How to kick sugar and run better - Women's Running

How to kick sugar and run better

Author: Chris Macdonald

Read Time:   |  July 16, 2014

How to kick sugar and run better

Laura Thomas is a certified health coach supporting individuals in their journey to break free of sugar, get control and overcome sugar cravings. You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter if you’re looking for low sugar inspiration.

Sugar can really weaken runners’ immune system This can take you out of action in achieving your goals or targets. Additionally (as I found), it can stop you from maximising your full sleep potential that can mean more groggy mornings and a decreased chance of getting out for a run. My alertness, reduced mind fog and ability to jump straight out of bed were my favourite lower sugar lifestyle benefits.

thomas high res408almondsRunners may not as easily see the damage that sugar is doing internally because they can still look and feel quite fit An excess of sugar increases fatty acids in the blood stream, puts stress on the liver, elevates uric acid levels and causes faster ageing. I’ve got a client who’s a superb runner, but had let the sugar get out of control and recognised it wasn’t healthy in the long term.

Exercise can be a coping mechanism for milder forms of sugar addiction I know at times I used exercise and running to cover up the fact I couldn’t control my consumption of sugar and over time that can get worse if not recognised. Obviously it’s vitally important for runners to replenish themselves with the most nourishing foods possible and restore all the vitamins and minerals in their body.

It’s hard to describe a typical day as they can be so very different At the moment it might involve coaching sessions with clients, a talk somewhere, writing articles and creating helpful guides around sugar, emotional eating or coming up with social strategies. It’s quite likely at some point during the day you’ll also find me playing around with low sugar recipes in the kitchen.

Becoming a health coach was a combination of two things Wanting to find fulfilling work and coming to the realisation that sugar is a tricky issue for some people. I’ve always been healthy, eating well and taking note of nutrition, but sugar was always my ’thing’ and I found it a real challenge to change that. Whilst the nutrition part of it was all well and good, I wasn’t fully ready for the social and emotional challenges that came with lower sugar dietary change.

Eating less sugar made me feel healthy and affected me mentally It absolutely made me want to help inspire and support others to get the same control over sweet food. It really was a revelation for me. It just made complete sense to channel my passion and knowledge into helping others with something that I had experienced first hand.

My ambition is to turn Happy Sugar Habits into a wonderful resource of low sugar support And continue to coach inspiring individuals who have committed to taking action and improve their health. I want to create more of a community to bring people together so they can support each other in making real empowered change and feel like they’re fully in control when it comes to sugar. I also love presenting, so I want to run talks and workshops on social strategies, emotional eating and sugar substitutes. With my own health, I want to keep experimenting with healthy, colourful recipes and I would like to run a half marathon later down the line.

thomas high res701avocadoI’ve retrained my taste buds to crave sugar on such a lesser scale I don’t have as much desire to eat unhealthy sugary things like I used to. This makes healthy eating a lot easier.  I’ve always loved exercising first thing in the morning because you can get outside before you’ve really had time to wake up and think about it. I also allow myself to do anything for even the smallest amount of time. I may do a 10K run or I may just do ten minutes of yoga. Every week I mix it up a bit and try new things so that I’m always interested.

Those who want to eat less sugar need to decide first what their ‘ideal’ relationship with sugar is This is always where I start with my clients. How much sugar would you like to be eating and how do you want to feel about it? Then they need to assess the current intensity and control they have over their existing cravings and do some analysis on their own sugar habits. Finally, they can start trying to reduce their consumption with some savoury meal and snack swaps.

I really love to run these days  I started running initially because it was a quick, cheap and accessible way to exercise. I’ve always been sporty and had usually opted for gyms, but then I discovered running through all the different seasons outside to be fun and a great way of connecting with nature. I used to travel with my job too and loved exploring new areas through running in different cities and places. Needless to say I have got lost on a few adventures!

In March I visited New York for three weeks and stayed with my friend in Manhattan I had not exercised for a good few days, so one sunny morning I went out for the most incredible run. I ran along the Highline park three times before running all the way up the West side and back down past incredible views of the Empire State Building. I stopped and took loads of beautiful pictures. I was then was on a crazy runners high for the rest of the day and it was one of the best days of my holiday

My random fitness goal is to practice enough yoga to do a handstand I’m by no means natural at yoga and find it incredibly challenging. I am in awe of handstands, so would love to be able to do one myself one day, ideally on a beach!

I wear my trusted pink Nike sports top and leggings to exercise in I wear Asics trainers and use the Nike running app to track everything. I’ve used it for years now and love the fact it counts my total miles and runs. I may not have run many races, but I’ve run regularly and consistently for a number of years, which feels like a nice achievement.

thomas high res702[1]cupcakeMy best post-exercise treat is scrambled eggs, cherry tomatoes and avocado maybe with a slice of rye bread Eggs serve as a great source of protein to rebuild the muscles and the avocado has that filling fat element. Moving to more savoury egg based breakfasts was one of the bigger shifts in my lower sugar lifestyle, but I’ve come to truly love them. My body just feels completely nourished after this meal.

My sporting heroine or inspiration is Jillian Michaels I quite often do her Yoga Meltdown You Tube workout and I love her motivational chat at the end of it. I’ve done it so many times I know exactly when it’s coming and can recite the words. It never fails to inspire me to get out of my comfort zone, challenge myself with difficult things and accept that when I do this I am growing the most. It applies in so many walks of life. Thank You Jillian!

Sometimes I have some of my best blog article ideas when running I have to get my iPhone’s Siri involved so I don’t forget them. Quite often I go through thinking about all my friends or I mentally plan how I’m going to make the most creative sugar-free use of the leftovers in my fridge!

Empower all of your own decisions to help you move away from guilt and self loathing This is so important when changing your relationship with sugar long term and finding peace with it. You really need to find harmony with yourself and food in general to enable a sustainable lifestyle change. The road to sweet freedom is littered with lapses and slip-ups and the sooner I learnt to deal with these effectively in my own mind, the easier the whole thing got.

You can sign up to Laura’s mailing list to get a free craving control video kickstarter course, a  low sugar snack ebook and her weekly newsletter.

Want to be featured on our Inspiration pages? Email us at [email protected] or talk to us in the comment thread below – we will do our best to get back to you soon. Follow us on twitter via @womensrunningukYou can find some ideas in our animated ‘Workouts’ section here.

Chris Macdonald

Editor-at-Large, Women's Running

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