UFIT Sport Education

Say no to sugar

Sugar is a natural product, found in a variety of natural foods such as fruit, vegetables, grains, legumes and dairy products. It is a nutritional value is that it breaks down quickly and supplies the brain and muscles with instant energy for their function. However, consuming too much sugar will cause us to gain weight. Studies show that the average person consumes around 22 teaspoons of sugar a day from food, snacks and drinks. This is about 3 to 4 times more than the recommended intake advised by the American Dietician Association.

The damage caused by consuming too much sugar overtime is wide and does not stop on the scale. Most of the problem is due to the consumption of white sugar and the corn or fructose syrup added to our processed food and drinks. Even though it has been well known for many years that these products are damaging our health, the consumption of processed food and sweetened drinks keeps increasing.

Why should we limit our sugar consumption?

1. Sugar creates fat around the internal organs

Sugar (sucrose) as well as corn syrup contain fructose. Consuming too much of them will create burden on the liver, that has to convert fructose into glucose, which our cells use for energy. The excess fructose will be stored in the liver and around it as fat cells. Fatty liver is damaging the liver functionality and long term this might cause cirrhosis.

2. Sugar Causes Insulin Resistance

Insulin is a hormone that regulates human metabolism. Insulin is secreted by the pancreas whenever we eat something that contains sugar. The Insulin hormone sends a signal to the cells that they should put transporters for glucose onto their surface, thereby allowing glucose to get into the cells where it can be used to generate energy. When we eat sugar, glucose levels rise and Insulin levels rapidly increase in order to absorb the glucose from the bloodstream and into the cells.

However, when too much fat is accumulated, especially around our internal organs, our cells become resistant to the effects of insulin. In response, the pancreas will secrete even more insulin in order to insert the glucose into the cells. The problem is that insulin has additional functionality. One is to send signals to our fat cells, telling them to pick up fat from the bloodstream, store it and to also signal the fat cells to avoid burning the fat stored in them. Unfortunately, this is a vicious cycle, as it will generate more fatty cells and worsen the cell’s resistance to insulin.

Because of the resistance to insulin, the glucose doesn't enter the cells properly and fat storage doesn't break down into energy as well and we feel lack of energy and hunger. As a result we eat more and gain more fat.

Consistent resistance to Insulin will lead eventually to Type 2 Diabetes.

3. Sugar increases our risk to suffer from Type 2 Diabetes

Diabetes is a lifelong condition that causes a person’s blood sugar to be too high, and in time might damage other vital systems in the body. Type 2 diabetes is caused by combination of genetics and lifestyle factors. Being overweight does increase your risk for developing type 2 diabetes. In addition, a diet high in sugar from any source contributes as well. Research has proven that drinking sugary/sweetened drinks is linked to type 2 diabetes.

4. Sugar causes overeating situations

Studies show that excessive consumption of sugar damages the ability of our body to signal the brain that we are not hungry any more. The reason for that is that high levels of sugar in our bloodstream cause our brain to become intolerant to a hormone called Leptin. In a normal healthy situation, Leptin is secreted by fat cells when they become bigger. When the brain senses the increased Leptin levels, it signals to our body that we are full and we have enough fat stored for rainy days. When the brain develops resistance to Leptin, it doesn't get the message that the fat cells are full of fat. This situation leads to increased food intake and decreased fat burning.

5. Sugar affects the blood lipids

Blood lipids such as LDL and HDL cholesterol are markers of the biological processes that impact cardiovascular disease. When we think about the impact of food on blood lipids, dietary fat typically comes to mind. Yet a new study shows that dietary carbohydrate, specifically high-fructose corn syrup, can have a large impact on blood lipid markers of cardiovascular disease risk. Researchers noticed that "bad" cholesterol and triglyceride levels spiked in those people who consumed more sugar then others. One of the assumptions for this phenomenon is that the sugar damage to the liver, causing the liver to produce more cholesterol than needed.

6. Sugar affects the heart

Excessive consumption of sugar increases the blood lipids in the arteries, which raises blood pressure and increases the chance of having a heart attack or stroke. In fact, 65% of the people suffering from unbalanced type 2 diabetes, die from heart attack or stroke.

7. Sugar affects Alzheimer disease

New study proves that there is strong correlation between high consumption of sugar and the increased risk of Alzheimer’s. The study shows how the decreased ability to produce energy from glucose has negatively affected brain metabolism and created damage to the brain neurons. It has been referred to and named as "brain diabetes".

8. Sugar is addictive

Sugar affects the brain in a similar way to drugs such as opiates, alcohol and other legal and illegal drugs. It affects the pleasure centre of the brain by increasing the serotonin, dopamine and endorphin levels. As a result, the body develops tolerance to glucose in the same way it does for other drugs. In time, in order to feel good, we will need more of the sugar. Studies conducted on rats showed serious withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety and tremor when the rats were banned from sugar. No wonder so many of us find it so hard to reduces the intake of sugar in our daily diet.

9. Sugar make you tired

Sugar makes you more alert and energetic for a short period of time. However, this energy does not last for longer than 30 minutes. Thereafter the energy level drops significantly and you feel exhausted and drained, this is referred as ‘sugar rollercoaster’.

10. Sugar damages the skin

Sugar cause insulin levels to spike, which leads to a burst of inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation produces enzymes that break down collagen and elastin. Digested sugar permanently attaches to the broken collagen through a process known as glycation. The result is sagging skin, wrinkles and higher sensitivity to the sun. Aside from increasing the effects of aging, glycation can also exacerbate skin conditions like acne and rosacea. 

My advice:

  •  Avoid sugary drinks, even fresh juices. Always consume water.
  • Reduce the number of sweets and treats that you are having.
  • Carefully read the food labelling. Sugar is sneaky and has different naming.
  • Remember even processed products such as sauces, dairy items, bread and others might have a high quantity of sugar in them.
  • Avoid the white stuff - white sugar, white flour, white rice etc. These provide you only with pure energy and no other nutrients.
  • No need to avoid sugar completely. However, make sure that the sugar that you are consuming comes from legumes, starchy vegetables and whole grains.

If you feel you need something sweet, go for the healthier option which includes high quality dark chocolate, fresh whole fruits, dried fruits, honey, or coconut sugar. Remember these are still sugars so watch the quantities.


Noa has been practicing as a Clinical Nutritionist for the last ten years. Her specialties include weight loss, Celiac disease, digestive system problems and metabolic diseases.

Noa focuses on providing the right moral support for all her clients, combined with a customised nutritional program. Through this, Noa assists her clients to change their lives for the best – improving their health, energy levels, sleep, and overall wellbeing. 

Read more

For more information for UFITs Nutrition programs get in touch with us here. Join our next Clean & Lean Challenges that we run 5 times a year providing you with the opportunity to change your healthy habits into a lifestyle.

From a circus tool to an advanced fitness phenomenon – the Kettlebell

It's time to bust the myths, uncover the truth and discover the pros and cons of the Kettlebell.

With the up and coming UFIT Education Kettlebell Instructor course this month on July 23rd and 24th in Singapore, Frazer McArdell, head of UFIT Education, interviews Owen Satterly, a professional sports strength and conditioning coach and Anetta Josefowiz, a UFIT client, on the ins and outs of kettlebell training. Read on for some great facts, training advice and opinions on this important piece of equipment!



History of the Kettlebell

Welcome to the world the Kettlebell! Pavel Tsatsouline, the guru of Kettlebell, describes them as ‘the Russian army knife of exercises’. 

Kettlebells have been around for centuries. The word Girya (kettlebell) was first published in the Russian dictionary in 1704. Kettlebells would be used at markets to weigh goods. However, the odd farmer would show off by swinging and pressing the bells to demonstrate their strength. 

Originally featuring in circuses and show acts, the rest is history. The fitness industry adopted the kettlebell and now every gym, sports hub and fitness establishment has one, being swung in a variety of ways, although not always safely or effectively! 

But why use the Kettlebell? Let’s hear from our panel…

Q. In your personal opinion what are the main reasons for Kettlebell training? 

1. Training your posterior chain. A recent study showed that chronic back pain was reduced through strengthening the glutes and spinal erectors.

2. It’s a different implement. The shape of the bell shifts the centre of gravity, making it more unstable. This increases the demand on grip strength and rotator cuff muscles, especially when the bell is ‘bottom up’.

Anetta: Kettlebells build stronger shoulders and the whole back (including lower back that is very weak in my case), better grip (stronger forearm) and overall strength. Plus, much needed coordination and balance. 

Q. How long have you been using a Kettlebell for training and how did you get into Kettlebell training?

Anetta: About 4 years ago I began strength training with a Personal Trainer (to make sure my technique was absolutely correct) using TRX and Kettlebells following the advice of the osteopath to get my muscles stronger without necessarily growing them great deal. It is muscles rather than spine that keep us vertical therefore strong muscles help put less pressure on our spine which is so crucial in our bodies.



What benefits can the Kettlebell bring for us and can it help fulfil all goals in the gym? 

Q. What components of fitness is Kettlebell training most suitable for? 

Owen: Based on the “10 components of fitness,” and in no particular order, the kettlebell can be used to develop:

  • Strength – The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply force.
  • Flexibility – The ability to maximise range of motion at a given joint.
  • Power – The ability of a muscular unit, or combination of muscular units, to apply maximum force in minimum time.
  • Speed – The ability to minimise the time cycle of a repeated movement.
  • Coordination – The ability to combine several distinct movement patterns into a singular distinct movement.
  • Balance – The ability to control the placement of the body’s centre of gravity in relation to its’ support base. 
  • Accuracy – The ability to control movement in a given direction or at a given intensity.

Q. What fitness goals do you work towards using the Kettlebell?

Anetta: Achieving healthy, lean and strong body, slim is just not enough! It gives me a good training regime. I combine this with good diet. It means tighter skin, less cellulite and less visible stretch marks. And last but not the least clear mind and fantastic quality of sleep.

So the Kettlebell is clearly a crowd winner! But are there any downsides to the Kettlebell?

Please list the limitations

1. Developing maximal strength – sorry, but the barbell is king! The load you can lift and, therefore, force production will always be greater under a bar. However, if you are a female or male not lifting to that of maximal strength then Kettlebells could also have the desired effect if the loads you are lifting are near your 100%, this could be 32kg Kettlebell front squats for example, or a 10kg shoulder press. 

2. Developing hypertrophy – yes, you will see gains in muscle mass using Kettlebells but if you are chasing large increases in lean mass you will need to train more like a bodybuilder.

Q. The Kettlebell is used a lot in CrossFit. Owen, as an extremely talented CrossFit athlete yourself, what are your views on using it under high intensity and high fatigue?

Owen: Kettlebell swings in Metcons were always a good movement for me. High intensity and fatigue should only come once the movement pattern is dialled in. The key with the swing, as with most movements, is to stay relaxed, set a good pace and break big sets where you need to… make a plan and stick to it! Swings can seriously rinse your grip and once you’ve smoked your forearms it makes for a long workout!

The age old argument, East Vs West, Russian or American!

Q. Do you favour the Russian or American swing? If you do, any reasons?

Owen: We use both but American swings see the Kettlebell travel through a greater range of motion (ROM). If your athlete has mobility issues when going overhead this can lead to shoulder and lower back problems. Russian swings eliminate the overhead demand and therefore reduce those injury risks. Also, due to a reduced ROM, Russian swings can utilise higher loads, requiring higher force production. For our field and court based athletes we utilise the Russian swing to compliment the hip thrust in speed development.

Can the Kettlebell be used by young athletes or is it just for adults? 

Q.  Owen, as head of Athlete Development at Hartpury College, how would you programme Kettlebell training into your athletes’ sessions?

Owen: As I stated earlier, we use them to load sumo and goblet squats and the hip hinge patterns. We also like to use them for unilateral carries and bottom’s up pressing as part of our injury prevention program. I think my absolute favourite is a double front squat or carry. It needs to be done with a proper front rack, not supported on your shoulder. 

Q. Anetta, would you suggest Kettlebell training to other females with similar goals?

Anetta: Absolutely! But only to those that strive to have that strong lean physique, be fit, healthy and very mobile! 

How do beginners start using Kettlebells? 

Q.  Can you give your top tips for people new to Kettlebell training? 

1. Get a coach – you need someone with a trained eye to teach you how to perform the swing, clean and front rack properly

2. Start small – low load, low volume! The swing has a high eccentric element, going too hard and too heavy too early will give you tasty hamstring, glute and lower back DOMS!

3. Practice, practice, practice – given the nature of the movements and the shape of the Kettlebell, it can take a while to feel ‘at one’ with it. To increase efficiency and therefore increase work output you can the Kettlebell should be one seamless unit. The Kettlebell shouldn’t be dragging you around the gym floor like you’ve got a bullmastiff on a lead!

Anetta: Instead of trying to choose the heaviest Kettlebell possible with no technical background and struggle, start with lower weight and before moving to heavier one. Make sure your technique is correct! Get a personal trainer to instruct you or teach you correctly! Doing the exercise wrong with too much weight will do more harm than good. When it comes to training sometimes less is more and the Kettlebell is a perfect example - we're working with the whole body without sophisticated expensive machines. 


So what is the final word on Kettlebell training?

The Kettlebell is a fantastic fitness tool and one that can really spice up your training and get huge results! Both a professional sports strength and conditioning coach and an advanced client are big advocates of the Kettlebell. They use them for similar goals, muscle groups and training methods.

The Kettlebell is a simple piece of equipment that can work the body in many ways, using various energy systems, hitting all of the “components of fitness.” 

So why are we not all using Kettlebells at every given opportunity? It is very simple; the Kettlebell must be used correctly. It has to be taught from the basics to the advanced by a Personal Trainer qualified to do so. Self teaching can lead to a huge array of fundamental mistakes that can result in injury or a very inefficient swing! 

To learn more about the Kettlebell, why not attend the UFIT Kettlebell Instructor course on July 23rd and 24th. Whatever level of expertise, whether you're a Personal Trainer or fitness enthusiast in Singapore you will leave as an expert in Kettlebell training and be able to use it to improve your training! To sign up or get more information please contact Frazer McArdell, head of UFIT Education, at frazer@ufit.com.sg.

‘Get comfortable being uncomfortable’ U.S Navy Seals 


About the authors

Frazer McArdell - Head of UFIT Education

Head of UFIT Education, Frazer is a qualified teacher, Master of Coaching Science and a BSc of Strength and Conditioning and Coaching. Having developed and run a successful fitness course in the UK's most successful sporting college, Frazer has brought these skills to UFIT as a Personal Trainer and is now delivering and educating fitness professionals, teachers, coaches and fanatics in Singapore & South East Asia.

Owen Satterly - Head of S&C at Hartpury 

Owen is a UKSCA and NSCA accredited S&C coach. In his current role as Head of Strength and Conditioning (S&C) at Hartpury College, he oversees the S&C programs across the various Sports Academies - including Men’s (Senior and U18s) and Women’s rugby (U18s), football (Senior and U18s), golf, netball, modern pentathlon and rowing. He also works within the TASS network delivering S&C to young elite athletes across several sports.

Previously Owen has worked with Gloucester Rugby and prior to that he spent his time working in London, Australia and New Zealand as a S&C/fitness consultant working across various sports; including rugby (union and league), golf, swimming and surfing.

Anetta Jozefowicz - UFIT Client and Business Owner

Anetta aka Polish Power as she is known in UFIT is one of the finest athletes we have training! Ask Anetta what she trains for and she will be very straight and honest, ‘to look good and feel good!’ Something that many of us can relate to!

Anetta has the added bonus that she is a talented athlete with a good genetic pool making her one of our strongest female clients. She is featuring in this article because she can swing a 40kg KB like a beast! With perfect form, we asked her to give a lay person’s opinion and advice on kettlebell training.