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Calorie Confusion

End Calorie Confusion

I love it when readers pay attention! In the last post, How to Get Back up After TKO #999, I was queried about the validity of misconception #2: The nutritional value of food is not what will cause you to gain or lose fat. Excess calories in your diet is truly what makes the difference. As usual, there are always caveats to statements like this that are based on generalizations. A great deal of the caveat, in this case, has to do with carbohydrates so I spent 4 hours researching this topic, looking for scientific studies with valid, provable findings, substantiated over time. I found it. I really don't like to write a post that is almost entirely comprised of someone else's work but there are times when this is a necessity and-I don't have to take responsibility for grammar or punctuation errors! There are links to further reading from the authors and believe me, they are worth checking out. It may take time to go through it all but it should also provide you with excellent insight and help you with making better diet choices.

Taken from: Official web site of the Montignac Method

Carbohydrate's nutritional characteristics deserve special attention. There are many different starches depending on a number of factors and, the more knowledgeable we are, the better we fare.

Starches differ due to their original molecular structure (amylose vs. amylopectin) and also because of the nature of the additional nutrients they contain (proteins, fibers). Also, starches’ physical-chemical properties evolve when they come in contact with water, undergo temperature variations, and as time passes. Hydrothermal, industrial or culinary processing transforms our food and changes its properties and digestibility. These processes affect intestinal absorption rates and, as a result, our bodies corresponding glycemic and insulinic responses. A foodstuffs Glycemic Index is then the result of several parameters which we must keep in mind when choosing what we eat.

By disregarding these scientific notions, discovered during the past 20 years, traditional diets have allowed the food industry to develop suspect botanic varieties as well as industrial processing cooking and conservation technologies, which contribute to indirectly hiking postprandial glycemia to alarming levels for consumers of modern foods. Now we know that these perverse metabolic effects have resulted in increased rates of hyperinsulinism which is at the root of obesity, diabetes and many cardiovascular illnesses prevalent in our societies.

We can now see the ignorance behind current official nutritional recommendations which carelessly advise people to consume a daily amount of 50 to 55% carbohydrates in their meals without distinguishing one carb from another. What is even worse is that, when they do make the distinction, they consistently refer to fast and slow absorbed sugars, a totally mistaken classification.

For further information on the erroneous slow and fast sugars concept:

As deplored by Professor Walter Willet from the Harvard Medical School, these recommendations are never complemented with the explanations required by people to choose carbs wisely depending on how they are processed and to adopt the best treatment (cooking, conservation, etc.) in view of the desired Glycemic Indexes. At the most, these official recommendations advise people to prefer complex carbs, a meaningless notion in view of current nutritional knowledge. Researchers F. Bornet and Professor G. Slama, clearly state that "... complex carbs are not interchangeable, contrary to a longstanding belief, and we have to be aware of the fact that certain starches or amylase foods, although complex, evoke even higher blood sugar responses than simple sugars”, as in the case of French fries (GI 95) which raise blood sugar levels even more than sugar (GI 70) does.

Michel Montignac —the first nutritionist in the world to have proposed the Glycemic Index concept for people wanting to lose weight— has clearly shown for the past 15 years through his publications, how the deviation of modern eating habits has led to an unparalleled predominance of obesity worldwide.

By going from diets with low potential to raise blood sugar (made up mainly of carbs with low Glycemic Indexes) like our ancestors, to diets with a high potential to raise blood sugar levels (mainly composed of carbs with high GI's), a growing percentage of people have developed metabolic pathologies, particularly hyperinsulinism, which is the reason behind excess weight and diabetes.

GI's correspond to a carbohydrate’s potential to raise blood sugar levels. In other words, they tell us the degree to which certain carbs make our bodies secrete insulin. The more insulin our bodies secrete, the greater the chances of gaining weight.

Current nutritionists’ most serious misconception

Despite warnings by GI experts such as Professor Gérard Slama, nutritionists continue to think of carbs in terms of their absorption speed. In fact, there a two types of nutritionists:

  • The first type refers to traditionalists who refuse to evolve with recent scientific findings. Traditionalists either ignore or refuse to accept GI's and their significance. They continue to ignorantly speak of carbohydrates in terms of fast and slow sugars. There are many of these out there, particularly dietitians who work with sportsmen or, even worse, those who write press articles on the subject. These traditionalists contribute by means of their ignorance to perpetuating a misguided notion regarding the essentials of nutrition.

  • The second type refers to people who, either out of their incomprehension or sheer ignorance, can be considered hypocrites. They have admitted the more avant-garde classification of carbs by Glycemic Indexes but have not wholly grasped the GI concept and continue to confusedly speak of GI's together with the outdated 'fast and slow sugar' classification.

For them, the GI notion is only relevant in measuring a carb’s absorption speed. From this perspective, the full carb content of food would always be transformed into sugar (glucose). In this respect, the food with a low Glycemic Index would take longer to absorb and that, while the ensuing glycemic value is lower, it would then tend to last longer. Seen from this angle, the sole purpose of Glycemic Indexes would be to measure the time span of the glucose intestinal absorption processes. This approach is totally mistaken since it goes against the facts of how our bodies really work. In effect, the opposite is true. All of the tests carried out on GI's, particularly those done by Jenkins, prove that what low GI's indicate is that less quantities of glucose have been absorbed as opposed to the time span for the absorption of equal quantities of glucose. This misguided notion regarding GI's is, unfortunately, widespread among a scientific community that awkwardly preaches it anyway.

(End of Montignac quote)

I find this all extremely interesting and exciting! Obviously, chemical components of food definitely make a difference in the resultant effect it has on our bodies. While the 'Twinkie Diet' may have helped the professor running that experiment shed some weight short term, if he choose to stay on it long term, the opposite could have begun to happen, as well as inviting a slew of other health issues to arise. Pretty much like we see in a large percentage of the population as this is how most people already eat (including the excess calories-in, however). While I do believe that overall caloric intake vs. energy requirements ultimately affects weight gain vs. weight loss vs. weight management, there are stipulations to the type of calories consumed, especially when considered OVER TIME.

So, thank you for paying attention dear reader! I wondered if anyone would challenge that statement and I'm so glad someone did. This is a huge part of why there is so much confusion when it comes to losing weight as there is a ton of bad information out there. To make matters worse, oftentimes books on the subject are written by so called experts, professionals and even doctors with the claim that they are exposing break-through advances that will provide you with the secret to losing weight, and how to keep it off, once and for all. Research the background of these authors, check for scientific studies, make sure you know who paid for those studies, get as much information as you can before you decide to put faith in their written word. Don't for a moment believe that just because the information is published, that must mean it's 100% factual. If you do and you follow their advice and the diet doesn't work for you, you end up feeling like a failure and it erodes your belief in your ability to accomplish your goals a little bit more.

Nutritional value of calories absolutely makes a difference! The area that can affect you the most is knowing the GI value of carbohydrates and how that value can be affected by many variables such as whether a food is eaten raw or cooked, how it's cooked as well as how long and at what temperature, how ripe it is, etc. Definitely check out the link above for GI values and remember that it's not about how quickly it's absorbed into your bloodstream; it's how much it raises your blood sugar level once it's there!

Understanding the Glycemic Index

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