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Jun 15

“Healthy Desserts” are still Desserts

Dessert are something that many of us really enjoy.  It could be something sweet, savory, or alcoholic.  We all know that dessert is not the best option when looking to lose weight and develop lean muscle due to excessive consumption of unneeded calories from carbohydrates in the form of sugar and unnecessary fat.  Indulging in an extra meal at the end of the day to “satisfy your sweet tooth” will slow down your progress when looking to lose weight.  The most vulnerable time to do this is after dinner and before bed, which is the most sedentary time of the day when are not utilizing many calories as a fuel source other than the function of breathing and maintaining the function of the organs of your body.  When consuming these excess calories at “dessert time,” your body will take these extra calories and put them right into fat storage.  That’s right… your muffin top, love handles and/or spare tire.

An issue that is increasingly prevalent when working with our clients as Personal Trainers and Life Time Fitness Coaches here in Napa is when we hear a story about one of our participants consuming something like fruit instead of cheese cake or ice cream.  In addition, Napa offers some of the most enticing alcoholic beverages available anywhere in the world… wine!  It is a very common occurrence that we hear about our clients drinking a glass of wine at the end of the night instead of dessert as a justification that this will be better than eating some ice cream or a cookie.  Well, here’s the truth:

When you treat something like dessert, it’s still a dessert.

Let’s first look at some of the commonly misconceived alternatives, like eating some fruit after dinner instead of a decadent dessert.  Consuming something like strawberries or some peaches at the end of the night is not going to be as bad as woofing down a bowl of ice cream with chocolate syrup and a brownie.  However, the truth is that you are still going to get a spike in insulin from the fruit and you are going to be consuming excess carbohydrates that are not going to be metabolized as energy.  This insulin will be produced and will now put your body into an absorptive state.  If your body is absorbing sugars during the period at the end of the day after dinner when you do not move much and expend much energy, the fat cells are going to understand this message as a go ahead to absorb the excess sugar in your blood and store it… making the fat cells happier and bigger.  So, the truth is if you eat something that is putting itself in the dessert category, “healthy” or not, your body is still going to treat it like dessert and have the same response you would get from consuming a standard sweet and tantalizing dessert.

Now let’s look at another story we commonly hear that we commonly hear and is massively misunderstood.  This is the story that people will not eat dessert, but will have 2-3 glasses of wine, some beers, or a glass of whiskey.  This scenario is commonly justified because the serving of booze will not have as many calories as one of our favorite sundaes.  Well, that’s wrong too.  Any alcoholic beverage is full of calories and can spike your insulin too, giving the physiological response of telling your fat cells to have a giant party with all of the sugars invited to make them nice and big.  In addition, 2-3 glasses of wine will equate to about 500 extra calories.  What are those calories?  Well those are sugars… and we all know where sugar goes if we do not use it.  Another key component of alcohol consumption and how it hampers our weight loss goals is that the chemical break down of alcohol into sugars we can use for energy takes longer, which means that if we do not use the sugars that are in the booze we drink… you guessed it, they get a one way ticket to the adipose island.  Smack dab in the middle of the places you don’t want your calories to go, which are the midsection, hips and thighs.

Now that we know dessert time and/or drink time is a time that will cause an increase in fat storage no matter what, what can we do rectify this problem?  Here’s a few suggestions:

  1. Have only 3 nights a week of dessert/drink time.
  2. Don’t justify having fruit or “something light” (like one of those “healthy dessert ice cream bars”)
  3. If you like to drink, try having at least one night a week where you don’t drink.

We aren’t saying that you shouldn’t drink and have a treat every now and then.  I mean come on, we live in Napa.  It’s one the best places in the world to indulge in delicious food and wine.  However, let’s take some time to enlighten ourselves on how to make revolutions in our Life Time Fitness Goals and be more aware of what goes in our body and how justifying a treat to not be a treat… is still a treat!