Friday, January 13, 2006

Healthy and Energized Quiz--Answers!

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First off, I wanted to take a moment to thank the fine folks at Beachbody. Not only are they a sponsor of this blog, but they granted us permission to use one of their "Walk Away Pounds" DVDs at this activity. Check them out--they've got lots of great programs.

On to the answers!

T - F Your body gets energy from the protein you eat.

True! Your body's a machine, and like any other machine, it needs fuel for energy.

Your body gets energy from the protein, carbohydrates, and fat that you eat. The stuff your body doesn't get energy from is called fiber. Having a little fiber in your meal means your body has to work around it to get to the good stuff. That's good--because it means the energy you get from what you eat will last longer.

How much energy does your body get from these? Well, when we talk about calories in food, we're actually talking about kilogram calories, the energy it takes to increase the temperature of 1 kilogram of water by 1 degree C.

For every gram of carbs, there are 4 of this type of calories. Ditto for protein--4 calories in a gram. Fat's got more than double that--9 calories in one gram.

Now, the other nice thing is that your body processes each of these at a different speed. Carbs, for example, are the easiest for your body to convert into energy. Proteins can take a while. So if you eat a meal balanced with carbs, fats, and proteins, you'll create a "time release" of energy, as each of them gets processed at their different rates and your body starts using them.

T - F Sugar drains your energy.

True! And False! Mark yourself right whatever you put.

Here's the deal with sugar--sugar gives you energy. It's a carb, so it gives you 4 calories of energy per gram.

However, it's a carb that your body can process super fast, since it's already so close to being in the state your body uses it to carry it through your bloodstream. So it gets into your bloodstream quick, and your blood becomes full of sugars. If you eat or drink a whole lot of sugar, then it's going to be a whole lot of sugar in your blood.

This is like all-you-can-eat night at the Sizzler for your cells, and you'll probably see a big spike in energy. Your cells are getting more energy than they probably need, and they're trying to find something to do with it.

Your body, worried that more sugar may be coming and figuring it's a good idea to get things back to normal anyway, decides to get some of that sugar out of there. It sends a message out to all the cells--"Stop using that sugar, and start turning it into fat for storage!" Of course, it speaks by way of chemicals instead of English of course, and the chemical that means "Store the Sugar!" is insulin.

At least, that's what insulin says to the cells. Insulin says something different to the brain--it says, "Hey, let's calm down up there, big guy."

So if you've had a moderate amount of sugar, the body will release a moderate amount of insulin, and you'll probably feel pretty okay.

But the more sugar you've had, the more insulin will be unleashed, and the more insulin is unleashed, the stronger your brain's going to pull back on those reins. In other words, the bigger the energy dip will be.

So sugar gives you energy, but too much can cause you lose energy.

T - F Fruit juices are a delicious, healthy energy source.

False! Four words: High Fructose Corn Syrup.

Remember how I said sugar is so fast processing? Well, of the main types of sugar, Fructose is the fastest processing of them all. Fructose gets into your blood stream faster than shoppers into a department store after Thanksgiving. Which means it's one of the easiest ways to spike your insulin levels.

Of course, there is a way to do it faster--if you carbonate the sugar water, the carbonation accelerates the rate your body absorbs nutrients. Which of course would give you soda.

But I hear your thoughts, even through the computer. "I only drink diet soda!"

Okay, here's the deal with diet soda:

First, most of them have sodium--salt, which dehydrates you and only makes you need more water.

Second, they're still carbonated, which means that they're acting like an anti-fiber, speeding up the pace your body absorbs the other things you're eating (like those fatty fries).

Third, they usually contain phosphates, which coat your fat cells. Your body ends up having to burn them off before it can start burning the fat. In other words, rather than protecting your fat, you're building up a protective layer around them. (Believe it or not, there are actually products sold to drug users to help them pass drug tests. By sealing up all the bad cells with the chemicals in them days before hand, they try to increase their chances of passing the test.)

So don't bother with the diet soda. It's still working against you.

If you want the nutrients of fruit, check your labels carefully. Look for "fructose," and look to see whether or not there are any vitamins in the juice.

Ultimately, if you want the benefits of fruit, eat fruit. You get all the vitamins, all the minerals, plus all that helpful fiber.

More answers to come!

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