Let’s take time to rest and recover those aching joints, or if you’ve missed a class this week it’s time to make it up today!
TOPIC of DISCUSSION
What happens to your body when.. you carb binge?
Here’s a great article from ‘Mark’s Daily Apple” about what happens to your body when you binge on carbs. A great read, especially for those who decided NOT to do the 30 day challenge, maybe after this you’ll join us for the next one 🙂
Another day, another co-worker’s birthday (and the obligatory cake in the break room).
You’re into the Primal style of eating, so it’s easy to resist this stuff, right? You ignored the dirty looks when you turned down the second rotation of the jam filled and glazed Krispy Kreme donuts at the team meeting. You don’t mind gnawing on the few anemic carrot sticks left at the annual holiday party. Dessert just isn’t part of your vocabulary.
But would it hurt to indulge this once? It’s Christmas!? Well almost, it’s only 2 more weeks away! and the cake is dark chocolate, and it’s the end of the work day. Seriously, it’s not like you’ll suddenly burst into flame and melt in a fiery, torturous death, leaving nothing but a smoldering spot on the carpet. You’re disciplined. You can more than make up for this later. The worst that can happen is a sugar rush. Oh what the heck, gimme a slice. Yeah, sure, a little ice cream too.
So, what will happen? To your body, we mean. Once the plastic fork (with its spongy contents) hits your mouth. What goes on in there anyway?
First off, the good news. There is no permanent fate awaiting you for one slice of cake. You’ll leave work alive, generally a functional human being. They’ll be no curse or pox on your house or even truly long-term risk elevation for that matter. Nonetheless, you’ll likely regret your decision.
However, within a matter of 10 quick forkfuls of that delicious dark chocolate brownie cake, you have gone from eating small doses of quality carbs wisely spread throughout the day, to possibly 100 or more grams of pure sugar in one sitting! Some guilt should be setting in right about now… But that’s not all that’s happening.
The Domino Effect
Within a few minutes, your pancreas kicks into overdrive and sends out a flood of insulin to try to clean up all the excess glucose that’s suddenly rushing through your bloodstream. Remember, while glucose is muscle fuel when it’s in the muscles, it’s toxic sludge when it stays in your bloodstream. Your body knows that and does everything it can to get it out of there. Perhaps you’ve got a headache, you’re feeling flushed, a little high, spastic, or nauseous depending on how much you ate, how big you are, what your normal carb load is, and how acutely you tend to “feel” the effects of sugar and other substances. Ironically, if you were insulin resistant, you might not even notice these sensations! The age old “I feel so much better when I have sugar, in my diet” If you’re feeling lethargic after 2 weeks of removing sugar and simple carbs from your diet, it is likely you are already insulin resistant!
A gush of insulin throws your body out of balance and creates a see-saw effect. If your glycogen stores have room, some of the sugar goes into muscles. If there’s no more room, the excess goes into fat cells, where it is stored as fat. In reaction to this quasi-emergency that looks like another life-threatening stress, the body steps up its efforts to achieve homeostasis by releasing both epinephrine (adrenaline) and cortisol from your adrenals. Your heart is racing, your body temperature is increasing, maybe even to the point where you’re starting to feel uncomfortable, maybe even sweating. And we’re still likely within the first hour after you finished off that cake!
A bit more time passes. Burnout settling in yet? That’s called a sugar crash – Ever come back from lunch and within an hour or 2 later you feel like you need a nap? This is when all the glucose is gone from the bloodstream and you start to feel sluggish, off-kilter, like the internal circuits are all fried after sparking in a heap of now smoldering wires. Hmm. Maybe that spontaneous combustion image wasn’t so far after all.
But there’s more…. The havoc that sugar rush set off – the swing of glucose and insulin, the cortisol and adrenaline – they’ve sent your immune system into a tailspin. Research has shown that the function of immunity-related phagocytes is impaired for at least five hours after intake of simple sugars. Free radicals have their heyday as well within the first few hours after sugar increases oxidative stress on the body. Your blood even thickens as a response to the stressors.
Wait, you aren’t out of the woods yet. You get home and try to sleep it off, but you toss and turn as your heart continues to beat faster than normal. Hmm. Little surprise there. The old hormonal system is confounding in its interconnectedness. You lay there cursing not just that cake but the entire cultural custom of birthday celebration. As the sun comes up and you roll out of bed, you think you should be done with this sugar business by now. Maybe. Maybe not. Unfortunately, a hefty dose of sugar can compromise the immune system for more than 24 hours. Groan. The images flash before you. The flu your colleague had earlier this week. The miserable cold (that incessant cough!) your boss has. Passing plans or reports around the meeting room. Shaking hands with the new clients who came by yesterday. Suddenly you’re seeing your week in a new (and dimmer) light. Your immune system might have handled it all quite easily before the sugar incidence/insult. That’s one birthday cake that keeps on giving!
As bad as this sounds, it could be worse. If you follow a clean living, following the 80/20 guide, making good choices Monday – Friday and then having the odd treat at the weekend, you’re generally a healthy person. You’ll still experience the downside effects when you have your cheats, and you may feel them more acutely than you did before. (This isn’t a bad thing.) It actually makes you realise the stress your body is under to get rid of the ‘crap’. Nonetheless, after the dust settles, the worst thing you can end up with is maybe a cold you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. Your system will realign itself pretty readily. Within a couple of PB style days you’ll be as good as new.
But if this is a normal day? Sigh. This presents a much bleaker picture. That see-saw of insulin and glucose? The process breaks down in your body until you develop insulin resistance. That rush of adrenaline and cortisol? That hormonal havoc over time fries your adrenal system. Your body is constantly in a state of “fight,” and inflammation becomes a constant state of affairs. Enough sugar over enough time (with the lack of exercise to boot), and you’ve gotten yourself into quite a pickle. (Maybe a pickle would’ve been a better snack choice.)
2 Week Challenge!
For the first week eat as normal and keep a food diary of what you eat, and how you feel before and afterwards. For the 2nd week cut out bread, rice, pasta, pastry, grains, sugar and alcohol from Monday-Friday and then allow yourself 1 cheat on Saturday and 1 cheat on Sunday, continue to record you food diary and how you are feeling!