In my crusade to teach good, healthy game to my fellow man, I’ve compared myself to broccoli while likening the flashy pickup gurus to sugar. But this year I’ve had a wake-up call involving real sugar, and for those wondering how you can improve your energy when socializing, this post is for you.
I’ve covered some other methods on improving your energy. But do you want one simple way? Avoid sugar and artificial sweeteners. Like, entirely. On the other hand, avoiding sugar isn’t so simple. Because it’s everywhere, including things we think will give us more energy.
A few months ago, I came across the above presentation by Dr. Robert Lustig of UC-San Francisco. I was already health conscious with my diet, and I had been cutting down on processed foods and taking better supplements. But this was like getting scared straight.
Lustig makes a convincing case on why sugar is more than just bad for us. He outright calls sugar a poison and says any amount of fructose or sucrose is toxic. This, of course, has ramifications far beyond having the energy to talk to the hot blonde at the bar. Use your own judgment, but I suggest you take 90 minutes to check out the video.
I had already looked hard at food labels, but I got even more aggressive about checking them for sugar. Unlike with fat, in the United States we have no daily recommended allowance for sugar, even though fat is less harmful. We’re just told to eat sugar moderately, whatever that means.
I have the metabolism of a jackrabbit and I walk a lot, so I’m fortunate to have about the same weight at 35 years old –147 pounds — as I had in college. For me this was about wellness and energy, not weight.
But there I would be, eating dinner before a night on the town, and I was downing a glass of fruit juice — hey, it was organic! — that had roughly 35 grams of sugar in it. Dinner might have included a can of beans that had 35 grams of sugar in it. That’s before I’d even gotten to desert.
One by one, I removed sugar-laden items from my diet, except for dark chocolate, which I will eat till my dying breath but is at least high in antioxidants.
Carla Heiser, a brilliant woman who runs the Avellino Group, suggested I never eat more than 10 grams of sugar at once, so I have (mostly) followed her advice. I’ve replaced juice with unsweetened iced tea, and that suits me fine. I’ve always been good at having the right energy for socializing at night, but at 35 I can still party later than a lot of 25-year-olds. So I’m doing something right.
Here are some high-sugar drinks and foods you can cut right away to help you get your game on:
- Energy drinks. Don’t believe the hype. Sure, Red Bull will give you wings — until you go down Icarus style after the crash. There are 27 grams of sugar in an 8.-3 ounce can of Red Bull — that’s the small can — and you can add a lot more to the bigger cans like Rockstar’s. Also, the worst hangovers I had came when used to I mix energy drinks with alcohol.
- Fruit juice. This one flies under the radar because we equate fruit with good health. But an 8-oz glass of Minute Maid orange juice has 24 grams of sugar in it.
- Sports drinks. Unless you’re planning to be in the 2012 Olympics, you shouldn’t drink these.
- Soda. Merely eliminating Coke from my diet in college is probably why I’ve never gained weight. One 12-oz can gives you a whopping 39 grams of sugar. And don’t think the diet drinks are any better. They’re packed with aspartame, which is way sweeter than sugar and is linked to depression, headaches and cancer, among other ailments.
- Smoothies (unless you make them). Again, this is one you wouldn’t think about. Jamba Juice is healthy, right? The vitamins sure are nice, but the 73 grams of sugar in a Sixteen Size Banana Berry will crash you like the Hindenburg.
- Clif Bar. It’s like the food version of Red Bull. One bar has about 20 grams of sugar.
- Canned foods. There are some low-sugar versions I’ll eat, but pay attention to the label. Beans especially can be loaded with sugar.
- Condiments and sauces. What do ketchup, spaghetti sauce and barbecue sauce have in common? Yes, they’re red, but they also have sugar.
Just eliminating the above will make a big difference in your sugar intake, and with it your energy. You can save the sweetness for your personality.