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If You're an Athlete, It's Time to Bench the Sugary Drinks and Snacks

As an athlete, you know the importance of a healthy diet for sustained energy. The right diet can make the difference between a first-place finish and an average performance. It is tempting to try using sodas and candy as a source for a short burst of energy. However, that short-term boost can have serious effects on your overall health and long-term athletic career.

Sugar Hurts Your Performance

Your body relies on simple sugars as a source of energy. Part of the digestive process is breaking complex compounds into sugars your body can use as fuel for daily tasks and athletic performance. Sugars like those found in candy or soda are easy for the body to process. They create a spike in blood sugar that is followed by a crash. If you consume a sugary soda before a game, you may feel energized for the first period but run out of steam later on. Sugar also makes it difficult for your body to absorb protein. Your best bet is to consume a mix of complex carbs and protein that maintains a constant blood sugar level. If you need a boost, try some fresh, whole fruit. You get a mix of simple sugars plus fiber that slows digestion.

Sugar Can Shorten Your Career

Excess blood sugar has several negative consequences for the body. Sugar exacerbates inflammation in the body, triggering the body's natural response to injury. Prolonged inflammation slows the healing process, keeping you on the sidelines longer. Sugar also depresses your immune system, making you more susceptible to viruses and other infections. A sports career can be relatively brief under the best of circumstances, and injury or illness can abruptly cut that career even shorter. Another concern for athletes is weight gain. High blood sugar encourages the body to store excess energy as fat, leading to extra pounds. That extra weight will keep you sitting on the bench during the height of your career.

How Do You Cut Down?

Simple sugars have addictive properties. Many people experience withdrawal symptoms if they try to cut down too fast. They may have headaches or feel tired or irritable during the process. It is better to reduce your sugar intake slowly. Pay attention to how many sugary products you eat and drink and when you consume them, and start to replace them with reduced portions or healthier options. If you eat a daily dessert, swap it with whole fruit. Instead of soda, drink unsweetened tea or water. Ayurvedic herbs, like sage and ginger, also help many people reduce their blood sugar and curb their sugar cravings. The good news is that as you reduce the amount of sugar you consume, your cravings will start to go away.

In the athletic world, your career depends on your health. The longer you can keep your body in top shape, the longer you have to enjoy the sport you love. While you may have considered sugary snacks as a reward in the past, you have to look at any food you eat as training fuel for your success. By reducing your sugar intake, you are taking an important step that will keep in the game.

If you want some help breaking your sugar habit, try Sweet Zap today!

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