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My Diet Flunks… Sugar In The Diet.


July 2013

I’ve been breaking in a new doctor and with the new doctor and a few other revelations, my blood work had to be redone.  Well it came back the other day and it appears as though my cholesterol has been creeping up over the last ten years or so.  I’m still within acceptable, healthy range but when last I checked my cholesterol was lower than 150 (high on the good end and low on the bad).  So with the little jump – which may be an anomaly, the blood was taken without having fasted as is usually recommended because the doctor’s office failed to inform me that I needed to – will come an active change in my diet whether or not the new test (which will be taken in December) requires it.

My diet, as has been explained previously, requires a little finesse.  I am not able to consume enough “good” food to replace the calories that I burn through cycling.  Whether we say that my stomach isn’t big enough or I don’t eat often enough makes no difference to me.  The simple fact is that if I rely on fruits and veggies for snacks and three squares a day, I’ll waste away to 130 pounds – I’ve started down that path too many times in the last couple of years.  So the first thing I explained to the doctor was that fast food, while most find it obnoxious, wasn’t going anywhere and much to my surprise, he was very okay with that (on a limited basis of course).  On the other hand, he took a scalpel to my penchant for sweets and the occasional cola.

The explanation was this:  Candy and soda cause a spike in blood sugar.  To level that out, the body produces insulin and the liver produces cholesterol – the new thinking is that this is why Europeans can eat a high fat diet yet walk around with cholesterol levels in the low 100’s while in the US, where we’re cutting fat, but pounding sugar like it’s sexy, we’re walking around in the 300’s.  I’m not a doctor so I really will just leave figuring that out to them (the truth is that even the best thinking today will change in a year or two, or at least that’s been so since they decided the earth wasn’t really flat after all).  The unvarnished truth is that the notion makes logical sense so that’s why I’m taking the advice.

There’s another interesting twist to this though:  I drink Gatorade after I ride to replace electrolytes.  Gatorade does have sugar in it so I asked if it would be okay to stay with it – I’ve tried going without and it just doesn’t work for me.  I can’t get my proper balance without it (my sweat even stops tasting salty after a couple of weeks).  My doc said that I should be okay with the Gatorade but cut the rest of the junk, but that still got me to thinking, “something’s fishy”…  So I went home and checked on the sugar per 12 oz serving of Gatorade:  7 grams.  Then I checked the last bottle of root beer that I’ll have in the house for quite some time:  43 grams of sugar. Now I understand why the Gatorade is okay but the soda’s gotta go.  Six times the sugar!

Now I’ve got four and a half months to put this one to the test and see where I shake out…  I’ll be sure to write about it – I’m going in to give blood on the second anniversary of my blog.


  1. Paige says:

    What about replacing the Gatorade with Nuun?

    • bgddyjim says:

      My mom was a nun. No thanks. (Really she was about a month from her vows – she decided it wasn’t for her so she left and became a nurse instead).

      All kidding aside, I’m not spending a buck for 16 ounces. I buy the Gatorade powder mixes so I’m well below that cost… And at 7 grams of sugar per serving, I can live with that.

  2. elisariva says:

    I like your doc! Why people think fat is bad is beyond me. Sugar is the culprit.

    Electrolyte suggestion – I use Nuun – more sodium and potassium than Gatorade and no sugar. Also – they have fun flavors. My favorite is lemon tea. I also blend – tri berry and lemon tea make a good raspberry tea taste. And for your cola fix – yep they have a cola flavor.

  3. Mike says:

    Interesting stuff, man. I’m happy to read about your doctor’s fast food response because I can’t seem to cut it out either. I continue to cave on cravings, but they are slowly leaving on their own… Fast food almost feels necessary on some level to me. On the sugar stuff, I’m a little screwed as well. I’ve found that drinking orange juice cut in half with water is a good alternative to soda and when I add a bit of sea salt, it’s seems like a good version of home made gatorade… I’ve used it on short rides and it seems to work pretty well for me.

    • bgddyjim says:

      Nice idea with the OJ… I don’t drink pop that often, in fact only when I eat out and once in a blue moon when we get pizza, but I’m cutting it all now – with one exception: I will, now and forever, have one Coke at some point during or immediately after every long ride I go on. It tastes like heaven in the middle of a century, I’m here to tell you. As far as the fast food goes, I don’t do guilt about that. 😉

  4. briapittman says:

    Great post! It is hard finding the balance. I am training for a half marathon in TN heat. Which means I sweat buckets (gross I know). I cut salt from my diet because too much of it usually triggers my migraines. But I’m finding that as a runner I can’t cut salt out of my diet it just makes me feel blah…sugar on the other hand I probably need to cut down on. Will you be doing another post in a couple of weeks to see what difference less sugar makes? Thanks, Bria

    • bgddyjim says:

      Sure, I can do that. I cut it out before but never really had that much of a problem. As long as I keep some popcorn in the house I should be good. 😉

  5. IowaTriBob says:

    I’m not a soda drinker and never have been much of one because of the caffeine more than anything. However (not that any of us can compare) it was really interesting to watch how many of the riders it the tour drank cans of coke along the way. It seemed like every other rider they showed was pitching a coke can after a few big swigs. Its made me want to try one on my next long ride.

    • bgddyjim says:

      Give it a try, it is SO good. They were drinking half-cans this year, a change from years past. Generally speaking I am surprised by the can… Bottles are easier to drink from while riding but cans can be opened one handed so I imagine it’s a toss-up. ;D

  6. Laura says:

    You may want to try Skratch. They use real fruit to flavor the mix. I really like them … I also use Propel Zero for hydration. Good luck!!

  7. kruzmeister says:

    Good luck with it all Jim, I’ll be interested to hear your experiences and progress of cutting back the sugar!

  8. I swear by NUUN but I agree, it is expensive. I have to use it as I cannot find anything else that works for me. I am trying to find a source where I can get it cheaper as I go through a lot.

  9. I have to be pretty creative with my diet when I am on track with running. I can’t seem to get enough calories and have to be really conscious about getting enough protein. I am not complaining in the least, but it does take a little being creative to eat healthy, exercise and be healthy! 😉

    Have you tried coconut water instead of Gatorade? Its a-may-zing, I noticed the difference straight away!

  10. […] wrote a while back that I’d be foregoing the sweets after a blood test showed that my cholesterol was […]

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