I remember growing up and my parents were following one of the low fat diets of the day. One of the ones that comes to mind was the Scarsdale Diet.
Anyways this diet, and a number of others, recommended that for the best health we needed to reduce our intake of fat. Particularly saturated fat.
And so we stopped eating egg yolks. And we cut back on our consumption of animal fat. Or we eliminated animal products altogether and became vegan or vegetarian. By we I mean society in general and not me personally.
What have the results been?
Obesity has more than doubled in the USA over the last 20 yers.
But about our internal health? Have we become sicker as well? Take a look at the graph below which shows the changes in diabetes over the years.
And below we can see the increase in sugar consumption over the past 80 plus years.
So fat may not be the culprit we thought it was. Sure it has more than double the energy of carbohydrates and protein. But I’ve tried to drive home the point that a calorie is not a calorie many times before. Any five year will tell you eating 1 lbs of broccoli is not the same as eating 1 lbs of cotton candy. However many still cling to the belief that a caloric deficit is all that is needed to drop unwanted bodyfat fat.
But is sugar really that bad?
Consider the following research just coming out.
Dr. Cantley, a cell biologist and biochemist, has recently shown that cancer cells have insulin receptors just as muscle, fat and liver cells do. So when we eat sugar these receptors are able to receive the sugar flowing through our blood and supply the energy to grow the tumour.
And it appears the affinity of these insulin receptors on tumours may be greater than those on other types of cells. In other words the sugar we eat is preferentially drawn to tumour cells, causing them to grow, instead of say going to a muscle cell.
But let’s look back at our fat consumption again for a second.
One of the main reasons to reduce our intake of fat, particularly saturated fat, was to lower our cholesterol.
However, when we take the fat out of a product it is usually replaced with sugar. Take a look the next time you’re grocery shopping. The foods that have zero to no fat typically have higher levels of sugar.
Nutritional biochemist Kimber Stanhope at the University of California, Davis, has shown alterations in the diet that lead to increases in LDL (low density lipoprotein). However unlike previous warnings related to fat consumption, Dr. Stanhope has observed higher levels of cholesterol within 2 weeks of increased sugar consumption.
So even if you’ve reduced your level of dietary fat you may still be at increased risk of higher levels of HDL if your sugar intake is too high.
What is too high?
Well, the less the better. And depending on a number of factors such as age, sex, activity level and genetics it may be as little as 25 grams of sugar per day.
The small can has 39 grams of sugar and while I know none of you would drink a can of soda it gives you some idea of how much sugar is packed in one drink. And this is 60% more than some people should eat in an entire day!
So what can you do about this?
Know how much much sugar every packaged product you eat has in it. Sure you can do this with fresh foods as well but this exercise still works well for packaged foods.
For example on my desk where I’m writing you this I have the following:
mixed nuts – 2 grams of sugar per 1/4 cup
Prograde energy bar – 12 grams
Muscle Milk chocolate shake – 3 grams
Just with these few snacks, which are primarily protein and fat, I’m at 17 grams of sugar.
What I want you to do is write down the amount of sugar in everything you eat. Become aware of where sugar is getting into your body. And then look to eliminate the worst culprits.
A client used this very tactic recently and dropped 22 lbs in less than 3 weeks! This is with no increase in exercise intensity or frequency. What can it do for you?