Let’s face it. When it comes to losing weight and which diet will help you successfully achieve that, there’s some pretty confusing information out there. You may have heard, or read somewhere, that “a calorie is a calorie”. That’s just not true. I’ve been telling my overweight patients for years that all calories are not equal. If that were true, you wouldn’t have to worry about eating a varied diet. You could just eat one food, say ice cream or pizza all day, and as long as it equaled the amount of calories you needed to either lose or maintain your weight, you’d succeed and would stay healthy. No such luck. Here’s why.
Research Proves It – All Calories Not Equal
Food, and its chemical properties, have a metabolic effect on your body and determine whether you store fat or burn fat for energy. Your brain and your body’s primary source of fuel is glucose. Whether you eat a steak or a candy bar, your body breaks down the food you eat into usable glucose. The difference between eating the steak and the candy bar is that it will take much longer for your body to break down the steak – a protein – into usable glucose than it does the candy bar – a refined sugar. The metabolic effect on your body, though, can make you feel great with lots of energy or make you feel tired and sluggish. This is the glycemic effect of food.
Here’s what happens when you eat a high sugar, high glycemic index food like a candy bar:
- An immediate load of sugar is released into your blood.
- Insulin levels skyrocket to process that surge of sugar, sometimes more than is necessary. A few hours later, you can experience a blood sugar crash. You get hungry, crave sugar, and go for another candy bar.
- While your blood is filled with sugar, you’ll feel a sudden burst of energy. If you don’t engage in strenuous physical exercise and burn that sugar off, what you don’t use for energy will get immediately stored as fat.
Here’s what happens when you eat the low glycemic index food like steak.
- There is no ready-to-use sugar in steak – or other animal proteins – as it is a very low glycemic index food. Instead, your body has to convert the protein of the steak into glucose through a complex process. This may take hours to do.
- During that conversion process, insulin is released into your blood very slowly, in small increments. As a result, your blood sugar remains very stable.
- If you do moderate physical exercise after eating your steak, or other low glycemic food, your body will require extra fuel. Your body then turns to its already stored to use for energy. This is the beauty of a low glycemic method. It not only helps you lose weight but it also helps you keep the weight loss off by always drawing on your fat reserves for extra energy. Now, research has just proven it.
Reduce Blood Sugar Surge For Dieting Success
Recent research published in the Journal of The American Medical Association has shown that a low glycemic index method approach to weight loss seems to be the best way to lose weight and keep it off. The study involved testing a group of young adults using the 3 most common methods of weight loss out there today – low fat, low carb, and low glycemic index.
The results showed that the people on the low fat diet burned less calories, i.e. it actually slowed down their overall metabolism. The people on the low carb diet burned the most calories but had increased risk of heart disease – likely from the high animal fat that most low carb diets have.
The people who ate the low glycemic index diet, however, achieved a steady, moderate calorie burning effect with little to no associated health risks. The researchers concluded that diets that reduce blood sugar surge after a meal – with either a low carb or low glycemic idex method – are preferable to low fat diets in both losing weight and keeping it off.
The Best Way To Do Low Glycemic Index Dieting
I always advise my patients, eating low glycemic foods doesn’t mean that you can eat a ton of them and still lose weight. Even too much low glycemic food at one time will spike blood sugar and insulin levels. Your objective is to reduce blood sugar surges. Here’s how:
- Get a good low GI index food book. These are available in the food and diet sections of most book stores. Avoid all refined sugar, or high natural sugar foods (see labels).
- Watch serving sizes. Don’t eat more than 1/2 to 2/3 cup of low glycemic index foods at one time. (See your low glycemic index foods book and the sample menus here).
- Combine with protein. Eat low glycemic foods with 4-6 ounces of pure protein (chicken, fish, beef) as protein keeps blood sugar levels stable and maintains muscle.
- Use A Cheat Cycle Day. Eat your regular low GI choices Sun-Friday. On Saturday, increase the amount of low glycemic snacks you eat, not at one time, but still spaced out through the day. This signals your body to release more leptin – a fat burning hormone – and tells your body you’re not in starvation, fat storing mode.
Low glycemic eating is not just a diet. It’s a retraining of your eating habits to ensure that you keep burning fat for energy instead of storing it. It does this by keeping insulin levels and blood sugar levels stable. You simply increase your calorie levels when you’ve reached your ideal weight to maintain your weight loss. See the sample menu plan as well.
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.
Natural Health News
Study: Not All Calories Created Equal, http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505269_162-57461579/study-not-all-calories-are-created-equal/
Food Pyramid, http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0931190.html
photo credit: bodyandsoul.com.au