There is a divide in the non-drinking community where some people believe that drinking mocktails and zero alcohol beers, wines and spirits is counter-productive to abstainig from alcohol.
I disagree. Some people genuinely like mixology or the taste of beer. Back in my twenties, I used to watch my father nurse a six-pack of Odoul’s Beer over the summer and not get it. “What’s the point in drinking a beer with no alcohol?” To which my father would reply, “I like the taste of beer, but I don’t like the effects of alcohol.”
Fast-forward about a decade and I totally see where he was coming from. Where I can understand people being concerned about the cognitive associations between a zero alcohol glass of Chardonnay, I can also understand that some people like the taste of a drink but not its side effects.
Okay, now that we’ve scratched that surface – on to today’s post; How to fake a Rum and Coke.
First, a public service announcement: I drink sugar-free beverages – or as they say here in Scotland, ‘fizzy drinks’ – so if that’s not your thing, you might not like this. However, I had my husband, who rarely enjoys drinking soda or anything other than water, try this the other night, and he thought it was quite tasty.
This drink recipe requires only two ingredients, contains no alcohol and is even sugar-free (though you could use regular cola if you so choose!).
I have always loved blended coffee drinks, and sweet protein shakes. One thing I have struggled with now that I live in the UK is they don’t have coffee creamers. In America, you can get SO many flavoured coffee creamers, it borders on obsession. I love creamers and so Jordan’s Skinny Syrups are a fantastic alternative for making sweet drinks and snacks.
[Pin this recipe for later]
Back in my real Rum & Coke drinking days, I loved Bacardi Razz, so I experimented with Pepsi Max Raspberry with the Jordan’s Skinny Cinnamon and Vanilla syrup and it was, well…
“If you don’t eat enough calories, your body will go into ‘starvation mode’ and it will hang onto fat, and you will gain weight.”
“You should eat six small meals instead of three to lose weight.”
I’m sure you have heard these before.
The girl from accounting says them.
I used to say it myself. Though I had no proof, it sounded like it made sense. I mean, our bodies do respond to stress in times of crisis – so surely it is designed to literally ‘stall’ metabolic processing so that we don’t die?
This blog post is all about popular things people say to justify why losing weight is complicated and futile.
Spoiler alert: It’s not. But let’s look at the first item on our list:
Thermic Effect of Food
First, let’s look at TEF – the thermic effect of food or the amount of energy expenditure above the basal metabolic rate due to the cost of processing food for use and storage. (Whew – that was a mouthful!) The TEF averages at about 10% of a person’s caloric intake and varies based on macro groups – i.e. dietary fat is easier to process than protein. For example, when you consume 100 calories of protein, your body will only provide energy for 70-75 of those calories, whereas if you were to eat 100 calories from fat, your body will provide energy for around 97 of those calories.
Then comes the ‘How many meals/times should I eat per day’ discussion. There is much speculation (and misinformation) about how much and how often a person eats effecting their overall metabolism and weight loss efforts.
Again, something I believed, but through personal experience have discovered is also not true.
That’s where academic and scientific studies can help us to separate fact from fiction.
A recent study conducted by the University of Ottawa found that increasing meal frequencydoes not promote more significant weight loss when observing the weight loss progress between two groups of obese men and women. Each group was administered either a high meal frequency (3 meals and 3 snacks per day) or a low meal frequency (3 meals per day, no snacks) diet throughout eight weeks. Each group was instructed to complete the study under the same amount of energy restriction (total calories consumed).
So, if eating three, four or six meals timed throughout the day is what works best for you – go for it, but know that there is no one hard and fast rule when it comes to the number of meals you eat per day.
What it really comes down to is our next item, calories.
CICO (Calories In, Calories Out)
Many people don’t believe this, but when it comes to weight
loss, gain or homeostasis—it’s calories in/calories out (CICO).
That is the rule, but of course, some exceptions and variables make the concept not 100% foolproof. An example of an exception would be in individuals with underlying metabolic and hormonal conditions and those who are not addressing the issue through medical and/or dietary means. And an example of variables that impact CICO is the thermic effect of food concept explained above
Hormonal conditions can prevent weight loss or even cause excessive weight loss or weight gain. Ultimately a combination of medication and diet working in harmony (for example, a low GI or ketogenic diet for individuals diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome to combat insulin resistance) along with a suitable caloric intake can help to regulate this issue. In some cases, without the need for prescription medication. Notice, calories still continue to be a factor in this situation despite a change in dominant macros levels.
Now, it is true that when you reduce calories (and lose weight), the number of calories the body requires will decrease as well. I think this is where people cling to ideas like ‘starvation mode’ and ‘long-term weight loss is unsustainable’.
Here’s the deal: If you change your lifestyle (i.e. lower your caloric intake and increase your physical activity) and then after reaching your goal go right back to eating the way you did before and not exercising – you’re going to gain that weight again and probably more. That doesn’t mean your efforts didn’t work – it means you stopped being consistent and didn’t adjust your lifestyle accordingly. Many people go through this when they don’t address the underlying issues they have with food. You can read about whether or not you have a toxic relationship with food here.
What we’re talking about are called total daily energy expenditure (TDEE) and adaptive thermogenesis.
TDEE is comprised of both resting (BMR – Basal Metabolic Rate) and non-resting energy expenditure (the combination of exercise energy expenditure, TEF, and non-exercise activity thermogenesis.)
Simply stated: If a person eats fewer calories than their body requires at rest, they will create a surplus and their body will lose weight. The more active this individual is, the more calories they will burn and used in tandem with a reduced calorie diet, will potentially create more significant weight loss results.
As the body reduces in mass, the caloric requirement will also drop — and as this happens cutting calories further will adjust the body to continue to lose weight or adjusting/increasing caloric intake to create an energy equilibrium, which will result in maintaining the loss of weight. This is, of course, simplistic and can vary for issues such as hormonal imbalances and body composition variances.
‘Starvation Mode’ (and that famous weight loss reality show study)
A few years ago, a study conducted by the Journal of Obesity, set out to measure long-term changes in resting metabolic rate and body composition in The Biggest Loser contestants.
When published, I was caught in an 18-month period of time where I was reading all of Dr Linda Bacon’s research and books and immersing myself in the HAES community. As a result of this interest, I was very taken in by this study as I, as a fitness and nutrition professional, had found the show to be problematic in many ways. ( I am in NO way saying that I had lost my mind to believe any of the research Dr Bacon has done, but I have since changed my mind about some of it – but that’s for another post.)
In the Obesity study, it showed how the contestants of The Biggest Loser had regained the weight loss on the show and damaged their metabolisms in the process.
Okay, this is something that I have dealt with when working with clients who want to lose weight. Most people want it off, like yesterday, and think that cutting out entire food groups or creating huge calorie deficits every day is the only way. And while those methods may help them lose weight – rapidly – they will likely not keep it off, which is what this study proves. However, the deception is that sustainable weight loss is impossible for obese individuals and that is not true.
“Diets don’t work.” Okay, no they don’t when they are ‘crash diets’ or unsustainable and highly restrictive.
Hollywood juice diets, master cleanses and ‘detox’ – oh, how
I LOATHE – pills will help you lose water weight in the form of excessive bowel
movements and carbohydrate restriction.
Cutting back 500-1000 calories per day and adding in 150
minutes of cardio per week will help most individuals lose 1-2 pounds per week
and create a lifestyle (and weight loss) that is sustainable.
The difference between a person like a contestant on The Biggest Loser and an individual who decides to cut 500-1000 calories per day and incorporate more physical activity into their lifestyle is the rate and severity of the weight loss between their starting point, the timeframe and the overall amount of weight loss.
In the case of TBL contestants, they were restricting calories at a severe level while also performing hours and hours of physical activity per day; this is the epitome of ‘crash dieting’!
And while it may seem like a contradiction saying ‘starvation mode’ isn’t a thing, the following example is one of those exceptions I addressed earlier in this post: When a person who is 100+ pounds overweight goes from eating 4000 calories per day to consuming 1000 calories per day overnight, they will create a 3000-calorie daily deficit, which over a week amounts to a 21,000-calorie deficit or roughly a six-pound (2.7 kg) weight loss. Now add 5-7 hours of physical activity dailyon top of that, and we’re talking an additional 1500-2000 exercise energy expenditure deficit in addition to the caloric deficit, so we’re talking something like 35,000 calories, or 10 pounds (4.5 kg) per week.
In addition to TBL contestants severe deficit and exercise energy expenditure, we could also talk about the levels of cortisol, ghrelin and leptin that become impacted by the stress of limiting calories and performing that level of physical activity seven days per week. Messing with stress and hunger-controlling hormones will make the body physically crave food because, at that point, it is in a state of crisis. That is incredibly unhealthy, unrealistic and unsustainable. That is what you do in an extreme competition or game show or …oh, wait, that’s what The Biggest Loser was.
I’ve heard people in support of Dr Bacon’s work say that The Biggest Loser study confirms everything they’ve said about how they cannot lose weight and that their experiences with restriction caused disordered eating and therefore they are fat, aren’t going to apologize for it or participate in diet culture when it is clearly futile.
I am not arguing that weight loss is challenging – especially when the starting weight is 100 pounds or more above what a healthy (and I’m using the BMI chart very loosely here) for their height should be. Weight loss is a simple concept, but something challenging to put into action and those reasons are more about the emotional component of food and a person’s relationship with it – especially when that emotional component is a symptom of trauma.
Diet culture, in my opinion, is the crash diet/snake oil salesman approach to weight loss. Cleanses, weight loss teas and all of that bullshit which cuts corners or claims to suppress physiological urges to eat are gimmicks and do not offer a sustainable long-term approach to weight management. These things don’t work long-term because a) they are unhealthy and b) they go against every facet of common sense – ‘slow and steady’ – science of sustainable weight loss.
If weight loss is something you are looking to achieve to improve your health and the life you lead, I hope this information has helped to clear up some of the confusing rhetoric that exists. I want to stress that I am not here to tell anybody that they should lose weight or that it is the most important thing a person should focus on, but if it is something you have struggled with, this blog is a good resource for healthy, holistic weight management and lifestyle choices. Remember to subscribe to the blog to see new posts when they go live.
TL/DR: Starvation mode – in the way it is most commonly framed (i.e. following a moderate dietary framework) – isn’t keeping you from losing weight. Weight loss is a balanced science and is both adaptable and delivers results, but those results vary depending on where you start from, how you approach these changes and if you’re ready to make long-term, sustainable lifestyle choices to maintain the loss. It is not easy, but it is also (for the most part) not super complicated. The best place to start is to want to start and the best way to keep going is to always remember why you started.
I have such a strange relationship with blogging these days, but not with writing. I have been writing quite a bit over the past year, but in a more personal way that I am still unsure if or how I will use that work.
As I have mentioned (for like three years now), I don’t know what I am doing with Beets Per Minute. On the one hand, it was my first attempt at blogging, and I met some great people through it and learned a lot about myself in the process. On the other hand, I have also been through some very conflicting things about myself both professionally and personally.
I love health and wellness. I have certifications and professional qualifications in massage, acupressure, personal training, nutritional therapy, fitness nutrition, eating psychology, and cognitive behavioural coaching.
Since making health and wellness a priority in my life after the losing my father in 2011, I have stuck with always making time for fitness . I truly believe that fitness is my higher power.
On the days when I don’t exercise – even just a ten-minute walk around the block – I can tell just how much that impacts my state of mind, how I feel, and the personal choices I make as a result.
It’s been a difficult couple of years for so many people for so many reasons. Sometimes I will be talking about the state of the world – waxing philosophical if you will – and the person I am talking to will say, “Girl, you overthink!”. And they aren’t entirely wrong. I do overthink things. I’ve always felt like an old soul and an emotional sponge for what is happening around me. I found a quote from Lykke Li that summed up this feeling perfectly,
There’s more discomfort being an old soul or a person who questions a lot of things. I’m young, but I’m old.
Anyhoo, I’m definitely overthinking this post, but I also think I am taking baby steps to get myself back into the world of blogging. I hav missed writing.
Now, for those of you who are like, “Shut up and give me my workout, please,” firstly, thank you for saying please and b, here is a workout for you to take to the gym or complete at home if you have a treadmill.
So, here is a total body conditioning boot camp workout combining strength and cardio interval training. I am loving these types of workouts lately and use them in between running and indoor cycle workout days. Let me know if you like it and do me a solid and PIN it if you feel like other people would like it too!
I hope to share more and be back with a post again soon. In the meantime, check out this guest post about the connection between stress and digestion.
“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”
So, maybe you’re taking a break from drinking or decided to give it up for good – whatever the duration or reason there are some lifestyle adjustments that can be made to maximise the break to your mind, body and soul.
Steps for Repairing Health After Eliminating Alcohol
DRINK MORE WATER. Even if you are a religious drinker of water throughout the day, after kicking the sauce, you are going to want to switch to water and make sure that you stay hydrated and flush the body out by consuming a litre or more (6-8 glasses) of H2O each day.
INCORPORATE VITAMINS AND MINERALS DAILY. Alcohol consumption inhibits the body’s ability to fully absorb all of the nutrients it needs, so a great habit would be to incorporate a multivitamin and B Vitamin regimen daily. Many vitamin supplements these days include all the essentials (including B complex), antioxidants and probiotics. An excellent all-in-one to check out is the Complete Multivitamin Complex by Bulk Powders.
EAT A BALANCED DIET. I don’t know about you, but even though I tried my best to eat a healthy diet when I was a drinker, I cannot deny that after a few glasses of wine I would automatically want crisps, pizza or chocolate. Drinking screws with our insulin and hunger regulation and therefore we can feel like we have no control over the food choices we make while on a night out — or through a hangover. Incorporating a diet full of balanced whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, lean meats, whole grains and beans will help to regulate blood sugar, meet nutrient requirements and help to create usable energy the body can access throughout the day.
LIMIT REFINED SUGAR. Many people increase the amount of sugar and sweets they eat after they quit alcohol (as well as after quitting smoking). Sugar can have the same effect on our brains as drinking can as the same response of dopamine release occurs when we consume sugar just as when we drink alcohol – especially when paired with a conditional habitual response pattern. Even if sweets are convenient and help to keep you from ordering a glass of chardonnay, the better choice would be a piece of fruit or a handful of almonds (which are fabulous for liver health, btw).
GET A DEFICIENCY SCREENING. If you’ve been a regular drinker – or what would classify as a heavy drinker, you may have been missing out on the absorption of vital nutrients. A nutritional professional can help screen for any deficiencies that you may have to determine the best course of action for your dietary needs going forward.
REJUVENATE YOUR LIVER. The liver takes a beating throughout our lives as it serves as a filtration system of toxins, metabolises drugs, and makes essential proteins required for many vital bodily functions. After making a lifestyle change, such as eliminating alcohol, it is a good idea to focus on rejuvenating your liver by choosing a balanced, whole foods diet that includes fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and essential vitamins and minerals. So, to get started, here are some foods you can include in your diet today are carrots, sweet potatoes, beets, almonds, and oats.
GET EXERCISE. Regular exercise helps the body by promoting lung, kidney, intestinal, and overall immune system health which all support the body’s efficient natural detoxification processes. Aside from the physical health benefits of a fitness routine, exercise helps to produce endorphins which can help reduce anxiety and depression. If the root cause of your alcohol habit was stress or response to stressful events, finding healthier strategies to cope with these feelings will encourage positive behaviours and better health choices overall. Check out my free eBook for jump-starting fitness as well as my workouts for free guidance on how to get (and stay) fit!
And in case you need a reminder of how you can work on repairing health after alcohol, I have created this handy-dandy infographic. Be sure to pin this graphic and share with friends and family or anybody who may be looking for ways to start repairing their health after eliminating alcohol from their lifestyle.
So, there’s a lot of buzz, hype, and confusion about eating sugar. Is it good? Bad? Am I overeating it? Well, this post comes after much thought and years of research, reading, and also working with people who are looking to change their eating habits. It’s easy to get confused about sugar, and truthfully, trying to get to the bottom of the truth about sugar, is enough to make you stress eat Skittles, am I right? If you want to navigate your way through the (not so sweet) confusion when it comes to sugar and your diet, you need only to read on as a nutritional therapist explains sugar.
By now, it’s almost a broken record to hear about how sugar is the enemy, and it no doubt is public enemy number one in obesity (childhood and adult), heart disease, and diabetes. The truth is, most people don’t know the difference between the various types of sugars in the foods they eat.
A sugar calorie, unrefined
Simple sugars are called monosaccharides and include glucose (also known as dextrose), fructose and galactose.
Monosaccharides are the simplest units of carbohydrates and the simplest form of sugar. They are the building blocks of more complex carbohydrates such as disaccharides and polysaccharides. Some examples of monosaccharides are cane sugar, honey, agave, and molasses.
A disaccharide is a sugar composed of two monosaccharides and is formed when two sugars are joined, and a molecule of water is removed. For example, milk sugar (lactose) is made from glucose and galactose whereas cane sugar is made from glucose and fructose.
Polysaccharides are formed by three or more monosaccharides. An example of a polysaccharide is starch found in corn and potatoes.
To break sugar down even further we can talk about sugar called by many other names (and, yes, some taste just as sweet — some MUCH sweeter).
Glucose is a simple sugar or a monosaccharide because it is one of the smallest units which has the characteristics of this class of carbohydrates. When oxidized in the body, (metabolism), glucose produces carbon dioxide, water, and some nitrogen compounds, and in the process provides energy which can be used by the cells. In the human bloodstream glucose is referred to as “blood sugar.”
Fructose is sugar found in fruit and honey. Used as a sweetener for soft drinks and processed food and is processed solely by the liver. Fructose, particularly in liquid form (outside of whole fruits and vegetable liquid form) is not to be confused with HFCS (High Fructose Corn Syrup).
Sucrose is a basic table sugar, also found in fresh fruit. When sucrose is consumed, the enzyme beta-fructosidase separates sucrose into its individual sugar units of glucose and fructose. Both sugars are then taken up by their specific transport mechanisms. The body will use glucose as its primary energy source and the excess energy from fructose, if not needed, will be poured into fat synthesis, which is stimulated by the insulin released in response to glucose.
Galactose is a monosaccharide commonly occurring in lactose. Also called brain sugar.
High Fructose Corn Syrup, also known as glucose-fructose syrup, is a combination of fructose and glucose made by processing corn syrup. Processing converts a portion of the corn syrup’s glucose into fructose to produce a desired sweetness. The resulting syrup is sweeter and more soluble. HFCS 55 (mostly used in processed foods) is approximately 55% fructose and 42% glucose.
Dextrose is another name for glucose and is often listed on processed foods (such as french fries and processed bread) as “natural sweeteners” and can be found in High Fructose Corn Syrup formulas.
Maltodextrin is a highly processed powdered sweetener derived from starch, resulting in a mixture of Glucose, Maltose, Oligosaccharides, and Polysaccharides. Maltodextrin can be found in many processed foods such as salad dressings and frozen foods.
Maltose is (aka Malt Sugar) starch and malt broke down (mashed) into simple sugars and regularly used in beer, cereals, bread, and baby food.
Stevia,also known as sweet leaf, sugar leaf, are dried and subjected to a water extraction process — 300 times sweeter than sugar with zero calories.
Sucralose (aka Splenda) is an artificial sweetener that is 600 times as sweet as table sugar, twice as sweet as saccharin, and 3.3 times as sweet as aspartame. Sucralose can be found in many low-carb and lower-sugar processed food products.
Sugar Alcohols, also known as polyols, derived from a plant sugar which is extracted by differing means, then reduced and then hydrogenated, then recrystallised. Sugar alcohols are neither sugar nor alcohol. However, they resemble their molecular structure. Sugar alcohols contain about 2.6 calories per gram, and they occur naturally in plant products such as fruits, berries, starches, seaweeds. Sugar alcohols will be listed as Mannitol, Sorbitol, Xylitol, and Maltitol.
Are you dizzy now? That’s not even all the sweet substances out there, but these are the main culprits in most of the foods on the market today — especially processed foods.
Sugar: Not good vs. bad, but better vs. worse.
When talking about the body’s metabolic processes, and the fact that we need glycogen in our body to move, breathe, and function; it can be challenging to think that eating something with sugar isn’t a good choice.
Also, sugar — by its very makeup — IS carbohydrate, which is something we need to produce and store glycogen for all of our essential body functions.
So, if we have to eat carbohydrates — including sugar — how can it be so “bad” for us??
In the description of sugar types posted above, you can see that fructose, a sugar found in honey and fruits, is processed solely by the liver. But wait, the fruit is good for you, right? Yes, the fruit is good for you. Here’s the deal, eating an apple, as opposed to a teaspoon or two of table sugar, (sucrose – which is part fructose) is different. But how? When it comes to sugar calories, they are NOT all created equally.
About those sugar calories
Low carb, no carb, paleo, and IIFYM (just to name a few) are eating plans that discourage the consumption of refined sugar, and some of those plans even prohibit fruit due to its sugar content.
While I agree that when it comes to your overall health, sugar consumption is something to keep in check, however, it’s where you’re getting your sugar calories fromthat is an intricate part of your overall health.
Look, sugar is somewhat unavoidable — it is a naturally occurring ingredient. One way you can break through the sugary confusion is to ask yourself this simple question — to this complicated question: “In addition to the sugar in this item, what other benefits will I receive by choosing to eat this food?” If you can’t list any actual health benefits to consuming that food, it’s probably safe to say that it’s not the best form of sugar to be eating. Let’s take a look at the two examples below.
1. Soda vs. Fresh Juice
I’ve heard this before, “If a glass of fruit juice is just as sugary and has as many calories as a can of soda, than I’m going to have the soda.” While 12 ounces of soda and 12 ounces of juice are close in calories and sugar content, there is a significant difference between the two beverages and how they affect the body.
A can of soda has 140 calories, 39 grams of processed sugar (HFCS), and no fiber, so, therefore, it has ZERO health benefit. Whereas, a glass of fresh fruit and vegetable juice has 177 calories, 32 grams of natural fructose sugar, 2 grams of fiber, 5 grams of protein, vitamins A and C, Iron, calcium, and potassium.
2. Milk chocolate vs. Dark Chocolate
One ounce of milk chocolate has 38 calories, 2 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 4 grams of sugar and no added vitamins, minerals or nutrients. Dark chocolate also has 38 calories, 2 grams of fat, no saturated fat, and 4 grams of sugar, however, dark chocolate also contains antioxidants, potassium, magnesium, iron, and Vitamin B12.
Let’s summarize it all.
Sugar comes in a lot of different forms. Some types of sugar come in the form of “empty calories” or “nutrient sparse” foods such as many processed foods, candy, soft drinks, and concentrated juices. While eating sugar may seem unavoidable, you need to ask yourself which health benefits are closely associated with the sugar containing foods you’re about to eat. If you can’t find a single vitamin, mineral, or nutrient in a sugary product in question– you won’t be missing out by giving IT a miss. Antioxidants in fruits and vegetables are essential to our diet. We need a balance of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and enzymes to fully absorb the nutrition in the foods we eat. While it’s okay to enjoy an occasional chocolate bar, ice cream, and other sweets — they are not the best source of energy for our bodies.
While your tastebuds may struggle to know the difference between table sugar, and, say, sucralose, your body recognises the difference between foods with fibre, protein, complex carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
If you get the best stuff to your plate, your body will do take care of the rest.
Hopefully, this has helped to clear up some of the confusion sugar causes for so many people. If you liked this post, check out some more of my eating psychology posts to learn more about how your relationship with food helps to form dietary choices.