Burn Baby, Burn: Eating Low Glycemic Breakfast Helps you BURN FAT OFF!

October 02, 2006

Burn Baby, Burn:  Eating Low Glycemic Breakfast Helps you BURN FAT OFF!

Competency # 10 Understanding the Glycemic Index   Number 150      Reference: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, August 2006 Stevenson et al, pp 354 

 The breakfast you eat can set the tone for how well your body burns fat when you exercise later.  Plain and simple.  This has never been studied in women before.  A low glycemic index meal is different from a high glycemic meal by the speed in which the glucose present in the meal gets into your system.  As we all know, glucose is the gasoline your body runs on.  Carbohydrates are simply very long chains of glucose all strung together.  Your saliva and stomach have enzymes that unzip those long chains very rapidly and allow the glucose released to get into your blood. 

 If you would eat 100 grams of pure glucose and measure how fast it got into your blood, you would call that 100%.  All foods can be compared to that benchmark.  So, white bread has a glycemic index of about 72, which means the glucose contained in the flour turns into sugar in your blood at 72% the rate at which pure glucose does.  A potato has a glycemic index of about 95.  Rice and pasta are also carbohydrates with relatively high glycemic indexes (85-95). 

 In this study, the subjects were given a low glycemic index breakfast (GI of 44) or a high glycemic breakfast (GI of 78).  Then they were exercised 3 hours later.  The amount of insulin their bodies released, the amount of glycogen in their muscle, the amount of fat from their fat stores they burned were all measured.  What the researchers found was amazing.  The low glycemic index breakfast eaters had lower spikes in their serum glucose after breakfast, lower insulin spikes, and less glycogen stored in their muscles.  And the low GI subjects burned more fat from fat stores.  Significantly more. 

 This makes perfect sense.  The best explanation is to consider a threshold of glycemic index around 55.    Meals with foods below that don’t release insulin as much as meals above that.  Insulin drives glucose into storage in your fat cells.  Unfortunately, that storage effect lasts for 6-8 hours.  When you eat a high glycemic meal, you force your fat cells to go into storage mode and they grudgingly refuse to release fat for your to burn when you exercise.  They can’t, they have been “told” to take up fuel in storage, not release it for use.  This study is the first to clearly show that effect.  I suspect it’s not just with exercise that this effect is important: it’s every morning at 10 am when you are starving hungry and need energy: you go for a donut.  If you had a low glycemic breakfast, your body might just have had the energy reserves it needs because your fat cells could and would be releasing fat stores for you to metabolize.  (This is the secret of the Atkins Diet: low glycemic meat and fat never make you release insulin.)  

The relevance of the glycemic index has been questioned because no one eats pure foods.  We eat a variety.  This study proves it’s relevance.  I suspect more will follow.  This is what they used. High glycemic breakfast:  cornflakes, white bread, jam, 8 oz sugared soda       Low glycemic breakfast:  Muesli cereal, apple, canned peach, yogurt 

WWW: What Will Work for Me.  I switched from boxed flake cereal to whole-grain cereal about 5 years ago and have lost 40 pounds since.  I don’t get as starving as I used to get. My homegrown cereal recipe below has a GI of about 40.  Try it.  This study proves its worth.  If each of us is to maintain our weight at health levels and have “energy” during the day, we need to understand how our bodies manage the food we eat.  It gets you to “optimal performance”.  And that’s important.   

 Dr. W’s “Llama Chow” or Beneficial Motivator Cereal Purchase and keep in dry storage a 50:50 mix of cracked wheat and steel-cut oats.  You can use a pure cracked wheat, a pure steel-cut oats, quinoa, or any other WHOLE grain. To Cook: 1 cup of the above mix of whole grain oats and wheat 3 cups of water  (2 cups of water with a cup of quinoa) 1/2 tsp salt Simmer for 20 minutes with frequent stirring to prevent boiling over Set aside: let cool.  Place in a glass storage container in the fridge.  Lasts 10 days   To Prepare Breakfast About  ½ - ¾   cup of the above mix Add ~ 1 cup skim milk, almond or coconut milk (I add ½ cup frozen blueberries) Place in microwave and heat about 3 minutes Add 1 package of Stevia if you must - but try it without Add ¼ cup ground flaxseed (15 grams extra fiber and tons of omega 3s) 

This column is written by Dr. John E. Whitcomb, MD, Brookfield Longevity, Brookfield, WI.  (262-784-5300)