Back in September the Team 500 Challenge for TriSwimPro was to remove all sugar and processed carbohydrates from your diet. The funny thing is that after all the stress and pain I have put my body through in training and races, this challenge just seemed like something I couldn’t to do. You see, I have a little problem with sugar. I recently made a conscious effort to reduce the amount of sugar I was eating, but I was still eating a lot more than the average person and with the extra gels, protein shakes, pre workout drinks and snacks after training, I would hate to know the actual amount that I was consuming.
Fast forward three months and I’m training a little less due to injury and after a long discussion with some friends(This wasn’t an intervention), I decided it was time to cut out sugar. Due to my history with sugar, I needed to set some strict rules with no grey areas. This meant that as well as cutting sugar completely, I also decided to say no to bread, pasta, rice, fruit or any root vegetables. I know this sounds extreme, but I think it was going to be the only way for it to work for me.
I have almost gone through a full month and there is a long way still for me to go, but so far here is what I have learnt.
Sugar and processed carbs are literally everywhere.
Until you start looking for it, you probably don’t know that you are surrounded by sugar and processed carbs. Unless people are on a similar mindset to you, it will generally be the norm, and with Christmas coming very soon, I have been reminded of all the things I will be missing out on over the holiday period.
Your thoughts will become clearer.
I have never had trouble focusing or concentrating on one thing at a time, but now, instead of ten different things going on in my head all at once, there is only one or two. My thoughts are also clearer and I am generally calmer, and it almost feels like the world has slowed down.
Nuts are addictive.
Nuts are a great snack when you are trying to cut out sugar or processed carbs, but once I have a small handful, I need to eat more. There is no point in doing something like this if you are going to eat half a bag of mixed nuts twice a day.
There is hidden sugar in everything.
I know I am still learning, so I am reading a lot of labels. Sugar is a main ingredient of so many foods. Even when something says “100 Whey Protein”, read the ingredients.
Breaking the routine is the hardest thing.
The first time I ate out, I ordered a coke with my lunch out of habit. Even though I made sure my meal adhered to my sugar free guidelines, I completely forgot about what I was drinking. Fortunately, I was able to stop myself when my drink was delivered to my table.
There is no looking back.
For me, there is no going back to my old ways. I have cravings occasionally, but it is like I am a reformed addict and it almost makes me a little nauseous to even think about eating the type of food that I used to eat. If I eat something that I shouldn’t, even by accident, I get the sugar shakes, so I know there is no way I can go back.
Make sure you are getting tested.
Even though I am sure I am making a good choice with my diet, it is a major change and you need to make sure you are getting yourself tested, even if it is only a cholesterol and blood check.
Tri Swim Coach Ambassador
Vince works as an IT Engineer in Melbourne, Australia where he lives with his cat Tim Tam. He has been a runner for longer than he can remember. He competes in distance running races, open water swims and long course triathlons.