In last week’s post, we gave you a series of simple tips to get you started on the path to a high-performance diet. A high-performance diet is the equivalent of a low-inflammation diet. Perhaps the best way to illustrate the role of inflammation in regards to your physical and mental performance is by taking a deeper look into the first tip—which in most cases is probably the most important tip:
Specifically, this is a reference to the sugar used in the processing of foods. Yes—we’re talking about the obvious, like soda, but were also talking about the sugar that is found in roughly 80% of the products that you’ll find in an average grocery store. The average American (according to USDA estimates) chows down in the realm of 150-plus pounds of refined sugar each year, or 32 teaspoons of added sugar per person per day.
A new Australian documentary zooms in on how much sugar is embedded within foods that are often marketed to be healthy. The director, Damon Gameau, spends 30 days consuming a diet rich with foods like low-fat yogurt, fruit juice and cereal—a daily intake adding up to 40 teaspoons a day of added sugar. None of this sugar is coming from the obvious suspects like cola or candy.
Gameau told the New York Times, “On the diet with all the added sugars, I was snacking a lot more. I just never felt full, and it was affecting my moods. What I learned was that I was triggering insulin and all sorts of hormones that were trapping fat in my body.” By the 18th day, Gameau’s tests showed signs of a fatty liver.
What Gameau experiences is a the result of a high-inflammation diet. The stream of sugar continually taps the body’s storage hormone—insulin—to regulate blood sugar levels. Eventually, the body becomes insulin resistant, a precursor to type 2 diabetes, and a wicked cycle is set into motion where blood sugar levels creep higher, and with it, a state of chronic cellular inflammation.
For those conducting a rigorous training program, insulin resistance and chronic inflammation disrupt and prevent complete recovery from workouts. Your muscles are sore longer and your joints remain inflamed. You are NOT thoroughly digesting all of the hard work you’re putting out.
Chronic cellular inflammation has all sorts of side effects that rob you of the performance you crave. It robs you of quality sleep and weakens the immune system. Meaning your tired all of the time and more prone to colds and flu bugs.
And despite exercise, a high-sugar diet, because of the inflammation, can lead you to fat gain. If you’re ever seen a fat indoor cycling instructor or chubby marathoner, it’s a good bet that a high-carbohydrate diet is paradoxically undoing all of the exercise.
So what do you get by rooting out all of the hidden sugars that are laden in 80% of the so-called “foods” that are on the shelves of the grocery store? By simply sticking to the “Perimeter-of-the-grocery-store diet”—a low-inflammation diet meaning mostly fresh meats, fowl, fish, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and low-carb fruits like berries—and weening yourself off of hidden sugar, you can expect to see the following positives in your training:
- Enhanced muscle recovery after training sessions
- Improved capacity to burn fat as fuel
- Improved LDL/HDL triglyceride profiles
- Improved blood sugar regulation, and with consistently high energy
- Improved cognitive function
- Better sleep—which equals a powerful release of natural growth
- hormones and testosterone
- Better moods
So by simply doing a thorough examination of your diet and ridding it of hidden sugar, you will not only get more out of a hard training program, but you’ll even be able to work harder. Which is what SEALFIT is all about.
Next week, we’ll take an in-depth look at digestion and gut health and what that means to securing the best performance you can in your life and in your training.