Next Level Triathlon athletes were challenged to eliminate any added sugar for the month of February. I have an above average diet and an above average knowledge of the macronutrients my body needs. But I’m not perfect when it comes to sticking to it. The combination of training, coaching and work often leaves me with very few hours at the end of the day and I often default to a protein bar for dinner. That changed and three major things happened when I stopped eating added sugar.
I lost weight. I cut three pounds without changing caloric intake or training volume. As endurance athletes, we all want to be lean and fit. There’s no denying that it provides a huge benefit when it comes to ripping up a hill or cranking out the last few miles of a run. But it’s often challenging to shave those final few pounds. There’s no short cuts, there’s no magic pills, but I now believe that the simplest way is to eliminate added-sugar. The rule of thumb is that if you can’t pronounce or don’t know what the ingredient is then you probably shouldn’t buy it. It’s that easy.
I recovered better. Typically, I wake up fatigued the day after an intense workout. This gradually changed as I stayed away from added sugar. Instead of eating bars riddled with sugar, I began eating more antioxidant rich foods like blueberries, spinach and kale. I ate more natural sources of protein like nut butters, turkey and chicken, all of which are proven to aid in recovery. I felt less fatigued and didn’t experience any soreness that I would have previously. That alone was enough to keep me on track.
I spent less money. There are very few options when it comes to eating on-the-go which meant that I had to be prepared no matter where I went. I spent a lot of time meal and snack prepping which left no excuse. I didn’t dine out and I wasn’t spending $2 per protein bar. Instead I was making multiple nutrient dense meals for same price. At the end of the month (yes, I kept track) I had spent $50 less than the previous month on groceries and dining.
We’re halfway into March and I intend on continue to avoiding added sugar. The benefits are too significant not to. Regardless of what your goal is, one short month can have a powerful impact.