It is commonly understood that weight gain and obesity is caused by a surplus of calories in the diet. Yes, it is true that overeating over a period of time will result in weight gain. However, what if this was not the only factor to consider?
Many experts have discussed in the past that a “calorie is a calorie”. This suggests that it does not matter what type of food you eat, if you are eating too much it will cause fat gain. While this fact is correct, it is merely answering the how and not the why.
Why are some people obese, why are some people slim? Researchers would suggest that people overeat simply because of a “perverted appetite”. This simply is not the whole story.
Different types of foods have different effects on the body. A calorie from fat has a different effect than a calorie from protein. So, what does this mean?
There are many hormones in our bodies working together to omit control and regulation. The hormone I am interested in today is insulin. Insulin, an essential hormone in our bodies that has many functions.
Insulin is released in your body in response to rising levels of blood sugar. Insulin is the hormone tasked with bringing these blood glucose levels back down. Insulin also plays a role in inhibiting fat breakdown in adipose (fat) tissue. This means that insulin prevents the breakdown of fat for fuel within the muscle and instead promotes the storage of such fat in the body.
So, put simply. High levels of blood sugar = high levels of insulin = inhibition of fat breakdown = fat storage INSTEAD of fat utilisation. This storage of fat inevitably leads to weight gain.
So, a calorie isn’t just a calorie.
Glycemic index = the ranking of foods according to how they affect blood glucose levels.
So, foods with a high glycemic index = foods that raise your blood glucose levels and therefore stimulate insulin release.
Foods with a High Glycemic Index
- Sugary foods
- Sugary drinks
- White flour
- White pasta
- White rice
Any type of refined carbohydrate has a HIGH GLYCEMIC INDEX. Whereas starchy carbohydrates such as whole wheat pasta, rice, flour, sweet potatoes, fruit and veg all have a low glycemic index.
Research has shown that diets rich in foods with a low glycemic index decreased hunger pangs, increased feelings of satiety (feeling full) and overall decreased food intake.
A diet rich in foods with a high glycemic index found that the individuals were hungry more often and consumed significantly more food than the low glycemic index group.
A diet rich in foods with a high glycemic index may promote weight gain by moving nutrients away from oxidation in the muscle (where it is burned as fuel) and towards the storage of fat in the tissues.
Type 2 diabetics have a resistance to insulin in their bodies, treatment for this chronic disease is linked to excessive weight gain due to high levels of insulin in the blood.
This research suggests that a leading cause in such high rates of obesity may be down to the excessive consumption of refined sugar and refined carbohydrates in the western world. These types of foods bring about a response in the body that works against “food for fuel” and promotes weight gain.
The optimal diet to prevent weight gain and obesity is yet to be confirmed. However, an optimal diet if there is one, is a diet very low or absent of refined sugars and carbohydrates and rich in starchy carbohydrates, fruit, veg, legumes, moderate protein, and healthy fats. This diet is designed to promote low levels of insulin in the body, decrease hunger and promote weight loss.
This is a low glycemic index pyramid. With lowest glyemic index at the bottom.
After all, this type of diet is comparable to one in which our human ancestors consumed over the last several hundred thousand years. A time where there was no such thing as obesity, cancer or diabetes.
Remember, changes made to your diet should be small and sustainable. Make small changes that are easy to stick to and build this up. Large changes to your lifestyle can be dangerous and problematic for your health.
P.S YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL
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- The Case Against Sugar, Gary Taubes