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How cutting back on sugar is making me a better runner

Cutting out sugar was hard for the first week or so, but as the experiment wore on, this writer started to notice major energy gains

It has been eight weeks since I started my summer project of cutting back on refined sugars. As I hoped, this change in my diet has impacted my training in several positive ways. The decision to back off the cookies, chocolate bars and other overly processed, sugary foods came after noticing a drop in my energy level both in training, and in day-to-day life.

By no means did I completely cut sugar out of my diet, I simply cut way, way back. I no longer seek out sugary foods, and will go to the extent of using honey in baking, rather than refined sugar. This shift away from sugar, and processed foods wasn’t too difficult to make– and it’s paying off. Below are my primary takeaways from my less-sugar-laden-life experience so far.

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Consistent energy: This is the first positive change I noticed once I cut back on sugar. Within days of laying off the sugar, I felt more energy in my running. I even noticed my usual morning spark come back. I’ve always been an early-morning person who really enjoys waking up for a new day filled with tons of energy and ready to go. My energy returned and it’s been consistent – whereas with a more sugary diet, there were spikes and dips in my energy. This tells me my body does better on a more natural and whole food diet. This explains why a dirty carrot straight out of the garden was more exciting to me as a child than a piece of chocolate cake.

Increased resiliency: Along with increased and consistent energy, I seemed to have also built more resilience to injury. While I was expecting this to be a result of the cutback in sugar it’s a positive impact I’m happy to accept. My body feels more nimble – my muscles, joints and tendons feel more pliable, responsive and adaptable. I suppose this shouldn’t come as a surprise to me being that sugary foods cause inflammation, and the more inflammation the body experience the more likely it is break under the pressures of high-mileage training.

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Bake it, til you make it: One of the keys in bringing more whole, nutritious foods into my diet has been to simply incorporate healthier ingredients into traditionally high-sugary foods. I’m baking with more whole wheat flour, and using honey as a sugar substitute in many recipes. I’ve become particularly fond of trying different peanut butter cookies recipes. It’s amazing how good peanut cookies can taste with no sugar and 100 percent whole wheat flour. Bonus perk of baking myself: I know every single ingredient that I’m consuming. 

Cravings be gone: I thought cutting back on sugar would be tough, but it actually hasn’t turned out to be too difficult. In the first few weeks I found myself eyeing up the chocolate bars in the grocery store line, but now I have very little interest. I think knowing how much better I feel without it makes it easier to make the decision not to eat it.