If you have ventured into your local grocery store in the last couple weeks, you have definitely seen the isles lined with candy hearts, chocolate goodies and the pink iced cookies for Valentines Day. All I can think is how are we supposed to keep our New Years resolutions with all this temptation around?! Good news is we've got some epic alternatives for you right here so you can still so spoil your loved one and yourself the healthy way.
You may be thinking, consuming sugary treats wont hurt. However, many reputable studies have shown that excess sugar negatively impacts our overall health in a variety of ways, ranging from chronic disease, weight gain, organ damage, anxiety & depression - to name just a few!
Let's get one point out of the way: added sweeteners and fruit have different metabolic effects, and as you could have guessed, different nutritional values. While a person should generally avoid a diet which is oriented around fruit consumption, eating those mangoes and grapes will ultimately serve your body better than a bag of candy that is lacking in essential vitamins.
There are many ways that sugar can affect your fitness. Consumption of sugar can have negative effects on energy, muscles and joints and inflammation. Let's take a look at each individually.
Candy and soft drinks are both examples of simple sugars and could be the reason why you're experiencing energy crashes. The body can burn this kind of sugar faster, so you’ll get an initial energy boost followed by a drop-off as soon as the supply runs dry. The effects of sugar usually only last about 30 minutes to an hour, which isn’t enough to get you through the day.
Also, you'll wake up more frequently throughout the night if your diet consists of too much sugar. You may not wake up completely, but sugar in your system can prevent the brain and body from entering deep sleep, making you feel sluggish in the morning.
To avoid energy dips, you want to focus on keeping your blood sugar level steady. Do that and you’ll keep your energy level even throughout the day, helping you stick to a normal sleep schedule.
MUSCLES & JOINTS
When we consume sugary foods, the body breaks down those cells which enter the bloodstream and your pancreas produces insulin as a response to rising blood sugar levels. Insulin functions as a hormone that triggers cells to absorb blood sugar for energy or storage, so that "energy crash" you experience after eating sweets also applies to your muscles! Also, as insulin directs sugar to your muscles, it draws attention away from biological mechanisms which allow you to effectively burn fat during your workouts.
Eating lots of sweets has been shown to exacerbate joint pain because of the body's inflammation response to these foods. Studies conducted about this kind of inflammation have found that sugar consumption can also increase a person's risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.
The purpose of inflammation is to help the body heal and protect against further damage. However, chronic inflammation is harmful and involved in the development of many lifestyle diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes.
Consuming too many foods with added sugar and refined carbohydrates may lead to long-term internal inflammation that doesn’t serve any useful function in the body and can actually be harmful to your health. Also, a diet which contains excess added/refined sugar can often cause weight gain. Excess body fat, especially in the abdominal area, causes continuous, chronic levels of inflammation that can alter the action of insulin.
Excess sugar can negatively impact your health because the products which contain it take the place of other, healthier foods. Eating sweets displaces food with beneficial properties for your body, and as a result, overall nutrition may suffer.
Some of you will indulge this weekend and that's totally fine! There is nothing wrong with that. Everything is okay in moderation. You must remember to not over do it and don't let the cookies and candy totally derail you from your nutrition plan.
Now, for those of you who are looking to indulge but only on some healthy sweet treats, I have got three amazing recipes for you that will be a total hit. Take a peek below!
1. BANANA CARAMEL MUG MUFFIN
- 2 scoops Protein Baked Goods Mix
- 2 scoops Banana Caramel Healthy Meal
- 1/3 cup + 1 tbsp Water
- 2 tbsp Sugar Free Caramel Syrup
- Mix all ingredients together in bowl
- Pour into coffee mug
- Microwave on high for 3 minutes; let stand for 2 before consuming
Batter will be thick and sticky, but you may need to add more water if its not mixing together
Spray inside of mug so muffin doesn't stick
Feel free to add in some chocolate chips and top with sliced bananas!
Check out these mug muffins and follow along with me here!
2. PROTEIN CHURRO DONUTS
- ½ cup Almond Flour
- ¼ cup Vanilla Protein
- ⅓ cup Dulce de Leche Healthy Meal
- ¼ tsp Baking Soda
- ½ tsp Baking Powder
- 1 ½ tbsp Monk Fruit Sweetener
- Dash of Cinnamon
- ¼ - ½ cup Almond Milk
- 2 Eggs
- Sugar Free Caramel Sauce
- Monk Fruit Sweetener
- Mix all dry donut dry ingredients together
- Add in wet ingredients
- Mix together and bake at 350 for 10 minutes
- Once out of the oven, let cool
- Mix water and sugar free caramel syrup in a bowl. (More water than caramel)
- Brush onto donut or dip donut into mixture
- Let sit for 1 minute
- Dip into monk fruit and cinnamon mixture
- Drizzle sugar free caramel syrup on top
- Top with cinnamon
Make sure there are no chunks of protein powder when mixing dry ingredients.
Use the whole egg when adding in wet ingredients. Egg whites can also be substituted here.
If after 10 minutes donuts need a little more time to bake, only put them back in for a few minutes.
Recipe makes 1/2 a dozen donuts.
3. CHOCOLATE PROTEIN FONDUE
- 1 5.3 oz container plain cultured coconut milk
- 1 scoop of Chocolate Protein
- 1 tbsp raw cacao powder
- 1/2 - 1 tbsp coconut flour (to thicken*)
- 1 1/2 tbsp sugar free syrup
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch if pink sea salt
- In a small bowl, mix all ingredients together with a spoon.
- Serve with your favorite fresh fruits & enjoy!
Depending on your preferred consistency, start with 1/2 tbsp of coconut flour to thicken, then only add the other half if needed
Using other kinds of flour may alter taste
Adjust sweetness to your liking, but stick with liquid sweeteners to avoid grainy texture
Refrigerate leftovers up to 2 days and keep on enjoying!
Wishing you Happy Valentines Day filled with so much love, joy and happiness no matter if you are in a relationship or not. The most important person in you life is you!