Sugar is Affecting Your Diet for Muay Thai!
Nobody likes to diet. Dieting can be one of the most difficult things to adhere to for people, not just athletes. It’s also a highly debated topic within the Muay Thai world; typically most Muay Thai fighters from Thailand aren’t monitoring what they eat to the level that professional athletes around the world are doing. It’s just never a huge deal for Thai fighters to avoid things like too many carbs, to stay away from processed food, and to cut down on sugar intake. You’ll see Nak Muay drinking a couple of liters of coca-cola because of the energy created from the huge amounts of sugar. Generally, the consensus amongst Thais is that as long as you’re not a glutton, and you’re not drinking too much booze (keywords: too much) you’ll be able to perform in the ring and keep that weight off. While this blog typically discusses the topic of nutrition in Muay Thai, this article will go into detail about why sugar is secretly hindering your weight loss and lowering your energy levels during training.
What Sugar Does To Your Body
Let’s get it straight right now. Sugar, also known as glucose is an essential nutrient needed to fuel our body. Glucose is naturally created by our body from the carbohydrates that we consume. Insulin is a hormone also found in our body that helps us regulate our blood sugar levels. It’s created within the pancreas, and (if) it’s too high, we can suffer from hyperglycemia, and if it’s too low we can suffer from hypoglycemia. Sugar that we consume is digested and diluted in our stomach, and is converted into two types of molecules; glucose and fructose. Most added sugar from sugar cane or natural foods is converted into glucose. Corn syrup that’s been synthetically produced contains more fructose, and if a large amount is consumed over a long period of time, it wreaks havoc on our bodies.
Sugar is Toxic if You Eat a Ton of It, and It Will Make You Fat. Period.
The sugar converted from complex carbohydrates are necessary for us to perform during Muay Thai training and during a Muay Thai fight. However, added sugars found in a lot of the food and drinks that we consume on a daily basis is unnecessary and extremely harmful to our body. While training, we expend a ton of energy, and all of this energy can be created by consuming a healthy amount of carbohydrates.
If you can’t go without sugar, don't exceed the American Heart Association's recommended sugar levels, which are 5 teaspoons for women (20 grams); 9 teaspoons for men (36 grams); and 3 teaspoons (12 grams) for children. For reference, a can of soda generally contains up to 12 grams of sugar; a single slice of whole wheat bread contains up to 2 teaspoons of added sugars.
Because of sugar’s unique effect on the brain and our hormone production, over time it promotes fat to be stored in our body much easier than normal. Sugar can trick our bodies into thinking that we’re hungry when we’re really not, which makes it harder to stick to a diet. Over time, the calories we get from sugar aren’t as fulfilling, and our body resorts to asking for more calories to be sated. Not good if you’re trying to cut weight!
In the brain, dopamine functions as a neurotransmitter—a chemical released by neurons (nerve cells) to send signals to other nerve cells. The brain includes several distinct dopamine pathways, one of which plays a major role in reward-motivated behavior. It’s blamed for addictive behavior and abuse of all sorts of substances, including sugar. However, a good day of training and exercise also releases dopamine into our body. This dopamine triggers our body to also release serotonin, which is that feel good feeling that we have after doing something. Sugar causes a massive amount of dopamine to be released into our systems, which means that over time, we become addicted to sugar and its effects. As a Nak Muay, this can be hindering your success because you will naturally crave sugar during and after your training.
The bottom line is that sugar and added sugars in our food are unnecessary for Muay Thai training and it’s absolutely imperative to stop consuming too much of it. If done properly, a well-balanced diet that contains a healthy amount of carbohydrates (see our article on What to Eat While Training Muay Thai) gives us enough sugar for our body to release chemicals properly and to give us the fuel needed to power our bodies. Lowering your sugar intake will help you achieve your weight loss results, and actually balance your hormones, allowing you to perform better during training.
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