep? Keep away from the buffet

Diet councillors regularly talk about how dieters need to make sure they get enough sleep. Is this really a problem?

16 normal-weight males were asked to select their ideal portion sizes of 7 meal and 6 snack items, in both hungry and sated conditions. In one condition, they were sleep-deprived, in the other condition they had a night with approximately 8 hours sleep.

“After a night of total sleep loss, these males chose greater portion sizes of the energy-dense foods. Interestingly, they did so both before and after a breakfast, suggesting that sleep deprivation enhances food intake regardless of satiety. Bearing in mind that insufficient sleep is a growing problem in modern society, our results may explain why poor sleep habits can affect people’s risk to gain weight in the long run.”

Yes. The less sleep you have, the more your body attempts to make up the energy gap by increasing your desire for calories.

Lazy Fit tip: Get enough sleep. The less you get, the more likely you are to try to replace this with food.