So you're addicted to sugar. It's okay, I'm a recovering sugar addict myself who experiences frequent relapses. If you want to know the first secret antidote to your sugar addiction click here.
If you've been keeping up with this blog, you've no doubt seen me rail against the evils of sugar and spell out in biochemical terms how it's slowly killing you. In order to understand how exercise helps you cure the addiction, it helps to understand the evils of sugar. For a quick recap:
- Sugar promotes insulin resistance which leads to metabolic disorder which leads to a lot of bad health problems like diabetes
- Sugar converts to fat if not used, specifically visceral fat which is terrible for your liver
- Sugar is addictive
- Sugar messes with the signal that tells your brain that your stomach is full
While exercise accounts for the minority of people's calorie burn (about 5% for the couch potato and 35% for the gym rat), there are many other health benefits to exercise that should motivate you to committing to that 30 minutes of recommended activity every day. Here are 3 that stand out:
1) Exercise Builds Muscle at the Expense of Visceral Fat
Building muscle creates new mitochondria, which is the part of the cell that burns energy. More muscle means more mitochondria which means more calorie burning, even at rest. Also new mitochondria is better than old mitochondria because it's more efficient and creates fewer free radicals. It also increases your insulin sensitivity, which is good for keeping the hormones that tell your brain that you're full or hungry in check (instead of blocking those hormones and making you think you're hungry all the time like sugar does).
2) Exercise is an Internal Stress Reducer
Exercise reduces cortisol (the stress hormone) and increases endorphins (the feel good hormone). Sugar messes with the reward pathways in your brain, making it addictive in the same way cocaine or alcohol can be addictive. Consistent exercise has been shown to correct this.
3) Increase the Speed of Your Liver's Krebs Cycle
Without getting too "biology" on you, suffice it to say speeding up the Krebs Cycle helps rid it of the liver fat that accumulates as a result of eating too much sugar. This is good news not only for your appearance but also for your general health and well-being.
While exercise alone probably won't lead to dramatic weight loss (more on this later), it can certainly mitigate and reverse the damaging effects sugar has on your health. It doesn't matter what kind of exercise you do, be it normal cardio or the new en vogue high intensity interval training (HIIT). Just make sure you do it consistently (5x a week) and you will be a step ahead pf your sugar addiction.
Dr. Robert Lustig. Fat Chance. 2012.
MJ Gibala et al., "Physiological Adaptations to Low-Volume, High Intensity Interval Training in Health and Disease," J. Physiol. 590, (2012).
D. Stensvold et. al., "Strength Training versus Aerobic Interval Training to Modify Risk Factors of Metabolism Syndrome" J. Aypl. Physiol. 108 (2010).